The Refugee Council

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!

New reviews of A TIME TO KEEP, CALL TO ARMS

Once more we’re indebted to our friends over at the Historical Novel Society for some hugely encouraging reviews of our output. HNS reviewer Viviane Crystal has been considering two of our more recent publications, with highly gratifying results:

Speaking of Morgan Cheshire’s A TIME TO KEEP, the reviewer clearly enjoyed the author’s gentle tone:

This story of their love is depicted in serene, peaceful ways, highlighting the normalcy of their relationship

and concludes by calling it “[n]icely crafted historical fiction“, with which we can only concur!

The reviewer was also impressed with our Second World War anthology CALL TO ARMS, singling out some stories for individual mention – such as Megan Reddaway’s ‘The Man Who Loved Pigs’ and Julie Bozza’s ‘We Live Without A Future’ – before concluding that the book as a whole is “An interesting […] and memorably inspiring body of historical fiction.

Coming from someone who presumably by definition reads a great deal of historical fiction, this is quite an accolade – and one we’re immensely pleased with.

Thank you so much, Viviane Crystal and the HNS! We’re thrilled that you enjoyed our books so much, and grateful that you took the time to let us know!

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 titles released today!

Our three wonderful new titles are available now! We trust you’ll love them as much as we do.


Farah Mendlesohn is well established as a historian and critic, so the Press was delighted to have the opportunity of publishing her debut novel SPRING FLOWERING.

This historical romance is an immersive look into a changing world. Ann Gray has been mistress of her father’s parsonage in a quiet country village. After he dies she finds herself in the bustling commercial city of Birmingham, living with her uncle, aunt and cousins. How can she regain her independence and sense of purpose once her period of mourning is over? Ann encourages cousin Louisa’s interest in the family’s manufacturing business, but is that an occupation Ann would enjoy? She might encourage the new parson Mr. Morden to propose marriage. Or she might become companion to the enticingly daring widow Mrs. King. Whatever she chooses, we’re sure you’ll enjoy accompanying Ann on her journey.

Buy links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords. Also available from Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.


Manifold Press’s resourceful fact-checker and problem-solver Heloise Mezen has served as editor for our Second World War anthology CALL TO ARMS.

This is a companion volume to our well-received charity volume on the Great War, A PRIDE OF POPPIES. All proceeds this time are going to the British Refugee Council (Registered Charity No. 1014576).

This anthology has again attracted a deeply talented group of authors. The seventeen stories take the reader far and wide – through Britain, Europe, Asia and South America – and introduce (occasionally re-introduce) a wonderful range of characters. We’re sure you’ll find plenty in here to love.

Buy links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords. Also available from Apple, Barnes & Noble, CreateSpace and Kobo. Available in both eBook and paperback formats!


As many of us know by now, Elin Gregory is a superb storyteller, and we are sure her CALON LAN will not disappoint.

With the war being waged in Europe, it is vital that farming and other essential occupations continue at home – but there is increasing pressure on everyone, and the world feels as out of control as the weather. Bethan and Nye Harrhy manage their farm as best they can with the help of Bethan’s brother Alwyn, injured during his service in the trenches. When Alwyn asks his friend Joe to come live with them, Bethan assumes that another pair of hands will help rather than hinder … or is she being a bit naive?

Buy links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords. Also available from Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

ESPRESSO SHOTS is an informal imprint which features long stories and novellas. If you want to read more about this imprint, please check out our blog post. The cover image is the same for all titles, so we chose an image that evokes the comforts – and the stimulations – of the reading experience itself.


We are absolutely sure you’ll find something – or many things – for your reading pleasure here!

Please join us if you can for a Q+A on Facebook – about these books, books in general, and all things LGBTQ+ – on Sunday 5 November, at 17:00 UK time! Click the link and let us know you’re interested. We’d love to chat with you.

New titles for 1 November announced today!

We’re delighted to announce three wonderful new titles – available for pre-order now, and available on 1 November!


Farah Mendlesohn is well established as a historian and critic, so the Press was delighted to have the opportunity of publishing her debut novel SPRING FLOWERING.

This historical romance is an immersive look into a changing world. Ann Gray has been mistress of her father’s parsonage in a quiet country village. After he dies she finds herself in the bustling commercial city of Birmingham, living with her uncle, aunt and cousins. How can she regain her independence and sense of purpose once her period of mourning is over? Ann encourages cousin Louisa’s interest in the family’s manufacturing business, but is that an occupation Ann would enjoy? She might encourage the new parson Mr. Morden to propose marriage. Or she might become companion to the enticingly daring widow Mrs. King. Whatever she chooses, we’re sure you’ll enjoy accompanying Ann on her journey.

Pre-order links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords. Also available as a pre-order via Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.


Manifold Press’s resourceful fact-checker and problem-solver Heloise Mezen has served as editor for our Second World War anthology CALL TO ARMS.

This is a companion volume to our well-received charity volume on the Great War, A PRIDE OF POPPIES. All proceeds this time are going to the British Refugee Council (Registered Charity No. 1014576).

This anthology has again attracted a deeply talented group of authors. The seventeen stories take the reader far and wide – through Britain, Europe, Asia and South America – and introduce (occasionally re-introduce) a wonderful range of characters. We’re sure you’ll find plenty in here to love.

Pre-order links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords. Also available as a pre-order via Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.


As many of us know by now, Elin Gregory is a superb storyteller, and we are sure her CALON LAN will not disappoint.

With the war being waged in Europe, it is vital that farming and other essential occupations continue at home – but there is increasing pressure on everyone, and the world feels as out of control as the weather. Bethan and Nye Harrhy manage their farm as best they can with the help of Bethan’s brother Alwyn, injured during his service in the trenches. When Alwyn asks his friend Joe to come live with them, Bethan assumes that another pair of hands will help rather than hinder … or is she being a bit naive?

Pre-order links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords. Also available as a pre-order via Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

ESPRESSO SHOTS is an informal imprint which features long stories and novellas. If you want to read more about this imprint, please check out our blog post. The cover image is the same for all titles, so we chose an image that evokes the comforts – and the stimulations – of the reading experience itself.


We are absolutely sure you’ll find something – or many things – for your reading pleasure here!

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!

The authors include: Julie Bozza; Barry Brennessel; Charlie Cochrane; Sam Evans; Lou Faulkner; Adam Fitzroy; Wendy C. Fries; Z. McAspurren; Eleanor Musgrove; and Jay Lewis Taylor.

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!