Friday, 19 July 2013


It's been a struggle this time, but as of 07.00 this morning our two new books are all finished and ready to publish! Unfortunately Manifold Press seems to be cursed with computers that don't like the heat, and we've had one or two logistical problems along the way. Nevertheless we're lucky enough to have good people helping us out who are prepared to work ridiculous hours, and we're back on schedule by the skin of our teeth!

Those of you who buy .pdfs will notice a change in format this time; we've gone for a larger page size to tie in with the new cover size we're going to be introducing. Over the next few months we'll be retrofitting all our existing .pdf files to bring them up to the same standard - after which, we hope not to have to change again for quite a while! (If at all.)

We'd also like to take this opportunity to mention that those of you buying Cimorene Ross's debut novel THE EAGLE'S WING will discover that there's a little more to the file than just the story. We've decided to include a couple of glossaries - one of general terms, one of specific people and places - for anyone who may not be completely familiar with the Romans and the way they did things. There's also a family tree so that you can keep track of Lucius Valerius Carus's many relatives. These take up a very small proportion of the page-count and we had briefly considered producing them as a separate supplement, but in the end we decided to package everything together for the sake of convenience. We hope that some of you will find this useful, and the rest will not find it too annoying!

And now the Press is going to have a brief break to recover from all this frantic activity and prepare itself for publication of our two new books on August 1st!

Monday, 15 July 2013


A Paean to Wikipedia

I love Wikipedia. I may have mentioned that already in my blog. A few times. But it bears repeating! And I’m sure there are some likeminded folk out there reading this right now…

Just the other day my husband and I were watching an episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit when they mentioned ‘the Dark Net’ – you know, where all the really nasty stuff is kept. “They’re just making that up!” I scoff. Bruce promptly hauls his laptop over, and a few taps later he says, “Actually, there’s a page on Wikipedia…” I totally LOL’d.

I was fascinated to find related Wikipedia articles on:

  • the Deep Web, which is all the (mostly innocent) stuff that simply isn’t or can’t be picked up by search engines, which trawl the Surface Web;
  • a Darknet, which is a network where only trusted peers can interact, and can do so anonymously. Wikipedia suggests that ‘Darknets are often associated with dissident political communications and illegal activities’, so I’m guessing that’s what the SVU were investigating; and
  • the Dark Internet, which refers to computers or networks that are deliberately not connected to the Internet, or are so obsolete as to not be able to connect.

Fascinating stuff! Okay, if I were writing a dissertation rather than novels, I wouldn’t rely on Wikipedia, but still. It’s quick, convenient, and full of things you never knew you needed to know.

Perhaps my favourite page ever is Toilet paper orientation – a page so long and detailed that it includes nine sections titled Context and relevance, Preliminaries, Arguments, Survey results, Themes (three subheadings), Consequences, Similar controversies, Solutions (two subheadings) and Noted preferences. Not to mention a raft of endnotes and references… You won’t find a pesky little ‘This article needs additional citations’ warning here! Someone took this topic very very seriously indeed.

As well they might. This is serious stuff. I stumbled across the article while writing my novel The Apothecary’s Garden in which Hilary, a lifelong loner, is coming to terms with sharing his home with Tom. ‘Now,’ I wondered, ‘what are the issues they’d face…?’ I replied immediately, of course. I didn’t have to look far at all for an answer. ‘They hang the toilet paper rolls in opposite directions!!!’ There was more total LOL’ing. ‘Perfect,’ I respond, high–fiving myself.

You may well be nodding to indicate your deep understanding of this issue right now. If you’re not, well… all I can say is that Bruce and I moved into our current home over eight years ago. Neither bathroom nor en suite had a toilet roll holder when we moved in. And (despite some desultory shopping efforts way back when) they still don’t. The toilet roll sits on a nearby shelf instead, and it doesn’t matter which way up it’s standing. It’s arrangements like this that save marriages, I tell you!

