Sunday 30 August 2020


It’s a productive phase here for me as I edit, proof read and write. My short stories about my late Mum prove her worth and my love for her still, over and over. Making me think and remember her special, intellectual care, it is a great way to collect all of my memories and hers. Gill is publishing these on CafeLit.

I’m also making progress on my novel I’m editing and reading through. Then there’s a historical article to write for the future issue of Reverberations, having sent this latest one to print. On a handbell theme I’m multitasking by transferring the old video to DVD then to MP4 from the archives. And next there is cataloguing of audio and video to document their contents.

Now though, I’m going to finish the blue area on my shed which I’m painting.

Friday 21 August 2020

Proof Reading

It’s great to be proof reading. This needs another hat as editing doesn’t compare. An almost artistic approach and thorough, overall examination is essential.

From my beginnings in graphic design I studied printing and proof reading was part of this. I attended the London College of Print on day release and eventually left as the only girl on the course and achieved distinction. It must be in my blood as through different careers, my design, writing and reading has never left me and always snuck it’s way into my jobs.

Onwards, into the print I go...

Sunday 9 August 2020

Putting you head above the parapet


Submitting work

Yes, if course, if you submit work you are putting your head above the parapet. You may have a rejection hurled at you. It’s a risk you take. But canny writers just get back up there and wait for the next shot. Eventually they get an acceptance. I can quote a story of mine that was accepted after it had been sent elsewhere four times. And that publisher went on to accept several more. A writer we’ve published tells of one story that was entered for several competitions, not even making the long-list, but then went on to win the Costa short story award.

Publication isn’t the end of it

Once your book is out there, it’s open to reviews. It’s odd, isn’t it, that we agonise over that single one star review and forget to enjoy the numerous four and five star ones? We rage if the reviewer complains that the pages were falling out of the book or the cover was torn. “What has that got to do with me?” we cry. I’d say that rather than ranting at the reviewer you should join in at ranting at book seller or publisher. The buyer has lost more; you’ll still get the royalty but they’ve paid good money for shoddy goods.

And sometimes one star reviews are stupid. I saw one about a book I’d enjoyed where the reader complained they hadn’t been told it would be in French. I think she had.  actually.

Common sense will help you deal with these. Perhaps harder are the three and four star reviews that are mainly positive but involve some criticisms. No matter how much we tell ourselves that we can’t please everyone and that we might learn form these, they still nag at us. However, we must get over this. It goes with the territory of being published.

Publishers, too, put their heads above the parapet

And get spat at.

I read an interesting post on Facebook form a writing friend who had been made even more miserable by a rejection because the publisher had explained what was wrong with the text. “Why couldn’t they just reject it and be done?” I know that we publishers give that extra bit of feedback when we have faith in the writer but that what they’ve sent doesn’t quite fit the present list.

It’s rare for us to reject outright anything for CaféLit. However, we only publish about 10% of what is sent to us and we keep all other publishable material in an archive, just asking writers to let us know if they have luck elsewhere.

I rejected one piece because it was too similar to what happened at the Manchester Arena 22 May 2017. That author was perfectly understanding. 

But not so the one whose work was beautifully written but may have been a little offensive to our female readers. I gently pointed this out. And got spat at. Why wouldn’t I let my readers be the censor? Hang on a minute. Isn’t a commissioning editor a censor in a way. Or do we prefer the word gatekeeper? Either way we have to think of our readers.

Then there was the writer who kept sending us exquisite poetry. We only publish a little poetry and I would always favour a short story over a poem. But I wanted this guy to have a chance. I know quite a few poets and I also know that they make most of their money from gigs, selling books at those gigs and by teaching others. I made this point to him. Should he send some of his best work to me? Yes, he should always make sure that any work he sent to a publisher was right at the top of his game. The response? Angry emails. Please remove all of his work from our files. He would never submit to us again. Ouch! And ouch every time I come across this person in a Facebook group to which we both belong.

But don’t sit there like a target

And sometimes you deserve to be shot at. I fired a shot myself at somebody yesterday who tried to give me unsolicited advice about something. In fact he told me to do the very thing that I do, in another context. He’d not done his homework.

