The Goodreads M/M Romance Members’ Choice Awards 2017

We’re pleased and proud to see Manifold Press authors represented in The Goodreads M/M Romance Members’ Choice Awards 2017. The nominations and votes are “by the readers, for the readers”, so they mean all the more to us.

If you are a member of the M/M Romance group, then please head over to vote for your favourites, whichever and whoever they may be – and no doubt add to your To Read pile(s) while you’re at it!

The nominations for our authors are:

Thank you so much to all involved!

 

Our Famous ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ Giveaway – Day One winner!

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’re giving away one free ebook per day, with the draws being made as close as possible to 12.00 midday UK time daily.

The winner for Day One is Yvonne, who very wisely chose THE BONES OF OUR FATHERS by Elin Gregory. Julie will be emailing that to you shortly, Yvonne.

Draws are 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!

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!

Wishing you all the joy of the season … with a bonus End of Year sale!

The Manifold Press team wishes you much merriness and joy, whether or however you celebrate during this season.

Smashwords is celebrating by hosting an End of Year Sale for eight days from 25 December to 1 January inclusive – and the Press is participating, with all of our backlist titles discounted by 25%. (The only exceptions are our charity anthologies, A Pride of Poppies and Call to Arms.)

This is a terrific opportunity to stock up that TBR pile, and maybe try out some stories by new-to-you authors.

Browse the Manifold Press catalogue on Smashwords – or browse the full catalogue of all the discounted ebooks across the site. We’re 100% sure you’ll find something to love!

  • Please note that the discounts will not apply to our three new titles announced on 1 January.

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.

Scholarly review of A PRIDE OF POPPIES

We were delighted to see a very thorough review by Marie Ramsland of our Great War charity anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES in the ISAA Review volume 15 number 2 of 2016. This came about because the anthology’s editor, Julie Bozza, is still a member of the Independent Scholars Association of Australia (ISAA) despite her years of living in the UK.

We felt the review was worth sharing with you in full, though please be warned that some of the following remarks about story arcs are spoilers.


Review by Marie Ramsland

For a long time, homosexuality was heavily punished. Often withdrawal from society was the only safeguard. Yet male camaraderie during the war was encouraged by military authorities, encouraging male bonding. Most of the time this was platonic; sometimes more intimate relationships were experienced. Silence or denial is generally no longer needed for such emotions. Therefore, with the centenary of the Great War well underway, this special anthology is a welcome contribution. The stories deal with the impact of war not only in the battle arenas, but also at home, for women and men, parents, siblings and friends. The hurdles the protagonists have to overcome to realise ‘happiness’ or even some sort of individual fulfilment are set up by contemporary social mores supported strongly by religious beliefs. Credibility is enhanced by real locations and lived experience.

Each story offers something special, revealing human weaknesses and strengths that unite us all, creating equilibrium from dichotomy. They reveal aspects of not belonging to the conventionally accepted norm indicated by the anthology’s titles. Three stories stand out for their depth of characterisation: ‘Inside’ by Eleanor Musgrove; ‘A Rooted Sorrow’ by Adam Fitzroy; and Barry Brennessel’s ‘Anh Sang’.

Readers are taken ‘Inside’ Alexandra Palace in north London set up as an internment camp for Germans, Austrians and Hungarians on British soil, citizens and visitors. Life is hard for all, more for the homosexual: ‘… you have to snatch your tender moments when you can … I hope, after the war, things will be easier’.

Fitzroy’s story is set in an English village where attitudes are imbedded in daily life, but love proves stronger than convention. It deals with strong relationships – mother/son, lovers – and the healing power of memory. The powerful narrative, enriched by including several contemporary issues, compels the reader’s attention.

Set in Indochina, ‘Anh Sang’ shows how the French colonisers treated their subjects daily. Fifty thousand Indochinese served in France with heavy casualties. The protagonist avoids enlistment, while his lover is imprisoned but freed during an uprising. They stay together – in hiding, hoping for a better future.

Continue reading “Scholarly review of A PRIDE OF POPPIES”

Layers of love

A guest blog
by Heloise West

Julie Bozza asked us to talk about the love we have for our novels—I had to give ARDENT a re-read in order to capture the ghost of that feeling again, but it’s there, buried beneath the layers of paint and plot twists.

I loved creating these characters, watching them come to life, and it’s challenging working within the historical context. We always ask what a character wants when we start this journey, and, in general, they want what we all want. To be happy. But every character’s definition of happiness is different, an expression of that person’s core qualities.

Morello is the simpler of the three main characters. Art is his love, his family, but not having had a home or a family to call his own, he yearns for that, too, and for someone to share it with him.  He is as honest as he can be; he wears his heart on his sleeve. His journey to happiness is the hard work of loving, supporting, and waiting for Benedetto, though it’s a trial that affects him on a professional level. When he had no love, at least he had art, and loving Benedetto has endangered his reputation.

Benedetto, I’m afraid, doesn’t have his best moments in the beginning of the book, but I think he redeems himself. His evasions, theft, and regret hide a passionate, loving nature. His journey to happiness lies in revealing the truth and dealing with the consequences, and loving Morello the way he deserves to be loved.

Leo, like Morello, is honest about his emotions and his desires. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone because of his affairs, but he remains true to his wandering, lustful nature. He looked out for Benedetto as an elder brother would when they were younger, taught him all he knew about art, allowed Benedetto to manage him, and taught him to love. The only lesson Benedetto couldn’t learn from him was the art of letting go.

It’s an odd triangle, considering one of these characters is absent for most of the story, though his influence is felt throughout.

