Santa Baby, slip a paperback (or two) under the tree…

Life having slightly got the better of us here at Manifold Press lately, we’ve unfortunately missed a couple of opportunities to bring new paperback editions of some of our titles to your attention. Today, however, with the launch of the paperback version of Morgan Cheshire’s A TIME TO KEEP, we have an opportunity to put that right. So, out with your time-turner (or, if you prefer, hop into your blue Police box) and let’s take a brief trip back to May 2016!

 

Adam Fitzroy’s THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER WYE sneaked out in paperback a good eighteen months ago, and we completely forgot to mention it at the time! It’s the modest little tale of an organic farmer, the obligations he’s inherited from his dead brother, and the return of a long-lost friend who seems determined to share his burden. Join Rupert, Jake, and their assorted family and friends as they investigate a series of mysterious occurrences on an isolated Welsh land-holding, and juggle with the demands of an irascible TV chef!

 

F.M. Parkinson’s THE WALLED GARDEN is really too well-mannered a book to make a great fuss about itself, but for those who enjoy Dickens, Mrs Gaskell, the Brontes and other authors of the period who tell a story slowly and with masses of corroborative detail the new paperback version will be a welcome addition to their library. When William Ashton is employed as Edward Hillier’s gardener he is attracted to his master but – in an unforgiving social climate – love is slow to blossom, albeit lasting when it does.

 

Morgan Cheshire’s A TIME TO KEEP is another of her trademark gentle love stories, this time taking place in the years immediately surrounding the First World War. Two workhouse boys in love, Ben and Matthew, make their tentative way in the world, determined only to stay together. Ben secures employment on a farm, Matthew becomes an assistant lock-keeper on a busy canal. When war comes, however, their hopes are crushed, and Matthew must continue alone – until, that is, the providential arrival of a stranger gives him something new to hope for.

 

We love all three of these books, and we’re delighted to see them in paperback form; there’s loads of good reading here for the long winter evenings, and they’re just the thing to slip into someone’s Christmas stocking … or, indeed, your own!

Researching B.W. (Before Wikipedia)

THE WALLED GARDENAn author guest blog
by F.M. Parkinson

When I wrote the original version of The Walled Garden, personal computers didn’t exist and the internet was a thing of dreams.  So what was it like then, researching and writing a novel?  How did it differ from researching and writing a novel today?  I had no easy access to information except through libraries and I didn’t live anywhere where there was a large library with a good reference section and a wide-range of stock on its shelves.  How could I find out what I needed to know, having set the novel in the England of the 1850s?  Books were certainly the answer but how could I get hold of ones with relevant information?

Above anything else, style was very important for the writing.  I didn’t want to write in the way I’d done short pieces up till then.  They were modern and reflected up-to-date language and pace.  I needed to know how people spoke to each other in the 1850s (at least in novels), as well as the sort of style an author used in writing a story.  Therefore I read novels published at that time, titles long forgotten these days, but still to be found quite easily then in second-hand bookshops.  I got the feel of the pace of the stories, the words used and the way in which authors used them.  Both the plots and the language used made me very aware of the class differences that existed at the time and how outwardly rigid society could be.  So I adopted the far more measured pace that novel writers used, and adapted their style to suit my own story.  The Walled Garden deliberately does not rush through the development of the plot or the relationship between Hillier and Ashton for that very reason.  As for the language used, I would refer back to the books of the 1850s if I was concerned as to whether a particular word or term was used then, or how words would have been phrased.

But I still needed a vast range of information.  I read up about the law concerning homosexuality (only it wasn’t called that then) in 19th century Britain, particularly the law as it stood in the 1850s.  Quite different in some ways from the earlier part of the century, as well as from the difficulties Oscar Wilde was later to be faced with.  I read about Victorian attitudes to sex.  Not just the public attitudes but those expressed in diaries and letters and certainly never intended for the public eye.  It became obvious that people in Victorian Britain were just as uninhibited and passionate as anyone today but they kept their behaviour far more private.  And how did I find the books I needed to discover such information?  By visiting the local library, checking its card catalogue, looking on the shelves to find books that might give me information, then looking through the bibliographies at the ends of the books for other titles that sounded as though they might be useful, and which I could borrow through inter-library loans.  It was a slow process.  One book took months to arrive and when it did, they had sent me the wrong volume (the library’s fault, not mine).  The relevant volume arrived in record time!

