Wander on over there for more about Elin’s current working methods, and her future writing plans!
Anne Barwell is a good friend of Manifold Press – she’s helped us out with questions of fact and cultural sensitivity issues in the past – but we had absolutely no idea she was planning to review one of our books on her blog!
We love a good historical – which is why we grabbed Heloise West’s ARDENT with both hands when it was offered to us – and apparently Anne does, too:
Ardent is very well researched and it shows. I loved the descriptions of the settings—they were very easy to visualize and made me feel as though I was there watching everything going on as I was reading. I enjoyed learning about the artists’ process, and especially the day to day life of the masters and their apprentices in the workshops of the time. […] I loved the descriptive language and thought it suited the time period of the story well.
This review was a lovely and unexpected treat, and we’d like to thank Anne for her time – and especially for her concluding words:
We’re in total agreement with her about that – and in fact we couldn’t have put it any better ourselves!
We are very excited by our three offerings for your spring / autumn reading pleasure! We are honoured to be publishing new work from Jay Lewis Taylor and the award-winning Barry Brennessel, as well as our new Shakespeare-inspired anthology. These can all be pre-ordered now, and will be available on 1 May.
We weren’t alone in wanting to know more about the fascinating characters and setting of Barry Brennessel’s short story in our Great War anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES, so we know we won’t be the only ones thrilled to read his ANH SANG novella. This expands and significantly develops the original story, in surprising and intriguing ways.
Barry has also adapted the story into a screenplay, which has won recognition in prestigious screenwriting contests. We’re proud as punch to be playing a small role in bringing you this tale!
Pre-order links for ANH SANG:
From Jay Lewis Taylor we have the story WHERE ANGELS FEAR, in which Richard, invalided home from the Navy, meets Les, a Lancaster bomber pilot still serving with the RAF. This story ranges from the intimately personal to the internationally significant, in carefully considering how war affects those most closely involved.
This volume also contains another story, THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER.
Pre-order links for WHERE ANGELS FEAR:
Following up on the success of our Austen-inspired anthology, we’re delighted to bring you NO HOLDS BARD, which takes its inspiration from Shakespeare and his works – and then runs off in several directions at once. Editor Fiona Pickles is thrilled by the variety brought to you by the ten authors, some already familiar to the Press and others new to us:
- Julie Bozza
- Siobhan Dunlop
- Adam Fitzroy
- Bryn Hammond
- Erin Horakova
- Molly Katz
- Vanessa Mulberry
- Eleanor Musgrove
- Michelle Peart
- Jay Lewis Taylor
Pre-order links for NO HOLDS BARD:
Three books which are absolutely perfect to curl up with, no matter what the weather!
We did, briefly, wonder whether we were experiencing deja vu when this review came to our notice this morning; the reviewer’s name seemed uncannily familiar. And yes, we checked – Heather Rose Jones has actually reviewed Farah Mendlesohn’s delightful SPRING FLOWERING before. However, on investigation, this turned out to be whole new review in a different venue, six months after the last, although we’re reassured to learn that Heather’s opinion of the book doesn’t seem to have altered in the slightest.
This is a perceptive review, and we especially appreciated this paragraph:
“The most common failure mode of historical romance is to drop modern women into the past and have them react in anachronistic ways. Mendlesohn’s characters are a delightful exception: neither too modern in their self-awareness of their sexuality, nor tormented and angsty about it in a way that only really developed in the 20th century.”
We know that’s what our historical authors are always aiming for, so confirmation that one of them has hit the target is particularly welcome!
The review’s conclusion:
would make us want to go out and buy the book immediately ourselves, if we didn’t already have a copy or two stashed away. Thank you again, Heather; we really appreciate your good opinion, and are once again grateful to you for sharing it.
A guest post by editor Fiona Pickles
As those who were involved in preparing our charity anthology CALL TO ARMS – and, hopefully, also those who bought copies and enjoyed them – may remember, all the proceeds from the sale of this volume go directly to the Refugee Council. We sent them their first ‘royalty payment’ at the end of February, and in return they kindly sent us a letter of thanks and a copy of their ‘Impact Report’ for 2016-17 to enable us to see where our contribution is likely to be spent.
