Friday 30 October 2020

Would you like to write a children's picture book for us? Free talk offered.

 Wilma’s efforts often end in disaster. Her spells come out all wrong. The other witches laugh at her.  She has to watch them performing fantastic tricks. However, one spell that goes wrong has surprising consequences and Wilma gains a valuable ally.Philippa Rae's delightful children's story is enriched by a series of colourful illustrations by artist Ashleigh James.This is our latest illustrated book. 

If you and / or your writing group would like to met us via Zoom for a one hour tutorial / seminar on the sort of work we're interested in and how you should submit, please contact us.

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Drawn by the Sea by Jeanne Davies


How we came to publish this one

Jeanne has had several stories published by Bridge House in our annual anthologies and she has also appeared in CafeLit. She has been included in our Waterloo books. Many of the stories in this volume have appeared in our anthologies.  

The title

The title comes partly from Jeanne’s love of the sea. She has recently moved to live near the sea and she enjoys walking with her dog in this environment.         

The cover

We worked with Jeanne on lots of wonderful beach scenes. Some ideas came from her own photographs.     

Some notes about style

Jeanne writes in plain English. Her dialogue is carefully crafted to sound like the people who are talking. She makes good use of the senses to give us a real sense of time and place.      

Who we think the reader is

Many of the stories have a feel-good factor. Yet there is sadness as well in some of them. They also challenge the readers.


The book continues to sell steadily though has not yet covered all of its set-up costs.  We could do with a few more sales, however. If you’d like a copy, click on the image and you’ll be taken straight to Amazon.  

What else

Jeanne is always supportive of what we do. She has attended many of our celebration  events. She is active on social media and often likes or shares our posts.. 


Sunday 25 October 2020

Remembering Spectrum by Christopher Bowles

How we came to publish this one

Christopher has had several stories published by Bridge House in our annual anthologies and he has also appeared in our Waterloo books.

The title

All Christopher’s idea.        

The cover

We worked extensively with Chris to get this right.    

Some notes about style

Chris has his own distinctive style. In fact even now we’ve started accepting work anonymously we usually still recognise Chris’s work. Always though we have to work on getting the layout right. The visual appearance of the text is important here.   

Who we think the reader is

Chris has his own followers. However, other Bridge House authors who have completely different styles have nevertheless read and enjoyed this volume.     


The book continues to sell steadily though has not yet covered all of its set-up costs.  We could do with a few more sales, however. If you’d like a copy, click on the image and you’ll be taken straight to Amazon.  

What else

Chris is a performance artist and runs his own award-winning theatre. Magpie Man Theatre.  


Tuesday 20 October 2020

Allison Symes, recently published by Chapeltown, put us straight about Flash Fiction

I'm pleased to invite on to the blog today Allison Symes whose latest collection of Flash Fiction, Tripping the Flash Fantastic, we have recently published through our Chapeltown imprint.  Allison recently attended one of our authors' afternoons and talked to us about Flash Fiction.  She has kindly reproduced for us much of what she said there.      


What is Flash Fiction?

Flash fiction is any story up to 1000 words. I prefer to write to sub-500 and my natural home is anything between 100 to 350 words. 

Flash fiction is nothing new either. It has been around for centuries. Think about Aesop’s Fables or the parables of Jesus in the Bible. They come in at well under 1000 words!

So, Allison, why do you write Flash Fiction?

The simple answer is I love it! Why? I’ve always found inventing characters to be the most fun when creating a story. Flash fiction has to be character led and so I am getting to invent new people all the time. So win-win for me here.

Why do you say Flash Fiction is character led?

The word count restriction does mean you haven’t got room for lots of lovely description. Every word you use has to “punch its weight” to justify being in your story.

Focusing on the character, their thoughts and actions helps reduce word count and makes the story more immediate. That’s important for the very short form.


How does Flash Fiction help writers?  

It teaches you to edit effectively. You have to make every word count so you write with precision and edit with even more! Whatever you write, that is helpful.

Flash fiction shows up to you as the writer what your wasted words are so those are the first you cut on your initial edit.

It can be a useful warm-up writing exercise.

When you are short on time, you can draft a flash fiction piece quickly. And you will still have written something you can polish later and submit to a market and/or competition.

It is easy to use as “adverts” on your website, Facebook etc. I will every so often share a flash story like this as a kind of marketing exercise.

What about competitions? Do you try them? Are there many for writers of Flash Fiction?

Flash is now a category in many competitions including The Bridport Prize.   

Writing Magazine will often hold competitions asking for 500 word stories, 750 word tales, etc. That’s flash fiction. And there are plenty of competitions online.

Entering competitions regularly is a good writing discipline and will help you hone your skills. So why not give the flash ones a go?

Do you think Flash Fiction has become more popular because of the new technology we have available?   

Yes, I’m certain the rise in technology with I-pads, smart phones etc., has helped boost the popularity of flash. It is easy to read on a screen.  

Flash is easy to share on Facebook and the very short form is ideal for sharing on Twitter. 

And flash is a great counter-argument for those who say they have no time to read! What, really? Given we spend so much time on our phones these days, why not read on them as well?



So, what would you say is vital about Flash Fiction? 

It isn’t the word count!

The most important thing about flash fiction is it must be a proper story. There has to be a beginning, middle and end.

There has to be some sort of conflict which is resolved.  

It is NOT truncated prose! 

And that old word count… there is more flexibility there than you think. I’ve written across the spectrum from one line stories to 1000 words and pretty much everything in between. You can have fun with this – and I do! Hope you can too.

So, tell us about your latest collection of Flash Fiction and where we can buy it. 

