QUEER COMPANY 3 – Christmas Special!

For the Twelve Days of Christmas only (i.e., from 26 December to 6 January), we are reverting to our Early Bird registration rate of £50.00. (Should we call this a Recent Robin rate? A Late Turkey rate?) Full details are available here!

We have also added to the event website some information about Manchester’s Gay Village, which will be right on our doorstep, and which may help to persuade some of you who have yet to make up your minds!

There are still plenty of places available at QUEER COMPANY 3, but after 6 January the registration rate will increase again – so if you would like to grab a place at the discounted rate now would be a very good moment to do so.

We look forward very much to seeing you all in Manchester at the end of April!

Our Famous ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ Giveaway Strikes Back!

Dear Readers

Once again, we’re delighted to be marking the festive season with a giveaway of titles from our back catalogue.  From 26 December to 6 January we’ll be giving away one free ebook per day, with the draws being made as close as possible to 12.00 midday UK time daily from Wednesday 27 December on.

The draws will be made using random.org, and the requested book emailed to the lucky recipient usually within twenty-four hours.  If you win once, please feel free to enter again – although two wins will disqualify you thereafter!

To enter, click here for the Book Giveaways form. This opens in a new window or tab. You’ll be asked for your first name (or whichever name you’d like to use), an email address, which title you’d like, and in which format. All these fields must be completed before clicking the Submit button.

Only Manifold Press admins will be able to see the details you enter on the form. However, please be aware that we’ll share the winner’s name and choice of title when we announce the result the following day – so, if you’d prefer to be anonymous, please indicate that in the name field of the form.

Also please note that comments made on this post are not screened other than via the usual WordPress security. All comments on this post will in effect be public.

All our current titles are available for the giveaway, but only in electronic formats.

So, this is a good opportunity to sit back, relax, and browse our titles; experiment with the work of a new author, or complete the backlist of a favourite – the choice is yours!

Good luck, and the compliments of the season to you all!

* * * * *

We’d also like to remind everyone (especially those like our editor-in-chief who rarely win anything in draws or raffles!) that all our titles with the exception of our two charity anthologies are featured in the current Smashwords sale which lasts until 1 January.  If you’re not feeling lucky, and aren’t keen on rolling the dice, head on over to our Smashwords catalogue where you’ll be sure of a result every time!

Some books just happen

A guest blog post by Adam Fitzroy

THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER WYE happened all by itself, over a very short period in 2013. As has occasionally been the case with Manifold Press, our editors found they had a vacant publishing slot for February when another project was delayed, and asked around for anything that might be completed quickly enough to take its place. I’d been floundering for a while, trying to decide between competing story ideas, but this gave me the impetus I needed to get off my backside; I had a piece of fan-fiction ripe for redevelopment, and I pulled it down off the shelf and took a fresh look at it.

I’m not remotely embarrassed to admit that this particular book was originally fan-fiction, and the reason is this: as soon as I started to rewrite it, it completely took on a life of its own. In fact, it’s so very different that the original story is actually still online somewhere – and I defy anyone to come up with the name of the TV show it was based on. (Entertaining guesses will be welcomed!)

What happened after that is all a bit of a blur. The basic plot featured a character stepping in to take over the farm of a brother who’d died in mysterious circumstances, inheriting responsibility for his brother’s family (and debts) at the same time. He would then meet up with an old flame/passing love interest, and they’d rekindle their relationship while working for a shared objective. This, basically, is all the book has in common with its fan-fictional progenitor! Anyway, the fact that I’d been watching rather too many cooking shows on TV guaranteed that there would be a chef or chefs involved somehow, and historical research I’d done for another project gave me a location – not a million miles from the setting for MAKE DO AND MEND, as it happens. If you ever look at a map of the River Wye, you’ll see that there’s a large lazy bend in it with the villages of Welsh Bicknor and English Bicknor on opposite sides. There are, too, several derelict bridges along that stretch that used to carry railway lines but have been allowed to decay for a hundred years or more – they’re quite spectacular, but probably very dangerous to cross.