In any case, I needed to know what terms to actually use to describe the different orientations, so I Googled something that must have been appropriate, for the relevant Wikipedia article was listed first in the search results. What more could I possibly need to know about the matter?

Like any encyclopaedia (or dictionary or thesaurus), it’s hard to stop at just one titbit of information… and of course those hyperlinks make it all too easy to browse your winding way through some of the four million articles… until you overload your short–term memory and entirely forget what you were looking for in the first place.

Beware the home page! It tempts you hither and thither with a featured article, current news–related articles, ‘Did you know…’ questions from the newest content, and ‘On this day…’ snippets as well.

Which is how I found out that Liu Rushi (1618–1664) was a famous courtesan and poet in the late Ming dynasty, who ‘embarked on a campaign to marry the respected scholar Qian Qianyi’ by dressing in men’s clothing and asking him his opinion on one of her poems. Within a year she’d moved in, they were together until he died, and their poetry was published together as well as separately. Wikipedia notes that ‘her affinity for cross–dressing persisted after they were married … on occasion [she] made calls on her husband’s behalf whilst dressed in his Confucian robes’. What an awesome pair they must have been!

From any Wikipedia page you can click on the Random article link, which might lead you anywhere else. Which is a useful way to introduce my last example, because I cannot for the life of me remember how I stumbled across it. I was very pleased I did, though!

The article is titled Competent man, and it describes ‘a stock character [male or female] who can do anything perfectly, or at least exhibits a very wide range of abilities and knowledge, making him a form of polymath’. This isn’t a concept I knew about when I wrote The Definitive Albert J Sterne, but it was such a joy to find the article, as that is exactly what I had in mind for Albert himself.

Albert isn’t mentioned in the Wikipedia article, mind you! Cited examples include the well–loved Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings, and the awesome Buckaroo Banzai, along with the somewhat more expected Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, and The Doctor from Doctor Who.

What really cracked me up here, however, was serendipitously discovering The Most Interesting Man in the World, a character in an advertising campaign for beer, who is ‘a bearded, debonair gentleman in his 70s’ (bless his silk socks). Outrageous tales of his youthful derring–do  are recounted in a dryly humorous style. I’m laughing just re–reading the article! (And while we’re here, I also love how these off–beat topics are somehow made to fit into the encyclopaedic template. The Most Interesting Man’s occupation is listed as ‘Advisor’.)

On that droll note, it’s time for one last random article… which in this case is the disambiguation for Salivary nuclei… And I didn’t know I needed to know that! Thank you once more, Wikipedia. I doff my hat.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

New review of HOMOSAPIEN

Yes, more than two years since the last one! Writer A.B. Gayle is clearly going through Julie's back catalogue and enjoying every one - and has written a thoughtful and articulate review of HOMOSAPIEN entitled "Is It Real? Who cares as long as it's Entertaining"

Again, it's a slightly difficult review to quote from, but we enjoyed this bit:

I really enjoyed the book both on a visceral and intellectual level. Those only looking for the former might be frustrated that we aren’t given the story in traditional format, but I doubt the theme could have been explored so effectively if we were.

It's always a treat when someone - especially a fellow-author - really gets what you're driving at; it makes all the hard work and the solitary hours of planning suddenly seem worthwhile, somehow!

Congratulations to Julie, and our thanks to A.B. Gayle.

Monday, 8 July 2013

New review of ALWAYS WITH US

Over at Jessewave, guest reviewer LenaLena has delivered her verdict on Morgan Cheshire's ALWAYS WITH US. It would be quite fair to say she wasn't exactly bowled over, but she still managed to find things to say about it that we are wholeheartedly able to endorse:

So it’s not a historical novel, but it really isn’t a romance either. I’m sure there are other people out there who disagree with me and who find this love story utterly charming in its restraint. The restraint matches the time period well, of course, and I actually liked the way the communication between the main characters was so very stiff upper lip.

It's true that some readers will find ALWAYS WITH US rather milder fare than they're used to - but we're assured that there are indeed a number of readers out there who prefer a more decorous and slower-burning type of story development, and we're very sorry that we were unable to meet this particular reader's expectations.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


The Kindle edition of Julie's popular first 'Albert' book, THE DEFINITIVE ALBERT J. STERNE, is finding a whole new readership, many of whom have discovered it first through the discussions on Goodreads. This was the case with the author A.B. Gayle, who has recently taken the trouble to post a wonderfully in-depth review entitled Charm: A Two-Edged Sword!

It's a little difficult to pick out a quote - you'll understand why, if you read the review - but we especially liked this line:

This isn’t a romance, but it is a love story. Not romantic love but deeper, more meaningful love.

It's the ultimate compliment for a writer when another practitioner of the same craft can spare time from a busy schedule (all writers are busy, by definition!) to comment on their book, and in this case the praise that's heaped on Albert's head - and Julie's, too, of course - is in our opinion entirely merited.

Normal service will be resumed ...

We've had a bit of computer trouble over the weekend - specifically, the Press's e-mail account hasn't accepted incoming messages for a few days. We managed to catch up with incoming orders because they also appear in our PayPal account, but if you've e-mailed us for anything in the past few days we may not have received it - so please get in touch again! The problem has now been fixed, thank goodness, and we hope to carry on as normal. Well, what passes for normal with us, anyway!

Statistics for June/ uploads to partner sites

Apologies for not posting these yesterday; the Press took a day off to visit its mother and see 'Despicable Me 2'. (One of these activities was more enjoyable than the other!)

Our best-seller for June through the Press website was Adam's BETWEEN NOW AND THEN, but for the second month running the highest-selling title overall has been Jane's oustandingly popular ABOVE ALL.

We've uploaded our previous two titles - Morgan Cheshire's ALWAYS WITH US and Julie Bozza's highly-acclaimed THE APOTHECARY'S GARDEN - to our partner sites, Rainbow, All Romance, Kindle and Smashwords, and THE APOTHECARY'S GARDEN is also now available in a Print on Demand paperback edition.

For anyone still interested in monitoring our response times - which we record on a routine basis - the average for the three months to 1 July was 5 hours and 45 minutes.

- - -

Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that the covers for our new books differ slightly in format from the ones we've been using up until now. Over the next few months we'll be introducing a new set of covers across the board (including to Smashwords, where we'll eventually replace the temporary ones). In most cases the difference will be extremely subtle - a new font, and a slightly different crop of the image - although unfortunately with both Julie's THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH and Chris FOOL'S ERRAND we've been unable to get hold of higher-resolution versions of the original picture and have had to do the best we can with the nearest equivalent. The plan at the moment is to have all these new covers rolled out everywhere on or before 1 November, however, so watch this space!

Monday, 1 July 2013

New titles for 1 August announced today!

We're delighted to announce that, as from 1 August this year, we will not only be offering you two contrasting new books to read but also a whole new author!

Cimorene Ross is an old friend of ours with an interest in historical subjects, and has only recently been prevailed upon to join our ranks. Her first book is THE EAGLE'S WING, set in Northern Europe during the second century CE, which tells the entertaining story of Decurion Lucius Valerius Carus and the heathen slave, Keret, whom he buys on a whim. If you're looking for a restrained, easy-going romance with a solidly-researched historical background, this could well be the book for you!

Our second offering this time is very different in tone; it, too, is set in the past, but that's where the similarities end! Not only is the author's name - Jane Elliot - a familiar one, but MONTANA RED is set against the background of the Old West; it details the adventures of the hapless Henry, when he accidentally falls into the hands of Red and his friends in the fascinating and secretive gay sub-culture of the nineteenth century.

We think you'll agree that these two titles alone live up to our policy of providing as wide a variety of m/m fiction as we possibly can, to cater to all tastes; whether you're more interested in slow-burning romance or a no-holds-barred exploration of gay sexuality, this is definitely where you'll find it!