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!

Spirituality and Place

A guest blog post 
by Julie Bozza

When I wrote OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES, the sequel to BUTTERFLY HUNTER, I wanted to explore a couple of questions of spirituality. I don’t think I found any firm answers, mind you, but then maybe there aren’t any. Or maybe there are as many answers as there are individuals. We all have our own belief systems, after all – even those of us who are atheists. So maybe an exploration of the questions, and an honest ‘thinking / feeling things out for ourselves’, is all we can do.

Locations

Those of you who’ve read BUTTERFLY HUNTER will remember that Dave Taylor is surprised to find that he has some kind of connection with a particular location in the Australian Outback. This is the isolated waterhole where Nicholas finds his blue butterflies, which is known to Dave’s Indigenous friend Charlie as a Dreaming site. Because Dave can find this secretive place when others can’t, Charlie suspects that Dave has a spiritual connection with the waterhole, despite Dave being a white fella.

Indigenous cave paintings of waterholes on Uluru, photographed by Kim Dingwell, and sourced on Wikimedia Commons

Being a white fella myself, many might sincerely believe I have no business writing about such things, and I apologise for any offence given. To quote from my acknowledgements in the novels, I wrote these stories ‘with nothing in my heart but a love of and a wish for interdependence between all our peoples – and for that perhaps any infelicities will be forgiven’.

I remained all too aware that I was approaching this with a white fella’s understanding, and I made sure that Dave himself expressed the same awareness. I’ve read a fair bit about the Australian Indigenous people’s Dreaming, and it feels pretty much impossible for a white fella to get her head around. It involves such a different way of thinking about time, let alone anything else.

So Dave and I were interpreting and applying ideas from our own perspectives. On the practical side of things, Dave was both conceived and born near the waterhole, despite his parents living in Brisbane. On the mystical side of things, the Barcoo grunter ancestor sleeping in the waterhole must have felt some kind of affinity with Dave’s soul, and created the connection between them. And thus it was all very much tied to place, to a specific location in a particular country.

Before all this unfolded, Dave never thought of himself as a spiritual person, and it’s probably still something that doesn’t quite sit neatly within him. He probably thinks of it all as something strange (though not unwelcome) that happened to him, rather than something that happened because of him.

So, I pondered – finally coming to The Question I wanted to explore in the sequel – how would Dave react to spiritual things connected to other locations, other countries?

The Duloe Stone Circle in Cornwall, photographed by Philip Halling, and sourced on Wikimedia Commons

In OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES, Dave has followed Nicholas to England; Nicholas promptly proposes marriage and Dave just as promptly accepts. They spend their honeymoon in Cornwall, near a circle of standing stones. While (the English) Nicholas is drawn to the stones, and finds them eerie and unsettling, (the Aussie) Dave reacts to them with no more than mild interest. To him they’re a human construction that happens to long predate the nearby cottage they’re staying in, and that’s all there is to say about that.

So my answer to that question was that Dave is a spiritual creature within a particular context – within a country that he considers home – but that doesn’t necessarily make him sensitive to spiritual things associated with other locations steeped in other traditions and understandings. Whether that’s a misguided notion or not, I leave you to decide!

Ceremonies

The Other Question I wanted to explore a little was what kind of ceremony it would take for these two men to feel married. At the time in England, the only legal option available to them was civil partnership, involving a ceremony performed in a civil or non-religious location. Nicholas declares that he thinks of this as marriage regardless of the legalities – but, while I don’t think he’s any more religious than Dave, I suspect Nicholas would have chosen a church service if he could.

The spoken vows required at that time certainly lacked poetry:

I declare that I know of no legal reason why we may not register as each other’s civil partner. I understand that in signing this document we will be forming a civil partnership with each other.

I had Dave and Nicholas each speak their own vows as well, which were based on the stories of their lives, to supplement those dreadfully prosaic words.

A threefold Celtic symbol, created by Tinette, and sourced on Wikimedia Commons

Returning to The Original Question for a moment … I was less explicit in the novel about another spiritual aspect of their stay in Cornwall. They befriend Margaret Widgery, a local woman who acts as caretaker for the cottage, along with her mother Joan and her daughter Maeve. The three women can be seen as representing the Maiden, Mother and Crone. While there’s some contention about the historical basis for the neo-pagan Triple Goddess, it is a potent idea.

Even though Nicholas never indicates whether he sees the three Widgery women in this way, he jumps at the chance of a handfasting ceremony led by Joan, to supplement his and Dave’s civil partnership ceremony. The novel also mentions other ways in which Dave and Nicholas affirm their vows to each other, in other times and other places. Indeed, between us we make it as thorough as we know how, bringing in both the practicalities and the different strands of spirituality to which they are connected.