Also, when I was writing the book, gangmasters and illegal immigrants were much in the news; one company was revealed to be housing migrant workers in a ‘temporary village’ in its fields – a situation which only became apparent when they applied for planning permission to build them a cinema. Friction between a small, independent organic farmer – with good intentions but little money – and a large dominant agri-business with massive resources but questionable ethics, made for a good conflict scenario, which becomes more powerful still if the large dominant agri-business happens to be boosting its profits by employing undocumented workers and housing them in sub-standard conditions. So, in essence, what I ended up with was David versus Goliath – with a side order of organic mange-tout!

Fleshing out the minor characters was one of the most enjoyable parts of the process. They always start off as people needed for a specific purpose – to deliver a piece of information, or to be knocked out (or off!) so that someone has to take their place – but the moment you start thinking about who they are and why they’re in the place you need them to be they begin to grow all by themselves. One such was Sharon, the police officer who guides the characters through the latter part of the story. I’d been on a bus once when an unruly passenger started acting up – and, after a few minutes of suffering in silence, the (stunningly-dressed – I think she was on her way to a wedding) woman in the seat in front of me got up, leaned over, quietly produced her warrant card and said, in effect, “Look, I’m off duty at the moment but it would only take one phone call. Shut up, or get arrested.” He chose to shut up.

I have no idea who the woman was, but she stayed in my mind – largely because I would never have looked at her in her finery and thought ‘police officer’. She stepped out of her civilian life just for a moment, did her job, and then stepped back. That intrigued me, and Sharon was the result; she doesn’t actually look like a copper at all, and she’s all the more effective for that reason.

I had a lot of fun, too, writing Rupert’s friends Gary and Steve. (Minuscule clue there to the series of origin!) Believe me, I researched their apartment very thoroughly; I’ve seen the view from their balcony and it’s wonderful. I’ve also stayed at the hotel where Jake and Rupert had their rudely interrupted night of passion – and yes, you can hire a car at Victoria in the middle of the night, but I bet it costs a small fortune!

So I think what I’m trying to say is that this was a book that – as Rumer Godden apparently used to say – was ‘vouchsafed’. It dropped into my lap almost fully-formed, precisely when I needed it, and I wrote it very quickly to fill a need. Everything clicked into place smoothly, and it was one of the most enjoyable writing experiences I’ve ever had. I wish more books would ‘happen’ like that, but I mustn’t be greedy; I’m just grateful that THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER WYE* came along at all, and particularly just when it did!

*PS: I can take no credit for the title. I stole it, as I should have made clear in the book itself, from an episode of the short-lived (but absolutely excellent) TV series Extreme Archaeology.

New review of SPRING FLOWERING

Reviewers are still enjoying Farah Mendlesohn’s debut novel SPRING FLOWERING, with the most recent comments being from respected author, editor and academic Ali Williams on her own blog.

“This is a novel that highlights how female friendship in the Regency era provided opportunity for closeness, and gives our heroine an independent happy ever after with her perfect woman, untinged with sorrow or familial disapproval. Gorgeous.”

Thank you, Ali, we couldn’t have put it better ourselves, and – as the Northern Hemisphere winter gets its icy teeth into us – we’re grateful for the reminder that Spring itself exists: so, if you’re in need of something to brighten up your long dark evenings, you may find that SPRING FLOWERING could very well be it!

Santa Baby, slip a paperback (or two) under the tree…

Life having slightly got the better of us here at Manifold Press lately, we’ve unfortunately missed a couple of opportunities to bring new paperback editions of some of our titles to your attention. Today, however, with the launch of the paperback version of Morgan Cheshire’s A TIME TO KEEP, we have an opportunity to put that right. So, out with your time-turner (or, if you prefer, hop into your blue Police box) and let’s take a brief trip back to May 2016!

 

Adam Fitzroy’s THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER WYE sneaked out in paperback a good eighteen months ago, and we completely forgot to mention it at the time! It’s the modest little tale of an organic farmer, the obligations he’s inherited from his dead brother, and the return of a long-lost friend who seems determined to share his burden. Join Rupert, Jake, and their assorted family and friends as they investigate a series of mysterious occurrences on an isolated Welsh land-holding, and juggle with the demands of an irascible TV chef!

 

F.M. Parkinson’s THE WALLED GARDEN is really too well-mannered a book to make a great fuss about itself, but for those who enjoy Dickens, Mrs Gaskell, the Brontes and other authors of the period who tell a story slowly and with masses of corroborative detail the new paperback version will be a welcome addition to their library. When William Ashton is employed as Edward Hillier’s gardener he is attracted to his master but – in an unforgiving social climate – love is slow to blossom, albeit lasting when it does.