My latest collection from Chapeltown Books is called Tripping The Flash Fantastic. The funny thing is I didn't start out writing flash fiction at all. Indeed I'd not even heard of it when I began writing. I discovered flash fiction thanks to a CaféLit challenge and have been hooked on the form ever since. And with my new book, I have had even more fun playing with where and when I set my characters. I think the best thing I can do is share the blurb for TTFF.

In this follow-up to her "From Light to Dark and Back Again", Allison will take you back in time, into some truly criminal minds, into fantasy worlds, and show you how motherhood looks from the viewpoint of a dragon. Enjoy the journey!

Click on the image to view on Amazon. Contact Allison or Chapeltown for a free e-book if you would like to review.


Tuesday 13 October 2020

A Place to Be Revisited

I though I'd give this book another mention.  I asked an academic acquaintance of ours to review  and I was delighted to receive this one: 

Jess Falzoi’s A Place to Be is a collection of stories that burn in you long after you have read them - be prepared to be haunted by a strong voice, a strong sense of place and a strong energy driving each story. Falzoi is a hybrid AS Byatt and Raymond Carver - she combines an urgent, existential stark Minimalism with a complex tapestry of rich inner lives of her characters. Each story is a lattice, a delightful,  delicately woven fabric where relationships are held together by the finest of threads. These stories are sensitively told, emotionally taut, the words  explosive, the form inventive. A Place to Be is Einstein's cottage in candlelight, a chance encounter in the back seat of an ex-pimp's car in a barren nowhere place in Northern California, being barricaded with a mother and her children in an apartment in a post apocalyptic black out: these stories will surprise and dance in you, and burn their way into your heart.

This really is one of our literary gems. Apply here if you would like a review copy.    

Publishing Days Pass Like a Shadow by Paula R. C. Readman


  How we came to publish this one

We’ve known Paula for some time. Her short stories have appeared in many of our annual anthologies, she has been published on CaféLit and in the Best of CaféLit collections and she has also appeared in our Waterloo books.

Paula is always very supportive of any of our efforts so it was a pleasure to publish this collection for her.      

The title

A very fitting title for this collection.       

The cover

The cover image is ethereal. Paula worked with our designer on this. The angel’s face appears on the front of the book and the blurb is spread across it’s wing on the reverse.    

Some notes about style

I didn’t edit this one but several of the stories have already appeared in our anthologies. We’ve started anonymous submissions though I did recognise Paula’s style when one of her stories came in recently.

There is a firm voice here. The author keeps us guessing throughout the stories. I guess we like her style generally.        

Who we think the reader is

These stories are all an easy read but at the same time they promote a few thoughts.  This collection therefore is for the thoughtful reader who also wants to be entertained. For the reader who like to look at the darker side      


The book continues to sell steadily though has not yet covered all of its set-up costs.  We could do with a few more sales, however. If you’d like a copy, click on the image and you’ll be taken straight to Amazon.  

What else

This is one of three books that Paula has had published this year. So, nothing  happens for years and then three come along at once. I can personally recommend all three.   

Saturday 3 October 2020

Dealing with Pirates


It’s sickening, isn’t it, after all of your hard work, and all of ours, that someone is advertising your book on a website and allowing it to be downloaded for free?

This is illegal.

It is also illegal to download such material.

The first time it happened to me I contacted my publisher in a panic. The reply?  Sigh. “We can ask them to take it down but they’ll put probably put it back up again.” Slight pause. “You’ll probably find that your sales go up, actually.” 

Not satisfied I contacted the Society of Authors.  I almost got the same sigh.  “Yes, it probably will go straight back up. Or up on another site.”  But the Society of Authors is fighting hard on this in a more collective way. We need to remember that they’re not there just for what they can do for us individually, though of course their contract-vetting service is excellent. Part of our fee gives them the resources to take on major concerns.

They did suggest sending a standard letter.

“Dear XXX,

I note that you are offering as a free download of XXX from your site. This is illegal as you are not licensed to copy this material. Please remove this immediately. We have informed our solicitors.

Yours faithfully,


I’ve had a 100% success rate with this and usually as well a grovelling reply. But. I don’t actively look for them.  

You can also tackle the illegal reader. At every opportunity, when you have any contact form a reader, ask them how they heard about your book.  This will give you some valuable marketing information anyway. If they happen to mention a free download, politely point out that they’re breaking the law. They’ll probably never do it again and that helps all of us. If they plead poverty can you offer a free book in exchange for a review? You can use the mobi-file we send to you if the book hasn’t yet got 50 reviews.   

Why isn’t this policed properly?  It’s difficult to and perhaps law-enforcers have more pressing problems.  The EU passed a new law recently which dealt nicely with this BUT our government decided not to take it on. They are concerned about free material being available for schools. There is a lot of discussion about this on the Society of Authors web site and ALCS.   Worth a letter to your MP? Mine has had several on this and related matters, as well as other matters. I’m expecting the “You again?” reply soon.

Does it increase sales, and if so, why and how? 

It did in my case and we think it’s because usually you have to read a PDF of a poor scan. If somebody likes what they’re reading they’ll go and buy the book. 

Why do they do this?  Maybe they charge a subscription fee.  But they’re still taking a huge risk.  If they’re prosecuted and lose thy can end up with huge fees and a jail sentence.  So can the reader. And sometimes they’re just trying to get information about people for other reasons.  Most criminals live on adrenalin anyway. A few in this case may have that altruistic idea that content should be free.

This is what I’m doing as a writer: 

Goggling my latest publication once a month – only looking at the first four pages of hits

Sending out custom letter to all abusers

Naming and shaming them on all appropriate social media platforms

As a publisher, I’m Googling the core ISBN numbers once a month       

Image by Prawny from Pixabay