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!

Elin Gregory interviews our A CERTAIN PERSUASION authors!

A CERTAIN PERSUASIONIt’s a real honour to be hosted on the blog of Elin Gregory, a deservedly well-loved and highly respected author of historical fiction and romance. Recently she has been interviewing the authors involved in our Austen-inspired anthology, A CERTAIN PERSUASION.

If you’d like to know what the authors appreciate about Jane Austen’s use of language, what inspired their story in the anthology, and more – please follow these links!

  • Sandra Lindsey, who wrote an Age of Sail story featuring a character from Mansfield Park.
  • Adam Fitzroy, who wrote a story that took Emma in a rather different direction.
  • Julie Bozza, who retold Sense and Sensibility with one crucial difference.
  • Fae Mcloughlin, who wrote two stories with modern-day characters who are influenced by Austen’s works.
  • Sam Evans, who plagued a modern-day Darcy with participation in a ‘reality TV’ celebrity dance show.
  • Eleanor Musgrove, who wrote stories set in the future of Sense and Sensibility (beautiful!) and the past of Pride and Prejudice (intriguing!).
  • Lou Faulkner, who did exquisite work with two minor characters from Persuasion.
  • Narrelle M Harris, who retold Persuasion in modern-day Melbourne.
  • Atlin Merrick, who wrote about two original characters in a Regency-era setting.
  • JL Merrow, who looked into the future of two characters from Mansfield Park.

I hope you enjoy the interviews! And please do share the love with Elin, who has been such a welcoming host.

Author interview: JL Merrow

A CERTAIN PERSUASIONThis series of mini-interviews features the authors who contributed to our Austen anthology A CERTAIN PERSUASION.

Our next interviewee is JL Merrow, who wrote the story A Particular Friend, which takes a glimpse into the future of the characters of Mansfield Park.

Blurb: When Susan Price leaves Mansfield Park to accompany her aunt, Lady Bertram, to take the waters in Bath, she little expects to meet an old ‘friend’ of the family. Initially scandalised, Susan finds herself drawn to the former Mary Crawford, now a widow, Mrs Lynd.

But Lady Bertram will surely never countenance Susan’s intimacy with a woman whose brother caused her daughter’s disgrace – and Mrs Lynd’s true identity cannot be kept a secret forever.


Q: How did you discover Jane Austen and her works? What was the initial appeal? Has she surprised you since then?

I clearly remember my first encounter with Jane Austen: it was in Heffers bookshop in Cambridge. I’d just started my Natural Sciences degree, and was in there buying textbooks, but I paused when I came across a copy of Pride and Prejudice. That’s a classic book that everyone talks about, I said to myself. Maybe I should read it? So I picked it up and read the first page, with its famous opening: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

And this is where it all went wrong, because on reading that, my reaction was (and please bear in mind that I’d been raised on a steady diet of hard science fiction and old-fashioned crime thrillers): It’s all about love and marriage. Ew! And I put the book down again with a shudder and hied me hence to the chemistry section, just in case romance was catching.

Fast forward three years, and an older and dare I say, wiser me practically lived in the college literature library, sneakily reading Hardy and Forster while I was supposed to be studying quantum mechanics. By then I’d devoured all of Jane Austen’s works, including the juvenilia and the unfinished stories, and checked out as many of the books lampooned in Northanger Abbey as I could find in those pre-internet days. It’s left me with a lasting fondness for the gothic novels of Ann Radcliffe.

The writing may not have been on the wall quite yet, but the moving finger was definitely hovering in readiness. 😉

Q: Which Austen character do you like best? Which do you identify with most?

Oh, Lord. It always comes back to Fanny Price of Mansfield Park, for me, and yet she really isn’t very likeable in many ways. Such a prig, and the original party-pooper. But she does stand up for what she believes to be right, in her quiet way—and she’s the only one of Austen’s characters who ever spared a thought for the plight of slaves. Perhaps her own position as a poor relation who was continually reminded of her lower status gave her some empathy for those suffering far worse.

I think her story appeals to me because she is so ill-suited by nature to make the best of what fortune sends her way—her more confident younger sister Susan does far better in a similar situation—and would have had a much easier life if she’d had a more outgoing, less sensitive personality. I guess if I’m really honest that’s the part of her I identify with most.

But she should never have married Cousin Edmund, whose dull morality would feed off her own. I’m sure Fanny would have had far more fun if she’d ended up with a Crawford! 😉

Q: Why do you think the Regency is such an appealing period to write and read about?

Well, as Saul David, biographer of Prinny himself, put it: “The Regency in its widest sense (1800-1830) is remembered today as a devil-may-care period of low morals and high fashion.” – Prince of Pleasure, Saul David, 1998.

What’s not to like? 😉

And I think for me it comes down to being able to relate to the people of the times. The Victorians, for example, with their stiff corsets, stiff collars and stiff sense of propriety just don’t appeal to me all that much, whereas I’ve always had a particular weakness for the 1920s, the age of jazz and flappers, as well as the Regency Period. Basically, and in spite of my fondness for Miss Price, I like to read and write about people I can imagine having fun. 🙂


Jamie MerrowAuthor bio: JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.

She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy, and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards finalists.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers’ Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Links: website; Twitter; Facebook


A CERTAIN PERSUASION buy links: AllRomance; Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords

Three new titles now available!

1 November is here at last, and our three new titles are now available! This includes two New Adult novels as well as an anthology featuring modern LGBTQ+ fiction inspired by the novels of Jane Austen.

A CERTAIN PERSUASIONA CERTAIN PERSUASION showcases thirteen stories by eleven authors, each of which takes something of Jane Austen’s as its source – and from that point on nothing at all is certain. We meet compelling reinterpretations of canonical characters such as Elinor Dashwood, William Elliot, Emma Woodhouse and – of course! – Fitzwilliam Darcy, and are also introduced to new ones who will linger in the memory – Adam Ashford Otelian, Robert Oakes and the enigmatic Lint, to name but a few. For anyone who has ever ‘thought beyond the page’ about Jane Austen’s work, this book is a real goldmine of intrigue and adventure. (And you will also make the close acquaintance of Mr Beveridge’s Maggot – really, need we say more?)

The authors include some familiar names and some new to the Press: Julie Bozza; Andrea Demetrius; Sam Evans; Lou Faulkner; Adam Fitzroy; Narrelle M Harris; Sandra Lindsey; Fae Mcloughlin; Atlin Merrick; JL Merrow; and Eleanor Musgrove.

Buy links:


SUBMERGEIn SUBMERGE by Eleanor Musgrove we meet Jamie, wandering innocently into the web of friendships and intrigues that surround a popular local club. Soon accepted as one of the ‘family’ he finds himself beginning to fall for manager Miles, but events occur which make him very reluctant to trust either the new man in his life – or, indeed, anybody else around him.

Buy links:


TO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STARTO THE LEFT OF YOUR NORTH STAR by Michelle Peart takes us to the unfamiliar world of Abaytor, where Edward and his new friend Burn are thrown headlong into a series of adventures and perils in the course of an extraordinary river journey – one which will leave them both profoundly changed, and also looking for answers to a greater mystery.

Buy links: