Saturday, 19 December 2015

Kudos for A PRIDE OF POPPIES

We have to admit to being rather proud of our charity anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES, which features modern GLBTQI fiction of the Great War. So we've been tickled pink to find the anthology mentioned in end-of-year dispatches.

Kazza of On Top Down Under reviews listed the anthology as one of her Books of the Year for 2015.

One of the best anthologies I've had the pleasure of reading. Every single story is well crafted, well edited, and fascinating. Some stories were so good I’d love to see them longer but there is not one story that misses a beat. ... If you like a good LGBT historical, you like queer fiction of a literary quality, then this anthology covers all the letters and is beautifully written. Oh yes, the proceeds of sales go to The Royal British Legion.

(We were also pleased to note that one of the POPPIES contributors, Barry Brennessel, came equal first in Kazza's list with his SIDEWAYS DOWN THE SKY.)

Meanwhile, the indefatigable Elisa Rolle asked her friends to name their favourite LGBT books of 2015. POPPIES was nominated by not one but two people: Manifold Press stalwart Chris Quinton and POPPIES contributor Charlie Cochrane.

Charlie: At the Gate (Jay Lewis Taylor) ... In my reading notes I used one word for it: stunning. It's the sort of story that made me think, "Well, I might as well give up writing because I could never produce anything this good". You can almost smell the sea and feel the roll of the ship as you read it.

Chris: Quite apart from the sheer quality of the writing across all the entries, and the eye-catching cover, every one of the stories brought something memorable to the reading. Poignant, gut-wrenching, uplifting, all of them wonderful portrayals of the human spirit, of people not only coping with the ravages of the First World War, but also the difficult life of homosexuals in the early 20th century.

 Thank you so much, Kazza, Elisa, Charlie and Chris! We're delighted that you enjoyed this volume - and we hope that you, Dear Reader, will enjoy it likewise.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

AUTHOR GUEST BLOG NUMBER TWENTY ONE - Chris Quinton

Continuing the series of blog posts in which our authors revisit their previous Manifold Press titles, we asked Chris Quinton to talk to us about the inspiration behind ALOES - and the result was the following fascinating article!

* * * * *

ALOES - by Chris Quinton


Aloes was one of my first books with Manifold Press, released on May 1st, 2010. How did Aloes happen? Well, some years ago, and prior to the birth of Manifold Press, one of my other publishers was in the habit of holding competitions on their private authors-only Yahoo group, and one of the once a month challenges was to write a three hundred word story on a three word prompt. I usually did fairly well on them, and they sometimes triggered an idea for a longer tale. On one particular occasion, the prompt was zinnias, scrapbook, and couch. I think. My memory isn't all it could be. Anyhow, I wrote three hundred words in the first person, featuring this poor guy who walked in on his boyfriend cheating on him, and, if I remember rightly, I won that month (no prizes, just a pat on the back). However, Perry, the hero of my triple drabble, sort of stayed with me. He hung around in the back of my brain cell, every now and then politely clearing his throat to remind me he was there.

I knew I'd tell his story sooner or later, but expected it to be later rather than sooner. Then I read an article on synaesthesia, and Perry pricked up his ears. And stuck out his elbows. I can take a hint, so I started researching.

Synaesthesia is a fascinating condition, and has many variables. At least ten forms are known, the most common being Chromesthesia where a sound is perceived as a colour, and Grapheme-colour synaesthesia where numbers and each letter of the alphabet are seen as a colour.

Something I found particularly interesting is that a lot of synaesthetes don't see their condition as an affliction, but a gift that can enhance their lives. Nor is synaesthesia a modern phenomenon. As a mind-boggling coincidence, while I was writing this blog a godsend of an article appeared [thank you, Fiona Pickles] showing that Vincent Van Gogh was almost certainly a synaesthete, specifically under the Chromesthesia heading. In a letter he describes seeing colours as sounds in a matter of fact way that shows he was clearly comfortable with it.

From a letter to his brother Theo [the italics are mine]: "Some time ago you rightly said that every colourist has his own characteristic scale of colours. This is also the case with Black and White (sic), it is the same after all — one must be able to go from the highest light to the deepest shadow, and this with only a few simple ingredients. Some artists have a nervous hand at drawing, which gives their technique something of the sound peculiar to a violin, for instance, Lemud, Daumier, Lançon — others, for example, Gavarni and Bodmer, remind one more of piano playing. Do you feel this too? Millet is perhaps a stately organ."

Okay, so Perry is a synaesthete. But how? He wasn't born with the condition. The logical possibilities were either an illness that affected the brain, such as meningitis, or a blow to the head. The latter being the more dramatic, that's the one I chose to run with, especially as I had remembered some books and articles I'd read so many years ago, it isn't funny. They featured one Peter Hurkos, born 1911, a Dutchman who'd had a severe head wound after a fall from a ladder in 1941, and had a metal plate fitted over the resulting hole in his skull [that last detail is from my memory]. From then on he began to experience psychic phenomenon.

Hurkos had a long career as a professional psychic, specialising as a psychic detective. He moved to the USA in 1958, and by 1969 he claimed he had solved an impressive twenty-seven successful murder cases around the world, including the Boston Strangler serial killer, and the Sharon Tate Murders. Sadly, that resume turned out to be pretty much bogus. But despite the great Randi and others proving Hurkos was a fake, he retained a loyal following for many years. He remained in the USA until his death in 1988, having wrongly predicted the date of his demise...

Perry's is a version of the more rare lexical-gustatory synaesthesia that I've given a paranormal twist. Normally, synaesthetes with that form experience a particular word as a taste or a smell. In Perry's case, he can taste the intent behind the word, whether it is a lie or a truth, but it isn't a talent he was born with. In his case, I decided it resulted from a combination of some dodgy out of date medication and a blow to the head that dropped him into a coma.

The human brain is an amazingly complex organ. Head trauma has been known to cause some strange and heartbreaking after-effects for the sufferer's family and friends, amnesia being the least of it. Personality changes, speech pattern and accent changes, have all been recorded. There have even been cases where the patient has awoken with the ability to speak a foreign language with a fluency they'd never shown previously. Hurkos' claim to have gained a psychic talent isn't such a great stretch, and Perry's new talent is only a few steps farther on.

Perry's new talent isn't static. Over the course of the story, it expands from the taste of bitter aloes for the spoken lie or crisp fresh apples for truth, and it has the potential to be a curse as well as a blessing.

CORRECTION AND APOLOGY: Jay Lewis Taylor

A few hours after posting about the Goodreads Members Choice Awards nominations yesterday we were informed that we'd accidentally been sent the wrong badge for Jay Lewis Taylor's DANCE OF STONE, which was not nominated for the 'Hall of Fame' after all but in the 'Favourite All Time M/M Romance' category. We've made the correction on our website now, and would like to apologise to Jay for inadvertently perpetuating this error. (OTOH, we're sure it's only a matter of time ... !)


DANCE OF STONE

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Goodreads Members' Choice Awards

We're honoured to have been nominated in three categories this year!


Congratulations to all the authors involved - and particularly, this time, to our good friend Jay Lewis Taylor who wrote two of these books and contributed very strongly to the third - and thank you kindly to the person or persons who nominated us; we really appreciate your confidence!

New review of IN DEEP

Sorry to say that once again a review of one of our books has sneaked out without us being aware of it, and we've only belatedly caught up. This time it's a review of Adam Fitzroy's IN DEEP by our good friend Feliz over at the Prism Book Alliance:

This is a quiet read, not at all depressing but nothing light and fluffy either. If you love mysteries – especially the classic whodunnit – and if you don’t mind the undertones in terms of physical affection, you can’t go wrong with this book.