They can hardly claim they weren’t thoroughly married to each other by the end!

The 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967

Today, 27 July 2017, marks the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which decriminalised private homosexual acts between men over 21 in England and Wales. As is obvious from the length of that description, this was only a partial victory, and we can hardly pretend that gay men and other people in the LGBTQ+ spectrum enjoy full equality even now.

Despite those caveats, the legal victory in 1967 and all the progress made since are things to be celebrated. The Manifold Press team was surprised and delighted by how many of Britain’s cultural institutions are acknowledging the milestone of this anniversary during 2017 – and we wanted to celebrate, too.

Hence, OUT OF THE SHADOWS: EXTRACTS FOR AN ANNIVERSARY 1967-2017. This is a free anthology of extracts from Manifold Press titles that illustrates in a modest way the changes experienced by gay men over the centuries in Britain, and how the social and legal situations may have affected individuals. The extracts begin with the Romans in the 1st century CE, and bring us right through to current issues such as marriage equality and gender-fluid pronouns.

The anthology also includes a detailed timeline of gay history in England, from 17 BCE through to the present day, written by Fiona Pickles.

This free eBook is available to download directly from Smashwords and its distributors, in all available formats. We plan to also make free paperbacks available at Queer Company 3.

We’d like to thank all the Manifold Press authors for supporting this project, and in particular the following authors for agreeing to us sharing their work: Julie Bozza, Morgan Cheshire, Adam Fitzroy, Elin Gregory, Sandra Lindsey, Eleanor Musgrove, R.A. Padmos, F.M. Parkinson, Cimorene Ross, and Jay Lewis Taylor.

We hope that readers will find much to ponder in this volume, and if you are inspired to explore further – whether in our titles or elsewhere – that would be marvellous, too!

New reviews of OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES and THE THOUSAND SMILES OF NICHOLAS GORING

Tori (Vicki) of Love Bytes LGBTQ Book Reviews has continued reading my BUTTERFLY HUNTER trilogy, and has now published reviews of the second and third volumes, OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES and THE THOUSAND SMILES OF NICHOLAS GORING.

In response to the second volume:

I loved seeing the relationship further develop between Nicholas and Dave, and how they interact with their respective family members. The sex scenes between them are wonderful, gentle yet hot. The little bit of mystery was a nice addition …

And the third volume:

What a great wrap up to the series! … What really made this whole series work is Nicholas and Dave, and their close bond.

Now is a great time to give this trilogy a try, as all our backlist titles are 25% off at Smashwords, for the whole month of July.

We wish you happy reading!

Visiting Physic Gardens

A guest post
by Julie Bozza

I don’t have green thumbs, alas! But I do appreciate a good garden, and I’ve long been fascinated by medieval physic gardens.

Physic gardens (as we know them) date back to the time of Charlemagne (742-814). Sections of a garden would be set aside for growing plants used for medicinal purposes, and for teaching apothecaries about their trade.

This makes physic gardens sound very practical – and they were! – but there is also an element of beauty within them. Many of the medicinal plants were in themselves beautiful. For example, certain irises were grown in such gardens, as their rhizomes (known as orris root) were used in both perfume and medicine. Irises are utterly gorgeous and my favourite flower, so that decisively proves my point, at least to myself!

With all those herbs and flowers growing, you can imagine how beautiful such gardens were for the nose as well as the eye! It was common practice for a bench to be installed in a physic garden so that convalescents could sit for a while and soak up not only the sun but the healthful scents.

The idea of physic gardens evolved into our modern-day botanic gardens, which have a broader interest in all plants – though of course most botanic gardens specialise in particular areas, or are shaped by their location and climate.

Chelsea Physic Garden (photo by Julie).

The University of Oxford Botanic Garden embodies this history, as it was founded in 1621 as a physic garden, and now has a wider remit with over 8,000 different plant species across a four-and-a-half acre site. True to its origins, however, the garden includes medicinal beds growing plants used in modern medicine.

Continue reading “Visiting Physic Gardens”

Reviews for BUTTERFLY HUNTER and WHILE YOU SEE A CHANCE

We were happy to see a short but very positive review of WHILE YOU SEE A CHANCE by Alexa Milne, courtesy of Sue at Books Laid Bare Boys.

This book was quite simply beautiful. … I was left with a sense of peace that is hard to describe.

