It seems like a lifetime ago now that I had one of my stories published in an anthology published by Bridge House Publishing. The owner, Gill James, still sends newsletters to us, and the other week, I thought, Gill would be the perfect person to interview for TWL as she has so many writing resources and opportunities for writers. So here is my chat with her…
TWL (This Writer’s Life)-Tell us about yourself and your writing background.
Gill James (GJ)-I’ve always loved writing but only gained the discipline to do it regularly when I was in my late thirties. I also then discovered that I wanted to write for children. My eight-year-old and six-year-old had run out of reading material while we were on holiday. I started writing 1000 words a day of a middle grade fantasy story. A few years later I focussed on teen and young adult – after all I taught 11-16 in British High Schools for 23 years. I knew that creature. I write a lot of short stories for all ages as well and I really enjoy writing flash fiction. My longer fiction still often involves young adults but perhaps I’m now concentrating on the feisty female.
I have an MA in Writing for Children and a PHD in Creative and Critical Writing. This has led to a career shift and eleven years’ teaching in higher education. “Research” largely meant writing time and a sabbatical in 2011-12 led to six connected novels, based around a true story and some authentic materials, all set around Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Number three comes out soon. You can find out more about this here: http://www.thehouseonschellbergstreet.com/
TWL-I know This Writer’s Life followers will find your web site a great resource for all things writing, Can you guide us through some of the resources they might like to check out?
GJ-My main site http://www.gilljameswriter.eu/ (oh dear, I may have to get an new domain name soon!) is really a blog in disguise. I blog about all sorts of writerly things here. I’m very careful with key words and so it is very well documented. I also offer a lot of information via my pages:
My Academic Papers http://www.gilljameswriter.eu/p/blog-page_22.html
This lists abstracts and links to some of my academic papers.
My Books Alphabetically and My Books Chronologically http://www.gilljameswriter.eu/p/my-books-alphabetically.html
These two pages really do what you’d expect. I list all of my books both ways to make it easier for people to look them up.
Book Club Questions http://www.gilljameswriter.eu/p/my-books-chronologically.html
These are workshops about my books for adult reading groupsMy Dream Team (Beta Readers, Reviewers, Editors, Designers, Illustrators, Proof-readers) http://www.gilljameswriter.eu/p/my-dream-team.html
Beta readers read whole books once they’re complete and polished but before final edits are done. Reviewers review published books. These two types of people work for free and usually get a free copy of the book.
Editors, illustrators, designers ( the people who put the books together so that they work), proof-readers are paid professionals.
I list on my Dream Team page those people I have used and approve of. I’m gradually adding more and more. This offers a service to visitors to my site but also to the professionals listed here. They can all also offer to have a separate page.
My Flash Fiction http://www.gilljameswriter.eu/p/my-flash-fiction.html
This lists my collections and individual stories placed elsewhere
Opportunities List http://www.gilljameswriter.eu/p/opporutnites-list.html
I list on here only opportunities I deem fair. They must lead to publication, payment, excellent exposure or be great fun. I don’t include ones that charge for normal submission and I make sure any competitions are a fair price. I add to this several times a day and every two or three weeks I take out all the out of date ones. You can opt to have this emailed to you after each “tidy up” . This started when I did this for the students I taught at the University of Salford.
Questions for Schools http://www.gilljameswriter.eu/p/questions-for-schools.html
Here I’m starting to list worksheets for schools based on some of my young adult fiction.
My Short Stories http://www.gilljameswriter.eu/p/my-short-stories.html
This lists both my collections and ones that appear in anthologies.
My Stories for Children http://www.gilljameswriter.eu/p/my-stories-for-children.html
This lists my stories for children that have appeared in anthologies.
My Books for Other Writers http://www.gilljameswriter.eu/p/my-books-for-other-writers.html
I have just one listed at the moment. but I intend to add to them.
Catalogue of Books for Children http://www.gilljameswriter.eu/p/blog-page_81.html
This is really a big index of where you can find books by year of publication, age groups, school type, genre, author, title or theme. Posts are aimed at teachers, parents and librarians and perhaps other adults who enjoy reading books written for children. The articles are quite pragmatic, even discussing lay out and fonts. However, although I discuss the content I do not provide spoilers. I still read a lot of books written for children. This seemed a good way of sharing the content.
Useful links http://www.gilljameswriter.eu/p/useful-links.html
These are links to articles I think will be useful other writers. They are listed in categories. Why not have a browse?
TWL-You’re also a publisher of such things as anthologies and flash fiction. Two things I know lots of people are interested in so I have lots of questions-
When did you get started as a publisher?
GJ-I started publishing in 2008. I was working on a 0.5 contract at the university and wanted to do something else beside it as well as the writing.
TWL-What are the names of your publishing companies and what do each one specialize in?
GJ-Bridge House Publishing http://bridgehousepublishing.co.uk/
We publish an annual collection by diverse writers, around about 15 November, on a Christmassy theme that we encourage writers to subvert.
We’ve also been working with the Waterloo Festival and run their competition. https://www.waterloofestival.com/writing-competition-celebration2019
We are also publishing single author collections by writers we’ve published before. These can include stories we’ve already published as well as new ones.
Chapeltown Publishing http://www.chapeltownpublishing.uk/
Here we publish:
collections offlash fiction
my Holocaust books – The Schellberg Cycle
This is an online publication that offers a short story every day, tagged with a drink, at 4 p.m. BST or GMT. Every year we publish a volume of the best stories published on the site the year before. We pay royalties on the book but not on the site. Writers published on the site may add links to their bio. We welcome seasonal stories. Flash fiction and stories no longer that 3000 words are preferred.
The Red Telephone http://www.trtpublishing.co.uk/
This is the imprint for young adult books.
TWL-Anything in particular you’re looking for?
GJ-A strong voice, an actual story –we see some very good writing sometimes but there is no actual story – and a slightly unusual take on life. Read some of the stories to get a feel for this.
TWL-Anything that will earn an instant rejection?
GJ-Gratuitous sex or violence, though sex and violence are welcome if they’re a genuine part of the story. If it’s a competition you’ll be disqualified if you haven’t followed the rules.
TWL-If you could offer three tips for writers what would they be?
GJ-1.Never give up.You’ll get there if you really want to. Get a good submission strategy.
3.Read, read, read
TWL-Anything special coming up on the horizon you’d like to share with us?
GJ-We’re offering training courses on marketing and editing to get more people on the team. If you’d like to get news of these, sign up for our newsletter at http://eepurl.com/cDHFU1 We will also shortly be extending Chapeltown to include stories about feisty females.
WRITER / PUBLISHER / CREATIVE WRITING LECTURER