We're pretty sure this review - and the rating of 4.75 out of 5 - will delight the author; thank you, Feliz, for your time and your very welcome comments.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Rainbow Awards 2015 - the final verdict



It's been a pretty enthralling 24 hours, but the results are now public at last - and it's congratulations to Jay Lewis Taylor who achieved a Runner-Up (2nd)
place in the Gay Historical Fiction category with THE PEACOCK'S EYE,
and to Chris Quinton who achieved a Runner-Up (3rd)
in the Gay Historical Romance category with UNDERCOVER BLUES.
We're seriously proud of both of you, and of our other authors who received Honourable Mentions and were also finalists:
it was a really impressive success all round,
and we couldn't be happier for you all!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Queer Company event and 'A Certain Persuasion' anthology

QUEER COMPANY

 We are all a tad overexcited about our QUEER COMPANY 2 event, even though there's still something like 340 sleeps to go until Saturday 5 November!

The event is strictly limited in terms of size. We are planning for a happy yet relaxed sense of being among a small group of friends. We have chosen the venue accordingly - and even though we are booking out the entire place this time, our numbers are still limited to 50.

We have already received over 20 registrations, so if you can plan ahead for next November, it might be worth securing your place. Also, you might like to take advantage of our early bird rate for the delegate's fee of £40. This will go up to £50 from 1 February.

We are utterly delighted to welcome Sue Brown and UK GAY ROMANCE as our first sponsors. It's terrific to be partnered up with this blog which does so much to promote British authors, British characters and British settings in our global genre.

If you'd like to discover which other cool people are already registered, check out the WHO'S COMING? page on the event website!

A CERTAIN PERSUASION

Many of us are re-reading our Jane Austen novels - and some of us are even writing our stories already - for this anthology which will feature LGBTQIA fiction based in the Austenverse.

The new release date is 1 November, to tie in with QUEER COMPANY. The deadline has been shifted accordingly, to 1 May 2016. So, maybe that makes it possible for you to contribute as well ... ? You'd be very welcome.

Check the CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS page for details!

Wishing you all well, no matter how / whether you celebrate this festive season.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

New review of A PRIDE OF POPPIES

We don't usually flag up informal reader reviews on 'Goodreads' or other similar sites, simply because there are so many of them and it would be impossible to keep track, but we've just been made aware of one which is really too wonderful not to share - so hopefully we can be forgiven just this once!

'Ije the Devourer of Books' seems to have consumed the entire anthology in a single sitting - what about sleep? we ask - and to have been delighted with it:

I thought the stories were brilliant in the way they depicted the lives touched by the war, the strength of love and the challenge of hidden love at a time of war. I enjoyed reading these and it is another volume of top quality gay literature from Manifold Press.

We can't help being thrilled to received such a lovely review. Sometimes the independent publishing world can be a lonely place, but knowing that our books are out there making friends is all the consolation we need; thank you, Ije!

Monday, 16 November 2015

New review of A PRIDE OF POPPIES

Actually, this one isn't exactly new, it's one that slipped through the net and was discovered accidentally by our good friend - thank you, mate!

A review by Ace Katzenbooks appeared in the September 2015 issue of The Book Breeze and was subsequently posted online on 23 October:

A good collection of stories, and an excellent reminder that even when things are tough, we can remember that for LGBT people a hundred years ago, they were much more dangerous.

Thank you, Ace, we're very glad to know that you enjoyed the book!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

We're doing it again: Queer Company 2



Queer Company 2 banner

Reading, writing and publishing are fulfilling occupations in themselves, but we at Manifold Press also feel very lucky to be working in this particular genre – not least because of the wonderful sense of community. To celebrate our excellent friendships – and in the hope of making even more – Manifold Press is delighted to be hosting this UK-based event.

Queer Company 2 will be a small, friendly gathering designed to engage and inspire. This one-day event is planned for Saturday 5 November 2016 at The Jam Factory in Oxford.

Please be assured that everyone is welcome! Readers, authors, bloggers, publishers, reviewers … The only requirement is that you love this genre we share.

Our first event at the same venue in May 2015 was very well received. We hope these gatherings will continue, with annual events complementing the wonderful work done by UK Gay Romance and UK Meet.

We will be taking the opportunity to formally launch our new anthology A Certain Persuasion, featuring modern GLBTQIA fiction set in the Austenverse. In honour of that, we are aiming for an Austen / Regency / Romantic theme for the event.

If you’d like to join us, there is more detailed information available on the Manifold Events website.
Registrations are now open, with an early bird rate available.

Please note that, due to the nature of the event, we can accommodate no more than 50 people attending. (We will maintain a waiting list if necessary.)

Thank you for your interest. We’re looking forward to enjoying your company!

Saturday, 14 November 2015

New reviews of SMOOTHIE, IN DEEP

It seems to be either 'famine' or 'feast' when it comes to reviews, and this week it's been 'feast'! In addition to the Honourable Mentions in the Rainbow Awards which have appeared recently, we are now in a position to bring you two new reviews of our books - both from our friends at LoveBytes Reviews!

On November 7 (and we're sorry to say we've only just become aware of it) a review by Roberta appeared for Jane Elliot's SMOOTHIE, which gave it four stars and commented as follows:

I have to say that for a story over 200 pages, this story flew by and it didn’t feel as it took any time at all. I just sat down and didn’t stop until the book was done. I couldn’t believe it, this book just flew by and I didn’t even notice, I was that caught up in the story.

Thank you, Roberta, we're delighted that you loved the book so much!

A few days later, on November 12, there was a review by Amber of Adam Fitzroy's newest title IN DEEP, which gave it three stars:

As far as mysteries go this one was expertly told. The plot is solid, the landscape was beautiful in its description, and the characters were well developed. The whole place was so intriguing, the way the town worked and how they all were related somehow...

We're very glad you enjoyed the mystery, Amber, and thank you for your comments!

And once more, from the Rainbow Awards ...

It's difficult to know what to say about this - in fact it's almost impossible to take it in - but yet again we have exciting news from this year's Rainbow Awards, with this time an Honourable Mention for A PRIDE OF POPPIES, our WW1 anthology!

One of the judges called it:

An excellent anthology of World War 1 stories all told with a remarkable eye for authenticity and a great deal of love and compassion.

This means that seven out of the eight books we entered have now been distinguished in this way, a success rate which has quite frankly blown the very few brain cells we had left! We're beyond thrilled with this, as you can probably imagine, and we suspect we're going to be absolutely unbearable on the subject for a while! [We'd do the happy dance, but you really don't want to see that!]

Our congratulations and thanks go to everyone involved in making A PRIDE OF POPPIES the success it has been - to the authors and the editing team in the first instance, and also of course to the readers. We can all quite justifiably share in the enjoyment of this:

RAINBOW AWARDS 2015
HONOURABLE MENTION

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Still *more* from the Rainbow Awards ...

The current Rainbow Awards truly have been the gift that goes on giving! We learned today that Julie Bozza has been distinguished for a second time this year, this time for THE THOUSAND SMILES OF NICHOLAS GORING - the third book in the ever-popular BUTTERFLY HUNTER sequence. Once again the judge's comments were brief, so we'll quote them in full:

"A really engaging story that was easy to follow despite being the 3rd book in a series I had not read."

Congratulations again, Julie!

RAINBOW AWARDS 2015
HONOURABLE MENTION



We genuinely can't wrap our brains round this; out of eight books published in the qualifying period we have received no less than six Honourable Mentions! Does it get any better than this?????

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

More news from the Rainbow Awards!

This year's Rainbow Awards have turned out to be an absolute delight for all of us at MANIFOLD PRESS; in addition to the four Honourable mentions so far, we can now also bring you news of one for Julie Bozza's recent title MITCH REBECKI GETS A LIFE!

In this case the judge's remarks were only brief, so here they are in full:

Enjoyable story with interesting characters. Loved the different perspective on Australia and Australians, and the ending was realistic, rather than cliché.

Since these last four words in particular are very important to us, we're especially pleased to be able to report them!

RAINBOW AWARDS 2015
HONOURABLE MENTION

Congratulations, Julie; thoroughly deserved!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Two new books released today!

Happy Sunday, everyone - and here we are with details of the two new titles which have been released this morning!

R.A. Padmos returns with a new tale about life in Kinbridge – the setting for her highly successful novel RAVAGES.  This time she delves into the city’s past – and into a society only just beginning to tolerate homosexual relationships between consenting couples in private – with the tale of Dylan and Max who, meeting by chance, must make adjustments before they can contemplate a life together; IN THE PRIVACY OF THEIR HOME is a fascinating study of a world which has long since – thank goodness! – ceased to be.

Another long-time absentee is Adam Fitzroy, returning with the tale of retired police officer Ted – determined to clear up the mystery surrounding an unexpected death on an isolated Scottish island – who meets and becomes attracted to the enigmatic Athol, thought by some to have guilty knowledge of the tragedy. Disentangling fact from rumour brings them closer together, and they find themselves sharing both perils and pleasures as the mystery unravels in IN DEEP.

The books are available from all our usual outlets - Smashwords, AllRomance, and of course from your regional Amazon - and we're looking forward to hearing what you think of them!



- - - - -



Our authors will be dropping in and out of the Goodreads Manifold Press group all day, so if you have any questions please hop on over and join the discuission.  There will also be a Twitter chat today at 10am PST / 1pm EST / 6pm GMT

Friday, 30 October 2015

The Rainbow Awards strike again!

Still boggling from yesterday's astonishing twofer in the Rainbow Awards, we went online this morning and found out that lightning had struck once more! This time, we can congratulate Jay Lewis Taylor on impressing the judges with THE PEACOCK'S EYE:

"One of the best historical novels I've read in a while. The author captured late Elizabethan London perfectly. I could almost smell the ambience. Research has been flawless as far as I could tell."

So, once more, we have the opportunity of proclaiming that another of our books has received the coveted:

RAINBOW AWARDS 2015
HONOURABLE MENTION



We'd tell you how proud we are of everybody, but we have an idea you can probably guess!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

More good news from the Rainbow Awards!

Once more, Manifold Press seems to have made quite an impression on the judges at the Rainbow Awards; we're thrilled to have received two more Honourable Mentions in the latest batch to be released!

To take the books in both alphabetical order and chronological order of release, ESCAPING FROM HIM by Liam Livings drew the following response from the judges:

This is my first book by this author. From the beginning I was pulled into the world he created. I could not put this story down needing to see what would happen next and how the story would end. I will be looking for more from this author in the future.

RAINBOW AWARDS 2015
HONOURABLE MENTION



And secondly - but by no means secondary - here's the judges' verdict on SMOOTHIE by Jane Elliot, which was this Press's first full-length female/female offering:

Must read page turner that will leave you laughing, gripping the arm of your chair, and cheering for the underdog right to the end. A fascinating read. True writer’s craft.

And there's plenty more in similar vein, so once again ...

RAINBOW AWARDS 2015
HONOURABLE MENTION



For a Press producing only eight books a year to have such a high proportion of successes in a very tough awards season is almost overwhelming; all of us here at Manifold Press would like to thank the judges and congratulate the authors. We hope we may be forgiven for being ... just a little over-excited this morning!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

New review of UNDERCOVER BLUES...

... but not merely that! This is the time of year when details of the Rainbow Awards start to become available, and we're delighted to say that Chris Quinton's UNDERCOVER BLUES has attracted not only an Honourable Mention in this year's list but also a lovely review from Elisa herself.

A simple plot that was very well executed, never lost itself in trying-too-hard originality or fell into any cliché traps, and for that it deserves full points.

Having been involved with the evolution of this book since its very earliest beginnings (and you really don't want to know how long ago that was!) we can only say that we're absolutely thrilles to know that it has been so well received. Congratulations to Chris, and thank you Elisa!

RAINBOW AWARDS 2015
HONOURABLE MENTION

Saturday, 17 October 2015

AUTHOR GUEST BLOG NUMBER TWENTY - Jane Elliot

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that the regular Author Guest Blog Post is a little late this time, for which we would like to apologise - both to you and even more importantly to our author, Jane Elliot. It was simply a question of losing track of time, resulting in a panicked conversation late last night: 'Hang on, what's the date? Oh, bugger!' We'll try not to do this again.

It's particularly embarrassing as this is such an important post from Jane, as you'll see. Having said which, I'll leave her to tell it in her own words.

- - - - -

It’s the End of the Trail for Me

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. While other kids wanted to be astronauts or ballerinas, I wanted to be a bestseller. To me, the ideal future was one in which I wrote a seductively engaging book, passed it off to a dashingly clever agent and watched as the entire world was entertained by my words.

That dream carried me for nearly thirty years, as I learned how to write and found ways to share my stories. I spent a good decade of my post-college years working meaningless jobs to pay the bills while I wrote like a madwoman in the evenings and went through endless rounds of rejections from agents. I was so sure that all I had to do was get one book out there and my career as a writer would be made.

I still remember writing END OF THE TRAIL. It was a bit of a lark – I’d been writing m/m fanfiction for years, but all of my family and friends told me it was waste of time to write original gay fiction, as no one would publish it. Still, I was having fun with the characters and I’d been more than a little worn down by years of constant rejections as I’d tried to get my more mainstream books into an overcrowded market. Just like fanfiction, END OF THE TRAIL was practice for the Real Thing (i.e., the book that would eventually make me famous.)

It was pretty amazing when END OF THE TRAIL was published – for the first time I could tell all of my family and friends that those years upon years of work was worth it – I was an author! Supremely confident in my writing dream, I sat back and waited for the money to roll in, counting down the days when I could quit the drudgery of my job and start my career as a professional author.

(I can be very naïve at times.)

After a couple of years and a couple more books, I finally understood that most authors do not, in fact, make a living on their writing. Now that I was looking at spending the rest of my life working for a living, with writing as a low-paying side job, I realized that I didn’t want to spend the next thirty-five years doing something I hated, just so that I could afford to spend an hour or two in the evenings doing something I enjoyed. It was time to find a career that spoke to me just as much as writing.

I’ve spent the last three years in an employment program that allowed me to try out several different jobs. It was a tough three years, with very little income and a move every year to a new place and a new job, but in the end it paid off – I finally found something that I enjoyed as much as the written word. And, unlike the written word, it pays enough for me to live on.

With a new career in hand, it was time to take stock of writing and I finally came to the realization that my idealized dream of being a reclusive writer who did nothing more than put words to paper was never going to happen. These days it’s at least as important for published authors to be salespeople as it is for them to be writers, and I’m terrible at retail.

Fortunately, there are now myriad ways for a writer to connect to readers without going the publication route. Of course, they don’t pay anything. On the other hand, I now make enough money doing something I enjoy that I can afford for writing to be a hobby again, and it’s important to me to put as much passion into my new career as I put into all of those years of writing.

To that end, I’m announcing the retirement of Jane Elliot from published fiction. The novels I have written for Manifold Press will stay available, but going forward I’m going to focus on writing strictly for fun. For the next little while, at least, that’s going to mean fanfiction. If you’re open to pairings of all genders, I hope you’ll give my new works a try.

I want to end with some thanks. A huge, huge thanks to Manifold Press, which has been amazingly supportive to me over the years. Special kudos to Fiona and Julie, who have been the best friends a writer could ask for. And, most of all, I want to give my deeply felt gratitude to my readers – without you I’d never have made it so far. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

- - - - -


What can we say in response to that, except that it's been a joy to work with Jane - always professional, responsive and fully in command of her subject matter? Any editor or publisher with an ounce of intelligence would be thrilled to work with an author of Jane's calibre, and we've had that privilege for almost six years now. While we totally respect and support her decision to move on to other projects, we can't help being sorry that from now on life will be taking us on diverging trails. However we haven't quite given up hope of maybe running across one another again in the future!