 

Morgan Cheshire’s A TIME TO KEEP is another of her trademark gentle love stories, this time taking place in the years immediately surrounding the First World War. Two workhouse boys in love, Ben and Matthew, make their tentative way in the world, determined only to stay together. Ben secures employment on a farm, Matthew becomes an assistant lock-keeper on a busy canal. When war comes, however, their hopes are crushed, and Matthew must continue alone – until, that is, the providential arrival of a stranger gives him something new to hope for.

 

We love all three of these books, and we’re delighted to see them in paperback form; there’s loads of good reading here for the long winter evenings, and they’re just the thing to slip into someone’s Christmas stocking … or, indeed, your own!

New review of THE BONES OF OUR FATHERS

Lindsey at The Novel Approach has recently been reading Elin Gregory’s delightful THE BONES OF OUR FATHERS, and has come up with a highly favourable review which begins with these words:

“I enjoy books which take place in small towns where everyone knows everyone and is all up in each other business, and Bones of our Fathers definitely delivers that with all kinds of shenanigans and a variety of interesting characters with the charm I have come to expect in stories with this particular setting”

and ends with these:

“If you love fully fleshed out, character driven stories set in small town, complete with cute banter, sweet MCs, and an interesting backstory, give this one a shot.”

Really, what more could we ask? Thank you, Lindsey, we’re very glad you enjoyed the book!

New review of CALL TO ARMS

In fact this is the very first review of our new anthology CALL TO ARMS – and it’s not a bad way to start! Our good friend Kazza K at On Top Down Under Reviews has posted a hugely enthusiastic review which examines the merits of each individual story – no small task, as there are seventeen of them! – and sums up with these resounding words:

“I really do love a good short story. If you can tell me a heartfelt tale in a limited word count I am in total awe, and that mission was well and truly accomplished. I also want to give mention to Heloise Mezen for meticulously compiling the anthology. I can’t recommend Call to Arms highly enough. 5 Stars!”

In return, we can say that we love a detailed review which lets us know when a book has met an appreciative reader: thank you, Kazza, we’re grateful for all the time and thought that went into your review – and very glad indeed that you enjoyed CALL TO ARMS so much!

New review of CALON LAN

Elin Gregory’s delightful Espresso Shot CALON LAN is making friends already. Over at On Top Under Book Reviews reviewer Kazza K has been particularly enthusiastic, awarding the book five stars and commenting – among other remarks in a supportive review –

I love short stories when they deliver so much in so few words. This novella may be shorter on page count but it’s huge on heart and vivid storytelling. The characters were all three dimensional thanks to Bethan’s patient, kind, and loving eyes. Thanks to the author’s skill. I can imagine both Alwyn and Joe before the war and I just knew how they were feeling when they could be together again.

You’re absolutely right, Kazza; CALON LAN packs a lot of great storytelling into quite a small number of pages, and we’re truly proud of it! Thank you for your time and your comments.

New review of SPRING FLOWERING

A delightful first review has emerged of Farah Mendlesohn’s debut novel SPRING FLOWERING, by author Heather Rose Jones on her own blog, Alpennia.

An informed and thoughtful evaluation of the book concludes with these wonderful words:

If you’ve longed to read stories of women loving women in history with happy endings that ground their love and their happiness in the spirit of the times, then Spring Flowering will be a breath of fresh air and a hope for a new wave of lesbian historical fiction.

That’s a powerful recommendation, which we can only echo wholeheartedly; thank you, Heather, for your time and for your eloquent endorsement!

New review of COINS NOT ACCEPTED

Reviews continue to read us in random order, including this response of 12 September by reviewer Michael Joseph to Chris Quinton’s intriguing novel COINS NOT ACCEPTED. The reviewer loved the set-up and world-building, and concluded with this paragraph:

Allan, Miles’ childhood friend, is our main conduit for information about the parallel world. His story comes out little by little but in the end his history is, sadly, not that different from what some young men still go through in this world.

We love Chris’s world-building and her characters, too, and we feel that if ever a book was ripe for a sequel it’s this one; thank you, Michael, for your time and your good opinion!