Not only is it nice to be acknowledged by such busy people, it’s also very valuable to have some sort of picture of the work they do. On the whole we could probably have guessed most of it, but there were a few highlights which stood out and captured my imagination, so I thought I would pass those on to you.
In 2016-17, the Refugee Council supported 7,522 refugees and asylum seekers and 3,318 unaccompanied children. They helped 97 young people who had been trafficked – 77 girls and 20 boys. They pushed for refugee status and resettlement funding for Syrian refugees, enabling them to attend university in the UK – and also to apply for passports, so that they can travel abroad to see their families.
They support refugee children whose age is disputed, who are sometimes treated by default as adults and therefore put into unsuitable accommodation; they provide them with language teaching, help with socialisation, access to sports facilities and homework support. They also provide psychotherapeutic services for children and young people, and training and support for foster carers.
In addition to helping refugees with documentation and legal services and steering them towards suitable work and accommodation, they have helped a number of refugee doctors to retrain and requalify so that they can be employed in the NHS. It’s difficult to imagine anything more closely resembling a win-win scenario than this!
There is, too, an extensive programme assisting and supporting destitute asylum seekers who are otherwise forced to rely on the standard asylum support payment of £5.00 per day (about $7.00 US) – intended to cover food, clothes, toiletries, travel and in fact everything else the individual may require. The Refugee Council provides hot meals, showers, laundry and barbering facilities and – perhaps even more importantly – moral support and social opportunities for people who must at times feel very isolated by their position.
In fact, it probably doesn’t take too much imagination to put oneself into the position of an asylum seeker or refugee, hundreds or perhaps thousands of miles from home in a country where the weather, the language, the customs, the clothes and just about everything else are not only unfamiliar but potentially quite terrifying. Getting away from the threats, the violence, the famine or the fear in their home country and making a difficult journey half-way around the world is only the beginning of the story for them. Once they arrive in the UK, however, the Refugee Council is – together with Oxfam, Amnesty International UK, the British Red Cross and a number of other organisations with dovetailing remits – right there in the front line of people stepping up to welcome them and help them to settle in.
All in all, then, it’s difficult to think of a better use for our “ill-gotten gains” than to support the Refugee Council in their sterling efforts, and we look forward to sending them further payments every three months throughout what we hope will be the long lifetime of CALL TO ARMS.
You can find more information about the work of the Refugee Council on their website.
We’d like to thank anthology editor Heloise Mezen for nominating the Refugee Council as our chosen charity, and for undertaking all the initial discussions with them. Take a bow, Heloise; none of this would have been possible without you!
Smashwords are celebrating Read an Ebook Week from 4 to 10 March 2018, with deep discounts on awesome titles!
Manifold Press is participating, with all of our titles, backlist and new, discounted by 25%. (The only exceptions are our charity anthologies, A Pride of Poppies and Call to Arms.) This is a great time to stock up that TBR pile, and maybe try some new stories you’ve been pondering. Whether you’re snowed in or stretched out on a beach somewhere, it’s always good weather for reading!
We were delighted to see this new review of Elin Gregory’s A TASTE OF COPPER, by reviewer Sammy, which has recently appeared on The Novel Approach Reviews.
For such a short novella, I was thrilled by the lush quality of this author’s writing. From the stark beauty of the countryside to the harsh living conditions that Maheris and Olivier endure while guarding the bridge, I felt fully immersed into this medieval tale. I rarely find many novels in this genre that have both a ripping good storyline as well as such attention to detail. A Taste of Copper managed to both educate and entertain, and that places this historical romance at the top of the genre for me.
Thank you, Sammy, we loved it too – although I suppose that goes without saying! – but you’ve articulated the book’s merits so much better that we ever could have done. It really is a little gem!
An author blog post
by Julie Bozza
As many of you will have already realised, I am a bit of a foodie. I love food. I love eating out, I love cooking, I love eating, I love nurturing others with my food. When I travel, I love exploring the local cuisine. It seems natural to me that a home revolves around the kitchen and dining areas, that people gather together to share lunch or dinner, that birthdays, anniversaries and other events are celebrated with a special meal.