All the best, Jane, with whatever you choose to do, from everyone at Manifold Press!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Two new titles announced!

We’re delighted to announce two intriguing new books, to be published on 1 November 2015, and to welcome back two stalwart authors who have been missing from our list for far too long:

R.A. Padmos returns with a new tale about life in Kinbridge – the setting for her highly successful novel RAVAGES.  This time she delves into the city’s past – and into a society only just beginning to tolerate homosexual relationships between consenting couples in private – with the tale of Dylan and Max who, meeting by chance, must make adjustments before they can contemplate a life together; IN THE PRIVACY OF THEIR HOME is a fascinating study of a world which has long since – thank goodness! – ceased to be.

Another long-time absentee is Adam Fitzroy, returning with the tale of retired police officer Ted – determined to clear up the mystery surrounding an unexpected death on an isolated Scottish island – who meets and becomes attracted to the enigmatic Athol, thought by some to have guilty knowledge of the tragedy. Disentangling fact from rumour brings them closer together, and they find themselves sharing both perils and pleasures as the mystery unravels in IN DEEP.

We're really glad to see these two popular authors returning after a long break, and looking forward immensely to their compelling new titles!

Friday, 18 September 2015

New review of SMOOTHIE

To our great delight, Jane Elliot's new title SMOOTHIE - our first female/female book, and a bit of a departure for the Press - has been most enthusiastically received on The Romance Reviews!

Reviewer Delta gives it five stars, having clearly liked the three central characters - Heather, Natalie and Jocelyn - and the fast-paced action of the book, and concludes by saying this:

Overall, this book was one action-packed adventure after another, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed every page of this book. Bottom Line: Female driven suspense novel with great action and dialogue and terrific character development. Highly recommended!

Thank you, Delta; we're very glad SMOOTHIE was a hit with you, and we're sure other readers will enjoy it just as much!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

AUTHOR GUEST BLOG NUMBER NINETEEN - Julie Bozza

Exploring the light and the dark - The Definitive Albert J. Sterne

The Press has asked me to talk about the first novel of mine that they published, back in November 2010. The Definitive Albert J. Sterne was also the first ‘proper’ novel I ever attempted, at the grand old age of 29. I began writing it way back when The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991) was still new. I was fascinated not only by Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling, but also with Anthony Hopkins’ Dr Hannibal Lecter, and I loved that they were fascinated by each other as well.

(I was also very much into vampires at the time, from Bram Stoker’s to Anne Rice’s, which may or may not be relevant. The fantasy rather than the reality…? Anyway!)

Inspired to dream up a gay / FBI / serial killer tale of my own, I began writing a short story in which Albert and Fletcher are investigating a nasty crime, and becoming intrigued by each other. The present-day scenes were interspersed with short (italicised!) flashbacks to Albert’s childhood and the death of his beloved parents. These terse bits of backstory became more and more significant to me, and even once I’d finished the story to my satisfaction, my imagination wouldn’t let the characters go. I realised there was more to Albert than one short story.

I started writing another story about another crime investigation, but then – sitting in the car one evening, waiting for Mr B to finish work (I remember it so vividly) – it suddenly occurred to me that there was a whole novel in Albert. And if there was Albert then there also had to be Fletch, his one and only love. And if I was dealing with a forensics expert and an empathic FBI agent then I needed a villain worthy of them.

Albert and Fletch were both bisexual, and I wanted a villain cut from the same cloth. I started reading voraciously about violent crime and serial killers, and soon found John Wayne Gacy. He – or, to be honest, the insidiously charming version played by Brian Dennehy in the film To Catch a Killer (Eric Till, 1992) – provided the starting point for John Garrett. My imagination had to fill in the rest.

To my surprise and disquiet, that proved remarkably easy. To the point of seductive. I am a pacifist who has fits of conscience over causing any kind of hurt. I was a vegetarian at the time – a choice I shared with Albert. And here I was writing about a killer. And I got right into this! I was as engaged with Garrett as with either of my heroes. I sought to understand the definitive John Garrett as well as I might. Writing his chapters was intriguing, despite the fact that I tried to make his victims as likeable and sympathetic and ‘young man next door’ as possible.

Where did that come from? I don’t know, but it was a part of me for a long while – for the two years of writing, and for all the reading, pondering, researching, editing throughout. It was discomforting, but after a while I felt I just had to accept it.

Eventually, however, after a few more years, it was as if I’d got that out of my system. I was no longer so interested. I was no longer so thrilled. I haven’t even watched any of the new Hannibal TV series (Bryan Fuller, 2013-2015). Once, when I was reflecting on that time, I found myself thinking, ‘I’ve done my time in hell.’ And I felt no need to go back.

These days, as some of you will be aware, I write lighter fare, with heroes who are low on angst and high on decency. A friend talks about the BBC series Merlin (The Four Jays, 2008-2012) being her ‘happy place’. I aspire to writing novels that provide happy places for people, somewhere in which to dwell for a while sans souci - akin to Butterfly Hunter’s Dave and Nicholas being safe and happy at their Dreaming waterhole.

I’m proud of what I accomplished with The Definitive Albert J Sterne and its companion volume, however, and I still love Albert in particular. So very much. He’ll always be a part of me! For whatever reason, that novel punched down into deeper layers than anything I’ve published since. Because of that, it may be judged my best work overall – and it may remain so, no matter what I write next. I have to conclude that my time spent with the absolutely unpardonable John Garrett is one reason why.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

New review of BUTTERFLY HUNTER

It's always nice to find that our older titles are still out there making new friends. Judith at Binge on Books has been reading Julie Bozza's BUTTERFLY HUNTER, and on the whole she recommends it!

Things you will love: HOT HOT HOT HOT; character development and personal character growth is well written and satisfying; rugged and exotic Australian Outback setting; did I mention how sexy and hot it is?!

It's fair to say that Judith has her caveats as well, but who are we to argue with 'well written character growth' ... ? We hope that you, too, dear Reader, will find things to love about this novel - if you haven't already!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

New anthology A CERTAIN PERSUASION open for submissions!

We are delighted to announce that we have a new anthology open for submissions.

Our Great War charity anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES has been very happily received, and there has been a call for more of the same - which did not fall on deaf ears. We decided, however, to alternate the war-based anthologies with (perhaps!) somewhat lighter fare.

This time we are visiting the Austenverse with A CERTAIN PERSUASION. We are seeking stories set in and around Jane Austen’s novels and other writings, featuring GLBTQIA people as the main characters. Think Death at Pemberley only more fabulous, or Lost in Austen only queerer.

Please do follow the link to our website if you want to know more!

Friday, 21 August 2015

New review of A PRIDE OF POPPIES

We're delighted to find that our Great War charity anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES is continuing to make good friends. Prism Book Alliance has just posted a thoughtful and supportive review by Feliz.

My favorites were “Lena and the Swan” by Julie Bozza which was just delicious, like a picaresque novel, only with a female protagonist, and “Per Ardua at Astra” by Lou Faulkner because it reminded me so much of my grandpa. ... It’s high-quality writing throughout, not to be consumed as a whole, but best enjoyed one story at a time.

I trust that the other eight authors will forgive me for quoting Feliz's responses to two specific stories, but I felt this perfectly illustrated how many readers respond to this anthology: they find a few or more stories which resonate with them personally, whether due to style or character or a recognition of our fellow human beings. And that is great praise indeed.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

New review of SMOOTHIE

We're pleased to find that our new releases are making friends around the world! Narrelle M Harris enjoyed Jane's SMOOTHIE, the Press's first lesbian romance novel - and she posted a review to her blog Mortal Words.

Heather is great, the supporting cast are mostly huge fun, and Smoothie is a rollicking good adventure of a love story.