You will get mud in your eye and you’ll deserve it if you haven’t read the rules or studied the publisher properly. You should never send a bit of quirky comedy writing to a high-brow literary magazine.       

Monday 3 August 2020

News 3 August 2020

I hope you’re all keeping well and raring to go.  I hope some of the news we offer here will inspire you. 

Coming soon

More editors and readers 

Later this week the editorial team is meeting and we’ll be looking at slightly different way of working which may lead to a faster turnaround on submissions.  We could do with more editors and readers and if anyone is interested, do contact me but leave it until Thursday or later since we’ll have then had our meeting.
Of course, books must clear financially before we can offer a new contract. As soon as one book clears its set up costs we offer a new contract.  This is where marketing comes in.  See below.   

Social media course

As an extension to the marketing course we delivered recently I’m offering in September a course on using social media. It will be limited to twenty-five people but will be recorded so can be made available for those who can’t attend.  I’ll be calling on certain “experts” to present about Facebook  groups, Facebook pages, Twitter, blogs, Instagram  and slightly off topic, reader  magnets .

31-day plan of marketing tweaks

I was recently in correspondence with a newly published writer who was anxious to complete some marketing activities. Many of us dread having to do these. I advocate anyway only doing what you feel comfortable with though you should stretch yourself a little.  Then I read a book that proposed telling you how to market in just seven minutes a day. It’s was slightly deceptive as many of the activities would take much longer than seven minutes and they were all pretty much what we do anyway.  But it set me thinking.  Perhaps I could make a list of actions that you take, one a day.
In fact I created a list that I worked with myself, partly based on the advice in this book and partly from my own ideas. I used it for the “Red not Black list and for one of my own books and I’ve monitored which were the most effective actions and relisted them.  I intend to provide an amended list for you to work with each month.
Don’t feel you have to and it’s also perfectly fine to use this list for one of your other books instead. Up to you. But it might be useful if you look at the Red not Black list and target the book that’s most in the red form the ones you’re involved  with . Work through the list on that one.  If you can be bothered you could also let me know which actions you’ve used on which book so I can further fine-tune the list for next time.  
The beauty of it is you just take one action a day and know that you are doing something.
Most of the activities I’m suggesting will only take a few minutes and even if you go to town on them they won’t take more than an hour.
As one writer once said to me “If something doesn’t work, you just need to try something else.” She had a point, don’t you think?

A new way of working

I’ve been most impressed with some of the on-line activities on offer. This one is particularly interesting:  Here attendees are not charged but they do pay the writers.  Attendees may donate. 
Maybe this is a good way forward for us all?  

Writers’ news

Madeleine McDonald

Madeleine McDonald's story Tickety Boo, recently broadcast on BBC Radio Leeds, is now available on BBC Sounds:
Well worth a listen!

News from Bridge House 

Mulling It Over

We’re pleased to announce that the full list that will be included in the Bridge House anthology, Mulling It Over, due out on 15 November 2020:
1.       According to Apes Dianne Stadhams
2.       An Angel at Our Table S. Nadja Zajdman
3.       Double Dilemma Linda Payne
4.       Family History Jim  Bates
5.       Her Time Sally Angell
6.       Into the Shade L F Roth  
7.       It is Time Allison Symes
8.       Lines of Gold Margaret Bulleyment
9.       Making a Decision Dawn De Braal
10.   Malak al Mawt Steve Wade
11.   Marry in Blue Candida Spillard
12.   Me and the Bird Penny Rogers
13.   Perfect Justice Paula R C Readman
14.   Shadow Dancers Cathy Leonard  
15.   Taming Fate Dawn Knox
16.   The Holiday Jeanne Davies
17.   The Little Statue Maeve Murphy
18.   The Perfect Haven Janet Howson
19.   The Sound of Love Stuart Larner
20.   The Tangle of Isles Elizabeth Cox
21.   There’s Rosemary, That’s for Remembrance Linda Flynn
22.   Those Nice Suits Hannah Retallick
23.   Twelve Christopher Bowles 
24.  Waiting for the pigeons Tony Oswick

New publications

We’re pleased to have releases this month Jeanne Davies’ Drawn by the Sea. 
You will find in this collection a mixture of themes and genres. There are brushes with the supernatural, an exploration of human emotions, history, love and loss, and also a firm sense of time and place.

Jeanne Davies thinks up her stories writes whilst walking for miles in the countryside with her Labrador companion at her side. Wandering along the seashore with the serenity and chaos of the ocean inspires and gives her peace.
As ever, reviews are most welcome. 

Email catalogue of our books

I continue to post every week: .  I’ve reinstated the   the pot-luck physical books.
I’m simplifying how this works. Every week now there will be the option of buying three of the books listed in hard copy for either £15.00 or £20.00 depending the size of the books and there will be a link to the books on Amazon.  Where possible an Amazon count down deal will be included.      
You can still, of course, order physical copies of any of our books at author discount price and we’re still offering physical bundles of books via the Friday email. These are all dispatched directly from our printer. 
I advertise via Twitter and Facebook and have started to build up an email list.
I’m keen as well to do a few more featured authors. Here we offer deals on all of the books you’re in and also advertise books you have with other publishers. You may offer a giveaway as well. Contact me if you’re interested.   
The impact on sales is tiny at the moment but certainly the featured books are getting more hits.  
Take a look every Friday to see what’s on offer. You can either join the mailing list at
or just go to the web site:
I’m circling through: red hot offers ( the books whose monthly sales figures suggest they need a bit of a boost), little square flash fiction collections,  single author collections, charity special books, illustrated books, YA books, books for young people, charity books, The Bets of CafeLit collections,  annual anthologies and then circling through offers on these of e-book bundles , physical book bundles, and Amazon countdown deals.           

New author discount scheme

We’ve simplified things. You get 25% author discount on all books.  If you order five or more we do not charge shipping costs. On your first order for five or more of a title you’ve contributed to you get one free book.  If you order 51 or more books you get a 35% discount.  You still get royalties on these books.   

The Magnet Book

This is now up and running and the number of subscribers to the email catalogue list, Books, Books, Books has more than doubled.  It is a fine book and really shows what a great bunch of writers we have.  As I gave it its final proof I really appreciated it. Hopefully it is also pointing readers to more of our works.
We could still do with more readers on our mailing list. Invite all of your friends and family to download the book. See what we’ve done here: (See top right-hand corner)
Please feel free to create your own call to action from this. The link for the letter sign-up and which then takes your contacts to the download is:          

Save the date

It seems more and more unlikely that we’ll be able to hold a physical event for our annual celebrations and the launch of the Waterloo Competition’s paperback – 5 December 2020.  In any case, we won’t be able to use St Johns or St Andrews this year as massive renovations are going on. . Two things are certain, however: an event will happen on 5 December and there will be a physical event sometime somewhere.  So still, save the date.   

Useful links

This month I’ve added another useful one about online launches:  There are some great ideas here.
Then there is this one: which describes a little the sort of things we are trying to do with the magnets book.
Both worth a look at.

Book Performance

You can now pick up book performance at:  
Those books that are more in the “red” are on the whole the ones where we’ve bought in services.    It makes no difference to royalties. But remember: when a book gets out of the red we can afford to start work on a new one.   
We’ll be able to offer one more contract this month.

Open calls

Prompts 2021

Do send prompts in for the 2021 book. It will be a gift to you again at the end of the year.  


I still need a few more items for Aftermath. What happens after Covid19.  This offers the chance for speculative fiction but other sorts of writing are also welcome and in any genre.  I don’t want to be too specific about word count; some people may wish to submit a piece of flash fiction. Others may offer a 5,000 word story.   This is a semi-private call – open to those who read this newsletter and their trusted friends. I’ll close the call once we have 50 submissions and I’m aiming at a book of about 50,000 words but I’ll make two or more volumes if necessary.  Send submissions to me as Word attachments and Aftermath in the subject line.  Reprints are welcome if you have cleared this with the original publisher.   
And a reminder of our other open calls:

The Opportunities List

Please remember our waiting list is long. Even with six editors it takes a while for your work to get to the top of the list and one book has to recover financially before we can go on to the next. So, it may be worth looking at this list in detail whilst you’re waiting.      
I often add several items a day. I look for fairness. Competitions must not be too expensive to enter.  Everything must lead to fair payment, decent publication, fantastic exposure or just be good fun.  
Note, I am gradually moving this over to Fair Submissions . It’s wise to check both sites at the moment. There are reminders on both.  On Fair Submissions to find what you’re looking for, click on Labels on the left hand side.  You’ll see a lot of dates to start with.  Then click Show More and you’ll see a list of genres and categories.   Or simply type your search term into search filed. When I send out the list to those of you who have opted to receive it I’ll feature the latest three posts. 
I’ve had to give in and include some who charge submission fees but I’m still only including those who charge a reasonable fee – no more than £3.00 which is perhaps the equivalent of old-fashioned postage, return postage, paper and ink. We currently have no intention to charge. I understand totally that those who charge are doing it mainly because that’s what Submittable software costs.   
Note, though, we expect and approve of a reasonable charge for competitions which may be slightly higher than this – they have to pay the judges at least expenses and create a prize fund. 
You always have to remember however that only a handful of people will be named in a competition or win.  But if you do get shortlisted or even longlisted it’s a great line on your CV.      
You can sign up to have the list drop in your in-box every time it is tidied up i.e. every three to four weeks.  Sign up here: . “Tidied up “means removing the out of date entries i.e. when it is past the call for submission date. I don’t have the time to actually monitor whether the web sites mentioned are active or whether a publisher has gone out of business.  So, if you come across anything like that, do let me know.   


CaféLit site

Published in July were:  Elaine Barnard, Jim Bates, Mason Bushell, Maxine Chruchman, Alexina Dalgetty, Clive Aaron Gill, David Gower,  Jerry Guarino,  Janet Howson,  Gill James , Sheila Kinsella,  Dawn Knox, John Lane, Henry Lewi,  Rosie McGarth,  Roger Noons, Jenny Palmer, Randall Van Nostrand, Penny Rogers, Allison Symes, Robin Wrigley, Sally Zigmond,

Top performing posts in the last thirty days:

·  The Gods Do Tesco  by Henry Lewi  188
·  Blackbird by Sheila Kinsella 160
·  Why I Like Pencils by Randall Van Nostrand  146
·  North, South, East and Best by Dawn Knox  143
·  Mom's Bills by Clive Aaron Gill  79

The Best of CafeLit 10

Yes, I’m starting votes for this and also doing this retrospectively. If you are published in a particular month, I’m asking you to vote for one story that you think is the best that month. You mustn’t vote for your own. However, if you have two stories published in a particular month, you may vote for two stories, three votes for three stories etc. Just email me your choices and say which month(s) they’re for.
Final votes for December 2020 should come in by January 2021.
I think this makes it a little more manageable.    

Creative cafés

Added this month are:
·          The Bad Moon Café   - its main Creative Café activity is board games.  It is situated in London, SE1.
·         The Jazz Café – as the name suggests it is into live music.  This one is found in Camden, north London. 

Keep sending suggestions and review cafés if you can. 
Cafés might further support the project in the following ways. 
Do you have any further suggestions?
Remember you can now buy merchandise for the Creative Café project. The profit on anything you buy here goes to the Creative Café Project. Check this out here.   
We’re always looking for new cafés.  If you visit one of the cafés in the project and would like to write a review of between 250 and 350 words – nice, too, to have a couple of pictures – send it to me here. Do the same if you find a new café.


Find out more about all of our members here.   
This is a personal recommendation. I use my Dream Team a lot myself but gradually I’m adding in people that friends and friends of friends have recommended.

What happens?

You sign up to a mailing list and every time a request comes in we mail it out to you or the enquirer contacts you directly via my web site. The conversation then carries on between you and the person making the request. You may also have a page set up on my blog and you may update that once a year. 
Interested? You may sign up for more than one category. 
Beta readers sign up here.
Reviewers sign up here.
Editors sign up here.
Illustrators sign up here.
Designers sign up here.
Proof-readers sing up here.   
And of course, you could be using these people yourself.