The character of Falcone at first was just a thug with an uglier name, but weirdly, he showed up at the palazzo where Leo had died and soon became more fully realized, an important plot point of the story. An orphan like Morello, he did not have the kind local priest to raise him, but the mean streets of Florence. I do love my darker characters and one my favorite scenes is the confrontation between Falcone and Benedetto when Falcone needs help fleeing the city. I’d love to write Falcone’s story, about how he finds himself loved and redeemed.


(It’s Julie here, chiming in to say oh how I do pine for that companion volume exploring Falcone’s story. How intriguing that would be! Well, in the meantime, we still have ARDENT to treasure…)

Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels – including ARDENT – at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you, but hey it is the silly season soon!)

Happy reading!

Three cheers for the Rainbow Awards 2017!

We’re absolutely delighted by the final results of the Rainbow Awards 2017, which have been announced overnight. The Press received some wonderful recognition, amidst a patently strong field of entries.

Author and stalwart colleague Morgan Cheshire deservedly won first place in the category Best Gay Historical for her novel A TIME TO KEEP (details at the Press website).

The judges said:

1) This was a beautifully written book that had me enthralled from the first page to the last. I was emotionally involved with the characters and transported in time and place to the village of Thornton and into the lives of Matthew, Ben and Sam. I have no hesitation at all to give this book top marks.

2) This felt like one of those generations-long epics. You can feel time fly by, how people try to grasp at happiness and love, only to be foiled by life, war, and death, and in the end renewing their passion for life. The writing is plain and matter-of-fact, yet full of rich natural imagery and lovingly painted landscapes, and that is what makes the whole thing work. There’s the historical framework of WWI against the lives and loves of two young men–and then a third. This story speaks of memories gilded by the passage of time, of a nostalgia for better days before wars decimated men and left them as walking shadows. It speaks of hope most of all, how love endures even in the face of death, and how love can transform sorrow to happiness. An absolutely beautiful story, and I’m not even a fan of the 20th century.

A TIME TO KEEP was also a Runner Up for Best Gay Book.


Meanwhile, debut author Dorian Dawes came equal second in the category Best LGBT Anthology / Collection for their anthology HARBINGER ISLAND (details at the Press website).

The judges said:

1) There was much to like about this book. The title was evocative, and the diversity of characters was both welcome and believable. It was a solid, good read.

2) Delightfully creepy tale that could well have been part of the Twilight Zone series, complete with menacing townsfolk and rotting buildings A different twist is given in part by the main characters who are mostly transgendered. Interesting and spooky plot.

3) I loved the way the stories all linked together to form a full story. Great sense of evil and horror, and interesting diverse characters. Hope there’s a sequel as it feels as though the fight against evil has only just begun.

HARBINGER ISLAND was also a Finalist for Best LGBT Book.


This recognition is on top of Honourable Mentions for A TIME TO KEEP and HARBINGER ISLAND, as well as:

(This may be a good time for a reminder that HARBINGER ISLAND and TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR, as well as other titles, are currently on sale at Smashwords.)

Congratulations to all the authors and publishers who took part! Hearty thanks for the efforts put in by the judges, and above all by Elisa Rolle, who really is a miracle worker. Thank you! ♥

What people think about UNDER LEADEN SKIES

UNDER LEADEN SKIES by Sandra Lindsey is a solid wartime novel, mixing the best of realism with a turn-the-page approach to story-telling.

How have people responded to it … ?

UNDER LEADEN SKIES received an Honourable Mention in the Rainbow Awards 2016, and was a Finalist in the Gay Historical fiction category. Among other things, the judges said:

It was a pretty good story. It kept me curious as to what would come next.

Stevie at The Good, the Bad and the Unread rated it Grade A, and concluded:

I loved this book, both for the story told within it and for the style in which it is told – addressing the reader throughout, as Teddy passes his story on to an individual whose identity only becomes clear at the very end. There’s a lot of scope for sequels – and possibly a prequel – so I hope this isn’t the only visit we pay to the characters and their world.

Dan at Love Bytes LGBTQ Book Reviews gave it four stars, and said:

This was one of those books I finished reading and then sat there gazing at my Kindle…reflecting on the story I had just read…and the book hangover it left me with. Did I like it? Yes, very much. Did I like it all? No, to be honest…there were parts I didn’t like, but only because they tugged at my heartstrings. […] Is the book complete as it is? Yes. But I enjoyed the story and would like more, darn it!

Freya at Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews gave it four stars, and concluded:

Under Leaden Skies is a delightful, engaging tale that took me into a world far from my own. There is death, dealing with life in difficult circumstances, injury, drama, loving from a distance and making the best of the hand one is dealt. This would be a lovely story to lose oneself in during that sunny afternoon, lay in a hammock under a shady tree, with a cup of Earl Grey at your side.

Our readers are loving it, too! On Amazon, Andyj9511 gave it five stars and said:

A cracking good read … This is a fantastic story of “forbidden love” in difficult times. It is well written and gives a good insight in to the struggles of two young men coping not only with their love but of a Country at war.

While Stephen H gave it four stars and said:

Very good! … My wife and I included this book in our bedtime reading-to-each-other hour. We were both excited about a book that had LGBTQ characters. We enjoyed it very much. Our only complaint is that we wanted the story to be longer! 🙂


Indeed! We love it when the readers are left wanting more – though we have to admit it does also make us feel a tad cruel. But this is obviously a marvellous book to read alone or with the partner(s) of your choice … The people that read together stay together!

Manifold Press is currently offering five of our recent novels – including UNDER LEADEN SKIES – at discount prices on Smashwords. Follow these links, and then click the Buy with coupon buttons for the books of your choice. (Whether you then click the Give as a gift button is entirely up to you, but hey it is the silly season soon!)

Happy reading!