A 'rollicking good adventure' sounds about right to us! We also appreciated what Narrelle had to say about how Jane handles Heather's first-person narrative. We hope you, dear Reader, might give Heather and Natalie's story a try as well!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The All Romance App - Celebrate with a 50% Rebate

Our good friends at All Romance are celebrating a new Android App with a 50% rebate! You can't say fairer than that.


 

All Romance Celebrates Release of New Android App with 50% eBook Rebate
 
The All Romance Reader Android App comes with a library pre-loaded with six free ebooks, courtesy of AllRomance.com, the largest and oldest independent seller of Romance eBooks in the world.
 
With the All Romance Reader App for Android, readers can browse sixty categories or focus their search by specifying a particular title, author, series, publisher or keyword. Search returns can then be further sorted by best selling, top rated, recently added, heat level, length, title, or price—including discounted ebooks and freebies. They can also access ARe’s bestseller list, discover what's trending, or peruse picks selected especially for them. Highlander warriors, spaceship captains, pack leaders, vampires, doms, bad boy bikers, billionaires, Navy SEALs… ARe has them all.
 
Those with the App will easily be able to take advantage of special rebates, discounts, sales and promotions. They’ll be able to use the wish list feature to help plan for a nd manage future purchases. Then rate and review the books they’ve already read to help others make selections. “The best part is that we’re celebrating the release by offering a 50% rebate on thousands of titles on Sunday, August 9th (US/Central),” said Lori James, CEO of All Romance. “For the first time our Customers will be able to download and read their purchases using the App's robust reading features, or tap on our nifty gift icon to send it to a friend. And, our multi-format files are easy to share and read across platforms. An iOS version will be coming soon.”
 
Download the All Romance Reader for Android to:
• Browse, buy, and read seamlessly.
• Read EPub, PDF, and Adobe® Content Server protected ebooks on your Android phone or tablet (version 2.3 and higher).
• Side load for use on your Kindle Fire/HD.
• Browse over 130,000 ebooks from more than 9,000 publishers.
• Search by title, author, series name, publisher, keyword, or category—we have sixty.
• Sort search returns by best selling, top rated, recently added, heat level, length, title, or price—including discounted and freebies.
• Discover what's trending.
• Download thousands of free ebooks.
• Access tools to personalize your reading experience by tapping the bottom of the screen while reading. Set bookmarks, highlight, add notes, search the text, or adjust settings such as text size, line spacing, text color and background, orientation, and page turn.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Blog Tour: Liam Livings for WRONG ROOM, RIGHT GUY

Liam Livings is currently on a blog tour promoting his latest novel with Manifold Press, WRONG ROOM, RIGHT GUY. We are delighted by this tale, and I think if you follow Liam through these many fine blogs, you'll soon see why! (And not only that, there are giveaways to win!)
The Press is very grateful for the support of these fine people! Thank you kindly, one and all.

You can find Liam's book at Amazon UK, Amazon US, Smashwords and AllRomance.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Historical Novel Society review of A PRIDE OF POPPIES


Dear Readers, we are absolutely delighted to find that our GLBTQI WWI anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES has been particularly well received by the good people at the Historical Novel Society (HNS).

It's a short review, but every word of it is a gem. It's tempting to quote the whole thing here, but we'll restrain ourselves to the conclusion:

Entertaining, emotional and thought provoking this not only fills a gap in WWI literature, it is also a very moving and stimulating read with plenty of original ideas.

Not only that, but the book has been selected as Editor's Choice, and is long-listed for the HNS Indie Award 2016!


Anyone choosing to give this volume a try will of course not only be putting broad smiles on our faces, but will also be benefiting the military charity the Royal British Legion, to which we are donating all proceeds.

Thank you to Christoph Fischer, Helen Hollick and the HNS for such a thoughtful appraisal!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Two new books released today!

It's the first of August already!  How does that keep on happening with such amazing regularity?!

Casting hysteria aside, once more we're proud to bring you two new books by two of our favourite authors:

In SMOOTHIE by Jane Elliot, the first in what we hope will be a new line of female-female adventures, we meet Heather, not the sort of girl you’d really look at twice, who reveals some unexpected qualities when she’s kidnapped and bundled into a series of high-octane adventures in the Florida Keys at the side of the mysterious - and devastatingly attractive - Natalie;

Over in Liam Livings‘ new title WRONG ROOM, RIGHT GUY we’re introduced to Simon, who’s struggling to be something he isn’t – conventional, boring, and an English teacher – when inside he knows he’s really a writer.  Blundering into the wrong room at his local Village Hall, he ends up with a group of recovering cocaine addicts rather than the creative writing group he was looking for – and that leads on to a whole series of misunderstandings which threaten to undermine the start of what could be a very promising new relationship…

These books both have a delightfully light-hearted quality, without skirting some of the more serious issues they both raise, and they each have leading characters who are flawed and struggling to overcome challenges life has thrown at them.  Watching them deal with their separate troubles will keep you thoroughly entertained and amused!

- - - - -

MANIFOLD PRESS is once again in the throes of moving to a new - and this time, we hope, permanent - home; our delicious year of exile at the sea-side is coming to an end, and we'll shortly be relocating to our new premises in sunny Ellesmere Port.  If we're a little quiet for a while, therefore, we hope you'll understand why; normal service will be resumed as soon as humanly possible!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

AUTHOR GUEST BLOG POST NUMBER EIGHTEEN - Adam Fitzroy

From today, in this semi-regular slot, we're going to be bringing you a series of blog posts by authors looking back at their previously-published titles with MANIFOLD PRESS; we've asked people to write about any subject directly associated with the book in question, so we reckon we can expect a wide variety of responses. Here, to start us off, is Adam Fitzroy with some of the background behind DEAR MISTER PRESIDENT.

- - - - -

DEAR MISTER PRESIDENT by Adam Fitzroy


To start this new series of retrospective blog posts I've been asked to cast my mind back to the first book I ever had accepted by Manifold Press, which was DEAR MISTER PRESIDENT.

I was very lucky in that I knew everyone involved in the founding of Manifold Press, so right back as far as that famous conversation in the café they were already counting on me to submit a book or several whenever I could - and in fact DEAR MISTER PRESIDENT was ready at an early enough stage for it to be the 'guinea pig' book for all the processes and decision-making that followed, which is why it also received the Press's first ISBN. In fact, it was a book which - one way or another - had already been many years in the making.

I'm of an age to have been enchanted by the golden dream of 'Camelot' which heralded the election of John F. Kennedy as President of the United States back in 1960. He was glamorous and charismatic, and - although nowadays his legend is a little tarnished - it was impossible, at the time, not to be swept up in the excitement of it all. I'm not sure how much notice I took of the election itself, but I could definitely tell that the world was changing - a new 'pop group' from Liverpool had started making exciting noises, men were growing their hair long, women were wearing shorter and shorter skirts … everything that was stuffy and old-fashioned and reminiscent of post-war austerity was being swept away in favour of the bright, the loud, and the extremely colourful.

That was the start, for me, of a life-long love-affair with the glamour of the Presidency. In the years since, I'm afraid few of the real-life individuals who have occupied the post have been remotely attractive to me in terms of their looks, their personality or their politics. However there have during the same period been a wonderful array of fictional TV and film 'Presidents' who have often served as vessels for hopes and dreams of what an ideal President might turn out to be. To name but a few, there's Harrison Ford's President Marshall in 'Air Force One' who hot-wires a 747 with a table-knife; Jamie Foxx's President Sawyer in 'White House Down' who gets hands-on and joins in the mêlée when his home is invaded; Kevin Kline's Dave Kovic standing in for President Mitchell in 'Dave'; Bill Pullman's President Whitmore inspiring the troops with his very own Agincourt speech in 'Independence Day'; Morgan Freeman's President Beck in 'Deep Impact' and Presidents Bartlet, Walken and Santos from 'The West Wing' (Martin Sheen, John Goodman and Jimmy Smits respectively) who are all shown as decent men doing difficult jobs in difficult circumstances. (My all-time favourites, I think, are probably former Presidents Kramer and Douglas - Jack Lemmon and James Garner - who go on the road-trip from hell together in 'My Fellow Americans'.)