School Visits:  Free listing for our writers

If you would like to offer school visits, please contact me. I'm offering a free listing on the imprint pages.
State: age groups you are prepared to work with, a definition of your work, distances you are prepared to travel. Appropriate links. Please provide an image.  
School visits are tricky at the moment but you can meet up via Zoom, Google Hangouts or Skype and you might consider offering a few free materials for “home schools” at the moment. Perhaps even a video of you reading out some of your work.        

Calling all writers

If you would like to be on my blog just answer the questions below and send them with appropriate images to gill dot james at btinternet dot com.
Please feel free to pick and choose which of these to answer. 
1.       What do you write? Why this in particular? 
2.       What got you started on writing in the first place?
3.       Do you have a particular routine? 
4.       Do you have a dedicated working space?
5.       When did you decide you could call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact?
6.       How supportive are your friends and family? Do they understand what you're doing?
7.       What are you most proud of in your writing?
8.       How do you get on with editing and research?
9.       Do you have any goals for the future?
10.   Which writers have inspired you?
Please write as much or as little as you like for each section and supply as many pictures as you like. Also let me know your latest publication and supply me with a link if it's not on Amazon. 
I'm also happy to offer you a post whenever you have a new book come out, even if I'm not your publisher. In this case answer the following questions:
  1. Tell me about your book.
  2. Tell us about your research for this book.
  3. What inspired you to write this?
  4. What's next?
  5. How can we get a copy of the book?
  6. Do you have any events planned?
Again write as much or as little as you please. Alter and add to the questions if you wish. Provide as many pictures as you wish.
Send to: gill dot james at btinternet dot com
This month I’ve added interviews about book with Paula Readman and Paul  Williams. I have a more general  writer interview with  Maggie Nerz Irbarne

Work Flow     

Please note the new site for checking work in progress on editing, designing and post-production.  You can click from here to separate pages for all of our editors.  My page includes other processes.
Note also the new Submissions awaiting assessment section and new pages for Allison, Alyson,   Amanda, Linda and Madeleine.    
There is now a separate page for progress on assessing submissions: 

Some notes about my newsletters, blogs and Facebook groups and pages.

They do overlap a little but here is a summary of what they all do.

1940s Group

Just a reminder: this is a Facebook group for all people who write about the 1940s. Fiction and non-fiction, for young and old. Topics might then be: the Holocaust, World War II, Civilian Experience (all sides) and the battle front. We can exchange ideas about research and marketing. We may promote books and stories, as often as you like and especially on launch / release day.
If you feel that is you, do join us:    
Of course, with my Schellberg Cycle I'm constantly in that world.  
Bridge House Authors For all those published by Bridge House, CafeLit, Chapletown or The Red Telephone or interested in being published by us. General news about the imprint. News for writers. Link to book performance. Sign up here.
Chapeltown Books News about our books and our authors. Sign up here.
The Creative Café Project  News about the project and CaféLit – for the consumer rather than for the producer.  Sign up here.   
Fair Submissions Remember I keep a full list of vetted opportunities on this blog.  See them here. New ones are added several times a day. Roughly once a month I go through it and take out all of the out of date ones. At that point I send it out to a list. If you would like to be on that list, sign up here.   
Gill’s News: News about my writing, The Schellberg Project, School Visits and Events. 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.   
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 This is where I review books for children and young adults.  My reviews are factual and neutral, offering information about the books for concerned adults: teachers, librarian, parents, guardians and scholars.  Find it here.  
Scribblers Sans Frontières This is a private group is for writers published by one of our imprints: Bridge House, CafeLit, Chapeltown, The Red Telephone. Here you can:
• Discuss all technical issues re our books
• Exchange marketing ideas
• Advertise and report on your events
• Promote any of your titles or successes
• Share good practice and ideas
• Get help with writing problems
• Anything else appropriate  
I also tend to let you know news that appears here earlier and in a little more detail.  It’s a sort of inner sanctum, if you like. You need an invite to join this: contact me for an invite.
Gill James Writer You will find this page here.   This informs you in brief about what I alter put in my newsletter. It is slightly more immediate.  It also alerts you when I’ve posted on one of my blogs.

Happy reading and writing.