Looking back through my research notes, I have details on men’s clothing: their outer clothes, depending on their status in life; their underwear (it was amazingly difficult to find out what the 1850s man wore under his trousers); the hats they wore; their general appearance.  I have information on Victorian society of the time.  I found out about Victorian servants, their jobs, and the hierarchy that existed in households.  There are notes on bathrooms and plumbing in 19th century houses, on gardens and gardening, and flowers and plants that would have been grown at that time.

In libraries I found books that had photographs of London in the 1850s, including the parliament buildings and street scenes and houses to be found in the capital.  I came across articles on London life, and information on railway journeys and railway stock.  I read up about the Australian gold rush of the 1850s, and found out about illnesses that were common in Britain then and what sort of treatments were given to those who could call on a doctor for help.

I also wrote to museums and societies for information.  I have a letter from the Merseyside Maritime Museum giving me details about emigration from Liverpool to New York and which docks the ships sailed from, as well as listing books that I might find to be of use.  The National Railway Museum in York supplied me with details about Waterloo Station.  I wrote to the House of Commons Library when I realised that parliamentary sessions of that period did not begin and end at the times they do today, and they gave me precise dates for the years I needed, as well as information on the buildings associated with Westminster.

I was given recipes and details of foodstuffs that an invalid might eat, as suggested by Mrs Beeton.  I discovered newspapers from the 1850s in a very rundown second-hand bookshop, and they contained advertisements for servants for a variety of work and which was exactly what I needed.  I bought and studied plans of the Liverpool docks at that period and postcards of paintings of them.  Articles from The Illustrated London News, obtained through inter-library loan, were a mine of information on emigration and the whole process of leaving the country.

The house where I had set my story was then open to the public (it no longer is).  I visited it on a weekend away to that part of the country and was able to look at its layout and grounds, including an old walled kitchen garden.  I looked at plans and old photographs of the place, available from books on country houses and in guidebooks.

All this took some years (including several house moves and changes of job) and it was a case of constantly looking for information and checking what facts I could glean from the various sources.  Everything was typed up on a manual typewriter with carbon papers between several sheets for copies.  Insertions and additions meant pinning pieces of paper to the pages, or cutting up typed pages and rearranging where I wanted the text to go.  Amstrads were available by then but I certainly couldn’t afford to own one.  Compared with today’s ease of altering and amending text, it seems something of a marathon.

Would it be different today, now that the internet is available at the click of a mouse or a tap on a screen?  There is a vast amount of information ‘out there’ and it would certainly be easier to find out some of what I needed to know, as well as in contacting various museums and societies through email, rather than having to compose a letter and post it and then wait for ages for a reply.  I would be able to track down useful books and possibly a greater range of books than I could through looking at their bibliographies.  My library service now gives me access to encyclopaedias and the full Oxford English Dictionary, with updates, which would have been very helpful when deciding what words were appropriate for the 1850s and which were far too modern.

But not everything is on the internet and not everything on the internet is accurate, as we all know.  I still find in my current work that I usually have to go back to books for detailed information on a particular subject.  The internet cannot help me.  And details can make all the difference to a story.  However, I think we now have the best of both worlds.  When I came to revise the story for publication, the internet proved very helpful when I needed more photographs and descriptions of places and settings which I had not thought about before, so I was able to amend some details in the text (as well as taking editorial advice and cutting down on a cast of thousands, and rewriting the story in places).  But overall, the work I did originally was not negated by anything I found out during the revisions.  All the ways I used in order to do my research were of great help.  It’s perhaps just a little less complicated these days.

More price reductions on old favourites

Continuing our year of changes throughout MANIFOLD PRESS, we’re introducing another set of permanent price reductions on classic titles.

BETWEEN NOW AND THENBETWEEN NOW AND THEN by Adam Fitzroy – now $4.95!