It's always seemed to me that fiction gives us Presidents we would like to have, men we feel we can rely on to take care of the nuclear launch codes, and at its most basic that was the game I wanted to play; create a fictional President and his world, and find a way of showing that although he may be flawed and dealing with his own personal demons he is still worthy of being entrusted with the safety of the planet. The fact that he would end up falling in love with a man was a given from the start, but it brought with it a couple of fascinating questions; first of all, what sort of individual would be capable of attracting such a man - and secondly, how would the other party react to finding himself the love interest of the most powerful man in the world? The answer, as far as I was concerned anyway, was that he should be capable of seeing the man rather than the title - which presented a further set of challenges of its own.

Watching 'The West Wing' enabled me to absorb a lot of background and ambience; which situations would require the presence of Secret Service/bodyguards, for example, and who would serve the President his coffee? This sort of thing has a long and illustrious pedigree; Martin Sheen, in interviews, reported having to learn how the President goes through a door, and 'The West Wing' is full of such small and unobtrusive details which are at least as interesting as the storylines. I also have a number of books about life at the White House dating back as far as the Truman reconstruction in 1948 which shed a certain amount of light on the way the establishment is organised; so much information is available - albeit in some cases not especially up to date - that it really wasn't necessary to make much up.

The difference between the hereditary concept of royalty and the more immediate but shorter-lived power of the Presidency is also intriguing to me. People of royal blood understand almost from the cradle that they have a certain position in the world and they are brought up to it, with expectations and preparations very carefully aligned. An aspiring politician may have eyes on the White House from a similarly early age but there's never any guarantee he (or she) will get there - and, if they do, their term is limited by law. Unlike being royal, therefore, the Presidency is something that can happen to (virtually!) anyone, and there's a 'before' and an 'after' as well as a 'during', which allows a series of contrasts to be explored. How does anyone prepare for a role involving such massive power and responsibility? How does it change them during their term of office? What are their hopes and ambitions for the remainder of their lives? William Howard Taft, for instance, was President for four years and later Chief Justice for nine; he regarded the latter as the more important post, and used to say that he sometimes forgot he'd ever been President at all. He sounds to me very much like the hero of Kipling's 'If' - capable of meeting with triumph and disaster and treating the two impostors both the same. This is the sort of resilience I would personally be hoping for not only in a President but also in a sane and well-balanced human being, which is what I'd really like to think a President might be!

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

New titles for 1 August announced!

We're a little early announcing our new titles this month but we're not going to have access to the Internet on 1 July so here - a few hours in advance - are the details of the two new books we'll be publishing on 1 August.

We're delighted to welcome back Jane Elliot, one of our most stalwart authors, who in an exciting departure for Manifold Press brings us what we hope will be the first book in a new line of female-female adventures.  In SMOOTHIE we meet Heather, not the sort of girl you'd really look at twice, who reveals some unexpected qualities when she's kidnapped and bundled into a series of high-octane adventures in the Florida Everglades at the side of the mysterious and devastatingly attractive Natalie ...

And over in Liam Livings' new title WRONG ROOM, RIGHT GUY we're introduced to Simon, who's struggling to be something he isn't - conventional, boring, and an English teacher - when inside he knows he's really a writer.  Blundering into the wrong room at his local Village Hall, he ends up with a group of recovering cocaine addicts rather than the creative writing group he was looking for - and that leads on to a whole series of misunderstandings which threaten to undermine the start of what could be a very promising new relationship ...

Both of these books have a light, fresh touch, and they take us on intriguing adventures with characters who are completely out of their depth; join us to see how, in their separate ways, Heather and Simon make sense of the bewildering situations they accidentally find themselves landed in!

Monday, 15 June 2015

TEAM GUEST BLOG NUMBER SEVENTEEN - Heloise Mezen

This month's guest blog comes from Manifold Press team member Heloise Mezen, our resident fact-checker.

Oxford, the Great War - and me ...

It's hard to imagine how different Oxford was one hundred years ago.  For those of us who attended Manifold Press's Queer Company event,the abiding memory of the town - as opposed to the jollity within the walls of the Jam Factory - is probably of road works, crowds and traffic. 

But we are in 1914 now: there is almost no motor traffic, for a start. William Morris has a motorcycle factory in Longwall Street, and has purchased the former Military College in Cowley to use as a car factory; but it has been commandeered for the manufacture of mine-sinkers.  Of the colleges, four - Lady Margaret Hall, Somerville, St Hugh's and St Hilda's - and one Society, the Home Students (later St Anne's College) are for women, but their intake is strictly limited. Women will not be admitted to be full members of the University until 1920 (beating Cambridge by 27 years).  Most of all, by the end of 1914, the university - and town - have been emptied of young men.

Some of those young men are famous now, although they weren't then.  In 1915, J.R.R. Tolkien (Exeter) graduated, and was commissioned into the Lancashire Fusiliers.  C.S. Lewis (University, 1916) had to postpone his studies when he was gazetted into the Somerset Light Infantry.  Robert Graves was on his way to take up a place at St John's when the war broke out; he too joined up, despite being half-German and a pacifist.  Edmund Blunden had been offered a scholarship to Queen's, but went to war instead, not taking up his place until 1919.  T. E. Lawrence, on the other hand, had already graduated from Jesus and in 1914, thanks to an award from Magdalen College, was working for the British Museum at a dig in Carchemish, poised and ready for his war-time activities in the Middle East.  John Buchan (Brasenose, 1895) was commissioned into the intelligence corps, while Balliol graduate Hardit Singh Malik (1912) in 1915 became the first Sikh pilot in the Royal Flying Corps.

The Town had its part to play in the war too: there was a Royal Flying Corps training aerodrome on Port Meadow to the north, where flyers practiced bombing with bags of flour and the grazing cattle had to be moved every morning to clear what passed for the runway.  At the Oxford University Press, May Wedderburn Cannan, daughter of the Press's manager, had trained as a VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) nurse in 1911, and went out to Rouen in 1915; she wrote of her childhood and the war years in Oxford in Grey Ghosts and Voices (1976).   

On the Gown side, many of the university buildings were so empty of young men that they took in guests: the Exam Schools on the High Street housed the 3rd Southern General Hospital; Keble College became the base for an Officer Training Corps; St John's College welcomed Belgian refugees; from 1915 Oriel College, only 10 of whose 133 undergraduates were still in Oxford, housed some of the young women of Somerville College in St Mary's Hall ('Skimmery'). Somerville itself had been taken over as a hospital for officers by the Radcliffe Infirmary next door.  One of those officers, in 1917, was Robert Graves; another was Siegfried Sassoon, recovering from gastric fever, who described his lodgings as 'very much like paradise.' 

Paradise it may have been, but Constance Savery (1897-1999, Somerville 1917) recalled seeing a notice in the dining hall to the effect that "Officers are requested not to throw custard at the walls", while Somerville's most famous Great War alumna, and arguably Oxford's most famous VAD, Vera Brittain, thought that Somerville made a better hospital than it did a college.  By this time, half of Somerville's young women were in 'Skimmery' and the other half in lodgings.  Vera was already planning, as described in her Testament of Youth, to suspend her studies in order to nurse.  (For a recent blog-post on the death of Vera Brittain's brother, see here).

The War cut deep into Oxford: of the 14,792 University men who served, 2,716 died - just over 18%.  At Corpus Christi College, the death rate among the men who served was one in four.  New College had more of its alumni killed in action than any other Oxford college.  After the war, against considerable opposition, the College Warden, Dr Spooner (yes, that Dr Spooner, of the spoonerism), insisted that the college's German dead should have a memorial in the college chapel along with the English dead.  It was the 1920s before the tablet was unveiled, but the German scholars have their memorial too.

New College.jpg

So: there is Oxford, there is the Great War: what about "me"? 

My first recorded connection to Oxford in the Great War begins with Cicely Williams who, in 1916 aged 23, came to Somerville from Jamaica to take up the place that she had deferred for family reasons.  She read medicine, a subject recently opened to women thanks to the dearth of young men available to take the course.  Then, in 1918, the Armistice was signed.  Soldiers and nurses returned from dangers that would have seemed unimaginable four years ago to a regime where the men were expected to be in college before the ten past nine curfew, and the women were chaperoned on every possible occasion.  In Skimmery, only a wall separated the Somerville women from the returned and exuberant Oriel men.

The Somerville log-book records that "On the night of Thursday June 19th 1919 certain members of Oriel JCR expressed their desire to return to S Mary Hall in a somewhat unusual but practical manner. After prolonged bombardment on the intervening wall a breach was effected through which several undergraduates jumped into the quad."  Somerville’s Principal, Emily Penrose, arrived on the scene promptly; after consultation with the Provost of Oriel, Somerville’s Senior Common Room agreed to "guard the hole throughout the night" in hour-long shifts.  One of the students who flanked Miss Penrose in her chair was Cicely Williams.  I know this, because, when I met her in 1982, Cicely told me herself (she was a remarkable woman who lived to be 98, no mean achievement considering two-and-a-half years of captivity in Changi Gaol).

I met Cicely because we were fellow-alumnae of Somerville, although I matriculated some sixty-four years after she did.  Somerville has been digitising its archive, and among the photographs and papers is this one. 


By kind permission of the Principal and Fellows of Somerville College

The College lawn looks more overgrown, and West Building considerably more ivy-covered, than it did in my day; but the nurse on the far left is quite clearly resting her hand on the windowsill of what, for three years, was my room.  It is oddly unsettling to look at this picture and remember myself on the other side of that open window; as if I were being haunted in reverse.  History lies deep as time at Oxford, and sometimes taps on the glass.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

New review of A PRIDE OF POPPIES

As A PRIDE OF POPPIES finds it way out into the wider community the reviews are coming thick and fast - and sometimes from review websites we hadn't previously been aware of.

For example, there's a very fine response from a reviewer named Astilbe over at Long and Short Reviews, which singles out some of the stories for individual praise and ends with these words:

A Pride of Poppies: Modern GLBTQI Fiction of the Great War is a beautiful collection that I’d recommend to anyone who has even the slightest interest in World War I or GLBTQI fiction.

Also, although it's not a formal review in quite the same way, we're especially proud of a wonderfully detailed appraisal on Goodreads by author Bryn Hammond who gives it five stars:

It’s hard to rate anthologies: you’d never give five stars if it has to be for every story, and that isn’t fair on anthologies; I think my five means, this is an outstandingly strong collection.

Thank you to both Astilbe and Bryn for taking the time to express their opinions of our work; we really appreciate it and are grateful to you both for helping to spread the word!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

New review of BUTTERFLY HUNTER

Delightfully, Julie's BUTTERFLY HUNTER is still making new friends out there in the big bad world. This time it's come to the attention of the Joyfully Jay review site and has been featured in an unusual review for their 'Throwback Thursday' blog - we presume on Thursday 21 May.

Dave must teach Nicholas everything he knows about how to survive in the Outback as the search takes them through uncharted territory as the butterflies remain elusive. The men work well together and Nicholas makes it known that he is attracted to Dave. Dave cannot wrap his head around what he feels for Nicholas as the sight of the man’s many smiles and long pale fingers calls to him. Just as a butterfly transforms and changes, so will Dave as Nicholas becomes a need for him that he cannot live without.

On the whole, it sounds as if the book wasn't the perfect fit for reviewer Michelle, but she has some very nice things to say about it nonetheless; maybe we can find something that suits her better next time!

Monday, 25 May 2015

New review of A PRIDE OF POPPIES

Over at Sinfully (formerly Sinfully Sexy) our friends Mark and Sally have joined forces to review our new anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES - which they've done by reviewing and rating each story individually, the average being a fraction less than four stars out of five. In addition, they've made some lovely and perceptive comments about the separate stories, and if we quoted one we'd have to quote them all; suffice to say that they've absolutely done us proud, and in particular have likened the book to 'a box of chocolates' which as chocoholics ourselves we're definitely going to take as a compliment.

Thank you, Mark and Sally, we're thrilled to know that you had such a high opinion of our work!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Special offer: UNSPOKEN by R.A. Padmos

For the next few days we're running a special offer on R.A. Padmos's acclaimed World War II title UNSPOKEN, the tale of Stefan and Adri and their individual struggles in the unforgiving climate of Nazi-occupied Europe.

"Stefan and Adri’s love is heartbreaking, without chance and often tragic. But it’s a story that many should read, cause beyond the bittersweetness, you could taste also the authenticity and strength of it."

Review by Elisa Rolle 6 January 2014

UNSPOKEN will be available from now until the end of the month at the bargain price of $2.99, so this would be a great opportunity to grab it while it's hot!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

New review of THE PEACOCK'S EYE

In a 'Recent Release Review' over on Love Bytes, reviewer Vicki has given us her response to Jay Lewis Taylor's new title THE PEACOCK'S EYE:

Wow… What a beautiful book! Slow and gentle.

I really want to say this isn’t a romance novel, it certainly doesn’t follow the traditional pattern of boy meets boy, stuff happens, they fall in love and spend the whole book together, until at the end they live happily ever after. But it kinda does follow that pattern, just in a really round about way.


We love this comment! Jay's story is definitely one in which the journey matters just as much as, if not more than, the destination; the rich detail of the characters' lives is what keeps us enthralled along the way!

Thank you, Vicki, and we're really glad you liked the book!

Monday, 4 May 2015

New review of THE APOTHECARY'S GARDEN

Quite out of the blue, a new review of Julie's book has appeared over on Narelle Harris's book blog ADVENTUROUS HEARTS - penned by feisty guest reviewer Minion Beck.

"I usually read a book of this size in a few hours, but I didn’t want it to end and managed to drag the experience out over 4 days. This story of unconventional love is whimsical and almost magical in its purity. I cried, not because of the ending, but because it ended."

And if that wasn't sufficient evidence of enthusiasm, the review ends with these words:

"Julie Bozza has become an author I will automatically buy and be warned, dis her, or this book, and I may just frighten you with my response.

In summary … Just wonderful and highly recommended."


That's quite a powerful endorsement; thank you, both Minion Beck and Narelle Harris, for your enthusiasm and support!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Historical novelist Elin Gregory is a lovely person and a very good friend of the Press - the latest instance of which is that she interviewed the authors of A PRIDE OF POPPIES, and posted the results to her blog over the past couple of weeks.

If you'd like to drop by Elin's blog, you'll find out about our authors' inspiration, and about what else they're working on now.

In reverse alpha, because I'm embarrassed about always coming first:
And please do share the love with Elin! She deserves every little bit of it, and every big bit, too.

Friday, 1 May 2015

New review of A PRIDE OF POPPIES

A lovely, enthusiastic review of our beloved anthology has been posted by Narelle Harris on her blog Adventurous Hearts. After some very warm and encouraging comments about individual stories - which we certainly agree with! - Narelle finishes her review with these words:

"The authors and publishing house all donated their efforts to this book, and a minimum of 60% of the proceeds are being donated to the Royal British Legion, which runs the UK’s Poppy Appeal. But don’t buy this wonderful anthology for that reason. Buy it because it’s a damned fine read which will break your heart, fill it with hope and remind you that love will find a way to grow, even under the harshest conditions."

Thank you, Narelle - we're thrilled that you liked it so much, and we really appreciate your recommendation!

Hooray, hooray, it's the First of May!

It's the day we've been looking forward to and working towards for such a long time - release day for our two new titles.