Because it’s such a central part of my life, I have quite naturally included food and all its associated circumstances in my writing. Characters plan to meet again over a meal out – or at least over coffee! One character offering to cook at home for another is a Significant Step in their relationship. The point-of-view character happily indulging in the taste, scent and texture of … let’s say pancakes … helps express their enjoyment of life in all its glories.
It was a surprise to me, early on, to be laughed at over this. Laughed at fondly, in an ‘omg only you would include pancakes in this story’ kind of way. I hadn’t realised it was an idiosyncrasy! I thought it was just life as she is lived! The laughter didn’t stop me, though, and I certainly know by now I am not the only author who explores the meanings and metaphors of food in their writing, even when food isn’t the main subject at all.
Another aspect of my writing is that I like to write about adult characters who are reasonably self-sufficient. This is often signified by the characters being ready, willing and able to cook. Whether they live alone or with others, they can manage a home and a kitchen. They also care enough about themselves to eat properly, balancing health with a happy enjoyment of indulgences.
This all goes right back to Albert, main character of my very first attempt at a professional novel, THE DEFINITIVE ALBERT J. STERNE. He’s been living alone since his mid-teens, and he’s super efficient in managing himself and his home. He’s a vegetarian – not because he’s squeamish, but for all the many logical, moral and ethical reasons there are – and he has developed his recipe repertoire accordingly. Albert is also a well-barricaded loner, so allowing Fletch into his home is a huuuge deal. Soon Albert is not only cooking for him, but also exploring and inventing vegetarian versions of the Creole and Cajun dishes that Fletch enjoys so much. To me, this all speaks volumes about their growing relationship.
My more recent novels continue to include similar tropes. As I have mentioned in other blog posts, the first building block for A THREEFOLD CORD was Ben’s huge warehouse-conversion apartment. This gave the couple and then the threesome a safe haven with plenty of room in which to grow. As well as this, Ben is a serious cook with a serious kitchen, and he quite deliberately sets out to not only nourish Grae with his food choices but to intrigue him as well.
Why, yes, I was brought up with the notion that the way to a loved one’s heart was via their stomach! But seeing as my stomach also benefited from such efforts, I figured it was a win-win situation.
When Ben and Grae are finally invited to Chris’s place for a meal, they realise he is also house-proud (if in a more modest way), and he is also a serious cook. This gives Chris and Ben something to bond over (other than Grae himself!) but also drops a few clues about Chris’s true nature that neither Ben nor Grae pick up on right away.
Apart from my love of food, there’s no hiding the fact that I’m a coffeeholic. I always know what my characters drink by way of coffee (or tea); their preferences in milk, sugar, lemon, and so on; and their choices of mugs or cups. Coffee provides the rhythm of my own day, so I tend to conceive of my characters in the same way. Unlike me, some of them are tea-drinkers instead, but I figure that similar concerns apply.
So far so good, but there’s no denying that this focus on food and drink can go wrong sometimes! There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip, as they say!
As with any trope or subject matter, readers’ tastes will vary from the author’s, often significantly. My focus on food and cookery (and coffee!) will work for some readers but not for others. I guess that must be true for just about any subject you care to name…
I’d love to hear from you in turn! What are your thoughts on defining and exploring characters via food? What other subjects are you interested in reading and writing about? The books the characters read; the locations in which they live; the way they decorate their room(s); the music they listen to; the social media they use? What helps truly define a character for you…?
Best wishes from us all, whether you’re celebrating this year or not. Any holiday that’s observed with wine and/or chocolate is absolutely fine with us!
We’re delighted to say that another new review has crossed our path this morning, this time from reviewer Jules at The Novel Approach who has recently been reading Elin Gregory’s SHEEP’S CLOTHING.
It’s not a long book so Jules has very wisely kept the review short to match – but it does include this wonderful passage:
“I found myself immediately taken in by the cheeky humor of the story and the characters, and I thoroughly enjoyed author Elin Gregory’s easy comedic style and dialogue. […] I loved the originality of this fun little read. Definitely check this one out if you’re in the mood for something different that will make you chuckle!”
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves, Jules – and thank you for your time and your comments!