The “Coffee House” eBook Giveaway – The Last Day

MP Coffee House Blog giveaway

Yesterday was the last day of our seven day eBook Giveaway. We now have the results for Day Seven: Random.org has drawn Dianna’s name out of the virtual hat. Dianna chose a copy of WRONG ROOM, RIGHT GUY by Liam Livings – which is already heading your way, Dianna!

Thank you to everyone who has visited our new blog, commented on the various posts, and taken part in the giveaway. We hope the winners enjoy their books!

Do visit again, whenever you can. We have more news being announced throughout March, and of course our new titles on 1 April.

Launching our new strapline!

When Manifold Press first opened for business back in 2010, we called for submissions of same-sex stories, thinking that we’d receive plenty of lesbian romances in the mix. Overwhelmingly, however, our submissions were male-male romances or gay fiction – and we eventually decided to make it clear that’s where our focus was, rather than risk readers riffling hopefully through our backlist to no avail.

There has been an organic shift over the past couple of years, however. As editor of our WWI charity anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES, I opened it up to stories featuring characters across the full spectrum – and that’s what I received, too, though there is a weighting towards stories about gay men. We have since published Jane Elliot’s terrifically fun novel SMOOTHIE, which features a romance between two women. Other novels began naturally including minor characters from other hues of the spectrum – and, in any case, a fair number of our main characters could more properly be called bisexual rather than gay.

This is certainly a direction in which we want the Press to keep moving. While it’s true enough that male-male romance and gay fiction are still the most popular stories, and will probably remain a significant part of our offerings, we want to open up the Press to representing the full LGBTQIA spectrum of characters. It seems only good, right and proper to do so.

Hence our new strapline:

Life in all the colours of the rainbow

We chose the word ‘life’ rather than ‘love’ because we have always focussed on characters and story, and we don’t see that ever changing.

We’ll also continue to ‘strive for excellence’ in all that we do – and so that aspect of our old strapline isn’t being retired. It lives on as our internal mission statement.

Thank you to the authors, friends and readers who’ve been an essential part of our journey thus far! We certainly hope you’ll continue on with us into a brightly hued future.

The “Coffee House” eBook Giveaway – Day Seven

MP Coffee House Blog giveaway

Welcome to the seventh and last day of our eBook Giveaway!

To celebrate our new blog, we’ve been giving away one free book per day, for the first seven days of March. The draws have been made as close as possible to 10.00 am UK time, starting on Wednesday 2 March.

We have the results for Day Six! Random.org has drawn Helena’s name out of the virtual hat. Helena chose a copy of THE PEACOCK’S EYE by Jay Lewis Taylor – which is already heading your way, Helena!

To enter the last day of this giveaway, click here for the Book Giveaways form. This will open in a new window or tab. You’ll be asked for your first name, an email address, which title you’d like, and in which format. All these fields must be completed before clicking the Submit button.

No one but we admin peeps will be able to see any of the details you enter via the form. Please note, however, that any 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.

If you are successful once, please feel free to enter again. You can win twice before being disqualified for the rest of the giveaway. This means that Andrea and Helena can enter again, but Chris and Jen, alas, cannot.

So, pour yourself a beverage of your choice and browse our titles. You might like to experiment with the work of a new author, or complete the backlist of a favourite.

Good luck and best wishes to everyone who takes part!

The “Coffee House” eBook Giveaway – Day Six

MP Coffee House Blog giveaway

To celebrate our new blog, we’re giving away one free book per day, for the first seven days of March. The draws will be made as close as possible to 10.00 am UK time, starting on Wednesday 2 March.

And we have the results for Day Five! Just to prove that lightning does indeed strike twice … er, twice, Random.org has drawn Jen’s name out of the virtual hat. This time, Jen chose a copy of SOLEMN CONTRACT by the lovely Morgan Cheshire – which will be heading your way shortly, Jen!

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

No one but we admin peeps will be able to see any of the details you enter via the form. Please note, however, that any 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.

If you are successful once, please feel free to enter again. You can win twice before being disqualified for the rest of the giveaway. This means that Andrea can enter again, but Chris and Jen, alas, cannot.

So, pour yourself a beverage of your choice and browse our titles. You might like to experiment with the work of a new author, or complete the backlist of a favourite.

Good luck and best wishes to everyone who takes part!

The “Coffee House” eBook Giveaway – Day Five

MP Coffee House Blog giveaway

To celebrate our new blog, we’re giving away one free book per day, for the first seven days of March. The draws will be made as close as possible to 10.00 am UK time, starting on Wednesday 2 March.

And we have the results for Day Four! Random.org has once more drawn Chris’s name out of the virtual hat. This time, Chris chose a copy of THE PEACOCK’S EYE by historical novelist Jay Lewis Taylor – which will be heading your way shortly, Chris!

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

No one but we admin peeps will be able to see any of the details you enter via the form. Please note, however, that any 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.