A PRIDE OF POPPIES is our long-awaited anthology of modern GLBTQI fiction of the Great War, all the proceeds of which will be donated to The Royal British Legion to assist in their excellent work with returned service people. Ten authors have contributed to this project, and our editor Julie has worked tirelessly to bring the project to fruition; we're (we believe justifiably!) extremely proud of the finished result, and we're absolutely sure you're going to love it!

Alongside that, we are delighted to be bringing you another standout historical novel from Jay Lewis Taylor: THE PEACOCK'S EYE is a love story with a richly detailed background of the Elizabethan theatre and the complex political climate of a time in which nothing could ever truly be considered safe or certain. In such a world, trust will always be elusive - and love, perhaps, even more so. This is definitely a book to lose yourself in, and forget about the twenty-first century for a while!

We're looking forward enormously to meeting those of you who are going to be joining us at our Queer Company event in Oxford next weekend. If anyone is still undecided, there are a few places left and just enough time to secure them - but registrations must close on Sunday 3 May - so register now, and don't miss out on this 'small but beautifully formed' gathering for readers and writers in the Quiltbag genre!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Queer Company: the programme

We are exceedingly happy to announce the programme for our Queer Company event!

Please note that, due to the inexorability of Murphy’s Law, this programme was posted and then amended within 24 hours, but we trust this is about the shape of it now!

This one-day event will run from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. on Saturday 9 May 2015. Please note that the doors of The Jam Factory will (literally!) open at 10.00 am.

The awesome Liam Livings will be our MC for the day!

Session 1: Clichés and how to avoid them
Liam Livings will be chairing this panel, ably supported by panellists KJ Charles, Morgan Cheshire and Heloise Mezen.

Book Launch: A Pride of Poppies
Charlie Cochrane, who wrote an utterly charming story for the anthology, will officially launch the volume.

Session 2: Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray: The First Gay Novel?
Our special guest speaker Iarla Manny will talk about this fascinating subject! Our genre has a few points of origin, I imagine, and Dorian Gray must be one of them.

Q&A: A Pride of Poppies
After lunch, Morgan Cheshire will chair this quick Q&A featuring Poppies authors Julie Bozza, Charlie Cochrane and Eleanor Musgrove.

Session 3: Sex scenes – how necessary are they?
Julie Bozza will chair this panel, with panellists Bruin Fisher, Fiona Pickles and Chris Quinton.

Session 4: A Duty of Care to our Characters
Our keynote speaker Charlie Cochrane will conclude the day on a lovely note with this thoughtful topic.

For more details, please visit the Programme page on the event website.

I hope you're all looking forward to it as much as we are! Huzzah!

ETA: Importantly, please note that registrations will close on Sunday 3 May, or sooner if we fill up. That gives us a week!

Monday, 20 April 2015

New review of A PRIDE OF POPPIES

One of the very best aspects of this anthology is the way it's making so many new friends out there in the blogosphere; we're delighted to have been favourably reviewed by blogger Amos Lassen, who considers each story individually and in some detail (whilst at the same time gallantly refraining from spoiling the endings) and concludes with these words:

"This is an anthology in which every story is an excellent read and a look at an age that none of us experienced personally."

Thank you, Amos; it's a great pleasure to make your acquaintance, and we're very glad you enjoyed the book so much!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

AUTHOR GUEST BLOG NUMBER SIXTEEN - Morgan Cheshire

You may remember that towards the end of last year a guest blog post had to be postponed due to unforeseen circumstances. The reasons for this should be apparent from Morgan Cheshire's much-delayed post below; family illness and a rather abrupt house-move. We're glad to hear that things are settling down a bit for Morgan now, and we're delighted to report that she's working away steadily on a new book which we hope to publish in 2016!

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A ROOM OF ONE'S OWN


“A Woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction,” said Virginia Woolf.

I have never managed an independent income but I have usually had a room of my own - but, alas, no more; I am thrown back on managing like everyone else and writing as and where I can. Luckily I am not one of those people who require absolute silence to be able to write so my venues have been many and varied, and I write my first draft in longhand which makes life simple with regard to equipment.

As a child I wrote in my bedroom – poetry, which actually got published in the local paper on the children’s page! I wrote extra scenes for characters I liked in books – I am still in love with Alan Breck Stewart from Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. Recently I went on holiday with my editor and her other half, and it was quite a pilgrimage as we visited sites connected with Alan; the old bridge at Stirling, the crossing at Queensferry (although he and David used a boat, not a bridge) and, best of all, the site where James of the Glens died – I had tried for more than thirty years ago to find the site but the people I was with then were not as accommodating as my editor and her other half, bless them.

Later, my bedroom also saw me writing scenes for characters from various television series: The Avengers (before the girls arrived to divert Steed’s attention from his doctor partner), Wagon Train, and best of all Z Cars … my friend and I wrote this in her bedroom as well, when I went to stay the night.

As well as my own scenes I also, in this time before VHS, wrote out whole episodes of programmes like The Big Valley and Star Trek, which was fantastic practice for capturing dialogue. I was married by this time and my 21st birthday present had been a typewriter.

In my twenties I was definitely an owl. My husband worked nights and I would stay up until two in the morning to write and re-write – try doing that now!

With husband at work during the day and children in school I could write at a more civilised hour, and that lasted for a long time. As they do, the children grew up and left home - but then I had my mother to look after, and the writing got squeezed. It got squeezed even more when my husband retired; however he was very good at entertaining himself, so I would go out to write. I would arrive at our local ASDA store very early, fortify myself with coffee and toast, and settle down to work for an hour or so before my daughter arrived and we had breakfast together before doing the shopping. I liked working in ASDA; the background of other people talking and the loudspeaker announcements did not bother me at all.

I also used to write in the library – not so unusual, but the café there had closed so I used to take coffee and sandwiches. Oddly, it was more distracting than ASDA; because it was generally quiet, any noise stood out - like the woman and her daughter watching YouTube, which was obviously hilarious from the noise they were making. One-on-one teaching also took place there, and the conversations were audible several yards away.

Visiting Yorkshire, with a deadline for a Christmas present, I abandoned my hostess for an hour every day and wrote in the complete silence of her sitting room – but I also like music when I write, and I find that certain composers or singers attach themselves to a piece of work and that is all I listen to; while on a writing holiday at a farmhouse in Wales it was Elgar, and at other times it has been the Moody Blues - you just never know what it’s going to be.

Things have changed again recently; my husband has been ill and we've moved in with my daughter, her husband, and two children (aged 5 and 10). There is no problem with the dynamics of the family - she didn't leave home until she was thirty-five, and as a child we lived with my grandmother, so the extended family was nothing new. However, because my husband needs constant care and monitoring I can no longer go to ASDA or the library to work, and finding a suitable time has been difficult because there have been so many other things to do.

Now life has settled down into more of a routine, and I am finding where the gaps are when I can settle down and write - but I can see that the school holidays will definitely not be suitable! One unexpected place is the Cottage Hospital where we go for neuro physio – while my other half is having treatment I take myself off to the coffee shop and write there for just under an hour.

I vividly remember an occasion when I had just been made redundant from my office job. (My boss was becoming a partner in another firm of solicitors and could not take me with him; the other secretary had been there longer than me and she went with him.) This was also the time when a friend and I were absolutely besotted with the film Black Rain - Michael Douglas was the star, but we were fascinated by the characters portrayed by Ken Takakura and Andy Garcia. Being out of work I was free to go away for the weekend to a friend in Sunderland – and that was where inspiration struck; I wrote solidly that weekend whenever I had a free moment. I also wrote on the train going home – I had a job interview at Tesco so I went there straight from the train – and wrote while I was waiting for my appointment. I was so engrossed that, having unsuccessfully called my name, one of the supervisors had to come and get me … but nevertheless I did get the job!

It would be nice to have Virginia Woolf’s private room and independent income, but it is not absolutely necessary - at least not for me!