This romance features older main characters, which we would love to see more of in our genre – and with a response like that, maybe you’ll agree!

Meanwhile, one of our backlist titles – BUTTERFLY HUNTER by Julie Bozza – continues to make new friends, thanks to the support of Australian author NR Walker and her own tale of butterfly hunting, IMAGO.

Tori (Vicki) of Love Bytes LGBTQ Book Reviews was inspired by IMAGO to give my book a go, and I’m delighted to say she obviously enjoyed it!

I loved this book, the story was engaging even though it was simple. Just two men looking for butterflies in the outback. … I was concerned about Dave and Nicholas, and wanted this to work out so badly for them. I loved them as a couple and they deserve all of the good things!

Now is a great time to give either (or both!) of these titles a try, as all our backlist titles are 25% off at Smashwords, for the whole month of July.

We wish you happy reading!

Our three new titles are released today!

It’s release day at last! We’re sure just about everyone will find something to love in our new titles – they are each so different, and cover such a range of style and content.


First up is Alexa Milne’s first novel with the Press. We were intrigued as soon as we heard that the romance features two older characters – the sort of main characters we feel are under-represented in our genre. WHILE YOU SEE A CHANCE sees Sion returning to his childhood home in South Wales – and finding that his best friend Phil has recently returned home as well. They are both approaching their sixtieth birthdays, but is it ever too late for a chance at love?

Adding further depth to the tale, Alexa also explores two other romantic relationships in different generations of Sion’s family. Love is love is love, but our society has changed over time, and that has huge implications for the individuals who don’t quite fit into the ‘norm’.

Buy links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords; Barnes & Noble; Kobo.


Chris Quinton’s stories often touch on the fantastical, and COINS NOT ACCEPTED is no exception. Here we’re introduced to a world which exists in parallel with our own, and to the political machinations which spill through the tightly-controlled portal between them. Against this background of danger and intrigue Miles is reunited with old friend Allan, and together they’re pitted against powerful forces that threaten the safety of both worlds. Getting out of this situation alive will already be a challenge; getting out of it alive and together seems almost impossible…

Buy links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords; Barnes & Noble; Kobo.


In A NIGHT WITH THE KNIGHT OF THE BURNING PESTLE, Julie Bozza does something different again. As if Francis Beaumont’s original play wasn’t chaotic enough, with two-plays-within-a-play, Julie wraps another layer around the whole, following the actors backstage in a modern-day production. Dale (who plays Rafe) and Topher (who plays Jasper) have worked together before – and Topher wants to celebrate the last night of this run in the same way they celebrated last time. This doesn’t fit into Dale’s plans at all, but perhaps Beaumont’s play “full of mirth and delight” has something to teach him.

Buy links: Amazon US; Amazon UK; Smashwords; Barnes & NobleKobo.


We hope you’ll enjoy these tales as much as we do!

Save

Three (very different) new titles for 1 May!

If there’s one thing that our next three titles have in common, it’s that they’re each so different!

This new novel from Alexa Milne is her first with the Press. We were intrigued as soon as we heard that the romance features two older characters – the sort of main characters we feel are under-represented in our genre. WHILE YOU SEE A CHANCE sees Sion returning to his childhood home in South Wales – and finding that his best friend Phil has recently returned home as well. They are both approaching their sixtieth birthdays, but is it ever too late for a chance at love?

Adding further depth to the tale, Alexa also explores two other romantic relationships in different generations of Sion’s family. Love is love is love, but our society has changed over time, and that has huge implications for the individuals who don’t quite fit into the ‘norm’.

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


Chris Quinton’s stories often touch on the fantastical, and COINS NOT ACCEPTED is no exception. Here we’re introduced to a world which exists in parallel with our own, and to the political machinations which spill through the tightly-controlled portal between them. Against this background of danger and intrigue Miles is reunited with old friend Allan, and together they’re pitted against powerful forces that threaten the safety of both worlds. Getting out of this situation alive will already be a challenge; getting out of it alive and together seems almost impossible…

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


In A NIGHT WITH THE KNIGHT OF THE BURNING PESTLE, Julie Bozza does something different again. As if Francis Beaumont’s original play wasn’t chaotic enough, with two-plays-within-a-play, Julie wraps another layer around the whole, following the actors backstage in a modern-day production. Dale (who plays Rafe) and Topher (who plays Jasper) have worked together before – and Topher wants to celebrate the last night of this run in the same way they celebrated last time. This doesn’t fit into Dale’s plans at all, but perhaps Beaumont’s play “full of mirth and delight” has something to teach him.

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

Save