If you are successful once, please feel free to enter again. You can win twice before being disqualified for the rest of the giveaway. This means that Andrea and Jen can enter again, but Chris, alas, cannot.

So, pour yourself a beverage of your choice and browse our titles. You might like to experiment with the work of a new author, or complete the backlist of a favourite.

Good luck and best wishes to everyone who takes part!

The “Coffee House” eBook Giveaway – Day Four

MP Coffee House Blog giveaway

To celebrate our new blog, we’re giving away one free book per day, for the first seven days of March. The draws will be made as close as possible to 10.00 am UK time, starting on Wednesday 2 March.

And we have the results for Day Three! Chris‘s name was chosen via random.org. Chris chose a copy of MAKE DO AND MEND by the ever popular Adam Fitzroy – which will be heading your way shortly, Chris!

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

No one but we admin peeps will be able to see any of the details you enter via the form. Please note, however, that any 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.

If you are successful once, please feel free to enter again. That includes Andrea, Chris and Jen! You can win twice before being disqualified for the rest of the giveaway.

So, pour yourself a beverage of your choice and browse our titles. You might like to experiment with the work of a new author, or complete the backlist of a favourite.

Good luck and best wishes to everyone who takes part!

AUTHOR GUEST BLOG NUMBER TWENTY FOUR – Julie Bozza

Jane Austen and illicit sex

Did that heading grab you? I think it would have grabbed me if I’d stumbled upon it unexpectedly. But I’ve been pondering a notion this past day or two, and would like to run it out for a bit of air.

Let me take a step back, and mention that I’m currently re-reading all of Jane Austen’s works, from the Juvenilia through to Sanditon – though not in that order – as preparation for editing and writing for the next Manifold Press anthology, A CERTAIN PERSUASION. (By the way, the deadline for submissions is 1 May, which gives you another two months to write something for us. Just as well, as I haven’t even started my story yet!)

Anyway! So here I am re-reading my beloved Austen novels. They are all thirty or thirty-five years old; Penguin paperbacks which are quite literally falling apart. But I guess I’ve never re-read them all within a short period before. And something struck me on Monday, as I finished Persuasion

“He [Mr Elliot] soon quitted Bath; and on Mrs Clay’s quitting it likewise soon afterwards, and being next heard of as established under his protection in London, it was evident how double a game he had been playing …”

Mrs Clay, the lower-class widow with designs on Sir Walter Elliot, ends up instead as mistress of Sir Walter’s heir – and Austen leaves us with the most generous thing she has said yet about Mrs Clay:

“She has abilities, however, as well as affections; and it is now a doubtful point whether his cunning, or hers, may finally carry the day …”

Mrs Clay has abilities, affections and cunning, and may well end up the wife of a baronet! And this is all reported in Austen’s light, deft prose. In fact, to me she sounds quite non-judgemental about it all. Though we may draw the conclusion that the cunning Mr Elliot and Mrs Clay deserve each other.

However, I feel that Sir Walter himself and his eldest daughter Elizabeth are left to a worse fate. They are shocked and mortified by the loss and deception of their friend and, I assume, Mr Elliot. They are left to “flatter and follow … their great cousins”, the Dalrymples, but “without being flattered and followed in turn”. How utterly barren a future!

We know that in Jane Austen’s novels, any woman who engages in pre-marital or extra-marital sex loses her reputation and can no longer be part of ‘society’. None of her main characters even consider taking such a step, despite feeling great love and the exciting kind of passion that can only be expressed in full-on blushes.

As a result, I think there is a tendency to generally dismiss Austen herself as a very prim, proper and virginal spinster – when anyone putting much thought into it must surely conclude that there was a whole lot more to her than that.

Yes, she was interested in exploring the fact that in her times a gentleman’s daughter, unless in a rare case of being independently wealthy, must marry in order to live according to her place in society. And she knew very well that a couple could not marry on love alone. But beyond that, she was interested in the kind of love and companionship that made for a good marriage with long-lasting affection. Her main characters manage to find it all. Others are less lucky.

But it struck me that in almost all the novels, a woman ‘falls’ – and in only one is she judged harshly for it.

The latter example can be found in Mansfield Park. Mrs Rushworth (formerly Maria Bertram) elopes with Henry Crawford, and when discarded by him is left to a lonely social exile in the company of the horrible Mrs Norris. I suspect Maria’s harsh fate is more about the fact that she married the dim but decent Mr Rushworth despite knowing very well that she despised him, and that she strongly desired Mr Crawford (I can’t call it love). Not only did she make that ghastly decision, and ensure that her rival Julia Bertram had no chance at Crawford either, but then rather than making a go of the marriage, she leaves Rushworth, involving him in the disgrace of a public scandal. This is a whole bunch of bad behaviour, and while I couldn’t wish Mrs Norris on anyone, neither do I care at all for Maria.

A situation in which the adulterous woman is handled sympathetically can be found in Sense and Sensibility. Colonel Brandon’s back story involves his requited love for his family’s ward, but she is forced by the family to marry his older brother – who is cruel, and “his pleasures were not what they ought to have been”. {ahem} Eventually she leaves him, and is divorced, but continues on as a mistress to other men. She is spoken of with empathy and sorrow. She had an illegitimate daughter, Eliza, who Brandon takes on responsibility for – and the daughter likewise is seduced, and then abandoned while pregnant.

Once Brandon has told Elinor Dashwood this entire story, her first question is, “Is she still in town?” Despite Eliza being lost to good society, Elinor is willing to befriend her and help share in Brandon’s support of her. Indeed, on top of all that, Brandon has even fought a duel to avenge Eliza’s honour.

The whole thing is seen as being horribly sad and unfortunate, but neither Brandon nor Elinor will judge her or treat her badly.

In Emma, the illegitimate Harriet Smith is treated as a worthy member of the community in her own right. Questions of her parentage only arise when she is finally about to marry, and it is discovered that her father was an apparently respectable tradesman. No judgement is made, beyond a class-related remark that the daughter of a tradesman could be more properly married to a tenant farmer than the lord of the manor.

In Pride and Prejudice, Georgiana Darcy almost elopes with George Wickham – and Lydia Bennet not only does elope with him but continues to live with him despite the intended marriage being postponed to a vague future. Georgiana’s mistakes are forgiven, and Lydia’s escapade is patched up into respectability. Lydia is another character who is difficult to like for her own sake, but again that seems more about her own poor decisions and selfishness, and her lack of concern for her family’s feelings or reputation, rather than moral outrage about Lydia herself. We certainly don’t judge Georgiana badly.

And so Austen deals with illicit sexual relationships surprisingly frequently, and with a surprising lack of judgement. True, the men (as, generally, the seducers) are sometimes the villains of the piece – but not always. The women (as, generally, the seduced) are dealt with more on their own merits than on a simple lack of chastity. And such circumstances seem to be an intrinsic part of the Austenverse.

I don’t know what this means, if it means anything at all, but it’s certainly giving me much to ponder.

The “Coffee House” eBook Giveaway – Day Three

MP Coffee House Blog giveaway

To celebrate our new blog, we’re giving away one free book per day, for the first seven days of March. The draws will be made as close as possible to 10.00 am UK time, starting on Wednesday 2 March.

And we have the results for Day Two! Jen‘s name was chosen via random.org. She chose a copy of MAKE DO AND MEND by Adam Fitzroy – which will be heading your way shortly, Jen! We’re particularly proud of this excellent story, we have to admit.

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

No one but we admin peeps will be able to see any of the details you enter via the form. Please note, however, that any 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.

If you are successful once, please feel free to enter again. That includes Andrea and Jen! You can win twice before being disqualified for the rest of the giveaway.

So, pour yourself a beverage of your choice and browse our titles. You might like to experiment with the work of a new author, or complete the backlist of a favourite.

Good luck and best wishes to everyone who takes part!

The “Coffee House” eBook Giveaway – Day Two

MP Coffee House Blog giveaway

To celebrate our new blog, we’re giving away one free book per day, for the first seven days of March. The draws will be made as close as possible to 10.00 am UK time, starting on Wednesday 2 March.

And the results are in for Day One! Andrea‘s name was chosen via random.org. She chose a copy of IN DEEP by Adam Fitzroy – which will be winging its way to you shortly, Andrea! We hope you enjoy this terrific story as much as we did.

In this brave new world, we’re trying a different method of entry, using a form rather than the comments. {gasp}

Click here for the Book Giveaways form. This will open in a new window or tab. You’ll be asked for your first name, an email address, which title you’d like, and in which format. All these fields must be completed before clicking the Submit button.

No one but we admin peeps will be able to see any of the details you enter via the form. Please note, however, that any 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.

If you are successful once, please feel free to enter again. That includes Andrea! You can win twice before being disqualified for the rest of the giveaway.

So, pour yourself a beverage of your choice and browse our titles. You might like to experiment with the work of a new author, or complete the backlist of a favourite.

Good luck and best wishes to everyone who takes part!

The “Coffee House” eBook Giveaway – Day One

MP Coffee House Blog giveaway

To celebrate our new blog, we’re giving away one free book per day, for the first seven days of March. The draws will be made as close as possible to 10.00 am UK time, starting on Wednesday 2 March.

In this brave new world, we’re trying a different method of entry, using a form rather than the comments. {gasp}

Click here for the Book Giveaways form. This will open in a new window or tab. You’ll be asked for your first name, an email address, which title you’d like, and in which format. All these fields must be completed before clicking the Submit button.

No one but we admin peeps will be able to see any of the details you enter via the form. Please note, however, that any 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.

If you are successful once, please feel free to enter again. You can win twice before being disqualified for the rest of the giveaway.

So, pour yourself a beverage of your choice and browse our titles. You might like to experiment with the work of a new author, or complete the backlist of a favourite.

Good luck and best wishes to everyone who takes part!