It’s 1991, and a group of English football fans are driving across Belgium; their trip takes them through the site of a former battle, and that’s when a strange sequence of events begins. For Dennis and Allan, colleagues who cordially dislike each other, this means journeying further still – into what appears to be the past, and into the lives of two men who travelled this way seventy-five years earlier, whose unfinished love-affair remains to be played out in full. As they move backwards and forwards in time Dennis and Allan have only themselves to rely on, no markers to show them where they’re going, and no real certainty of ever finding their way home again.

MONTANA REDMONTANA RED by Jane Elliot – now $4.95!

It’s out of the frying-pan and into the fire on the day Henry first meets Red. He’s happy enough at first to be having sex with a man – Heaven knows, it’s better than what he’s running away from! – but it isn’t too long before Red’s sexual extravagances are driving the two of them apart. It’s only when Henry’s trying to manage on his own again that he at last begins to achieve a little perspective – on inversion in general, on himself in particular, and even on his relationship with Red. That’s when he starts to wonder if maybe there isn’t a way back for them after all, but this time it will definitely have to be on his terms…

THE EAGLE'S WINGTHE EAGLE’S WING by Cimorene Ross – now $5.95!

Roman Gaul: Lucius Valerius Carus isn’t naturally impulsive; when he suddenly and unexpectedly buys a slave at a market it’s because he feels sorry for a man who has obviously been maltreated in the past. However he’s taken on far more than he bargained for with Keret – intelligent, educated, and a great deal stronger than he looks. Roman society wouldn’t think twice about Lucius using Keret for his sexual pleasure – indeed, it would be astonished if he didn’t – but it’s likely to be horrified if it ever learns that Lucius has started to respect his slave, and absolutely disgusted if it discovers that he’s gradually beginning to fall in love…

HUNTEDHUNTED by Liz Powell – now $6.95!

As a professional footballer it looks like Adam Hunter has it all, but when the secret of his affair with midfielder Louie Jackson begins to leak out he’s plunged into the depths of misery – prompting a desperate series of manoeuvres to conceal the truth. Injured, distrusted by his team-mates and plagued by personal tragedy, Adam goes from hero to zero – and by the time Louie’s transferred to a German side he’s running out of reasons to stay alive. If there’s any way back from the brink of suicide, it isn’t clear to him at the moment…

THE WALLED GARDENTHE WALLED GARDEN by F.M. Parkinson – now $6.95!

William Ashton, retained as a gardener by Edward Hillier, discovers his new master to be a detached and driven man. Over the years, as travail and tragedy bring them closer together, he understands that they have more in common than he first realised, but the affection they feel for one another will be sorely tested by boundaries both of class and of rigid Victorian morality. Like the private garden behind the high walls their love must flourish only in the strictest secrecy – or else it will not do so at all.

If you missed any of these diverse and fascinating titles earlier in their illustrious careers, this would be a wonderful opportunity of making their acquaintance!

Statistics for January

Just briefly – our best-seller on all platforms for the month of January was Julie’s OF DREAMS AND CEREMONIES, with her original BUTTERFLY HUNTER not being far behind; we suspect that’s probably a lot of people taking advantage of the opportunity to buy both books at once and enjoy the whole ride!

Best-seller on our website for the month, however, was F.M. Parkinson’s THE WALLED GARDEN; it’s nice to know that new people are still finding her book – and also, we hope, enjoying it!

New review of THE WALLED GARDEN

THE WALLED GARDENWe were delighted to learn this morning that the wonderful Elisa Rolle has just finished reading F.M. Parkinson’s THE WALLED GARDEN and published a review of it:

I liked this story, more I loved it. Yes, it was long, and not really fast-paced, but I loved every single word, and in a way, I found it to be sweet and romantic, but also passionate; not overtly on your face, but more a passion shimmering beneath the ashes, ready to spark into a burst of flame if stoked, but otherwise warm and constant, slowly feeding the love of these two men.

Thank you so much, Elisa, we’re all thrilled that you thought so highly of it – and congratulations again to F.M. for making such a favourable impression!

Eleventh Day winner

Thank you once again to everyone who entered our penultimate Christmas Giveaway draw; it’s been very reassuring to have so many entries every day, and we hope that those of you who haven’t been successful so far will be willing to try just once more tomorrow.

Today’s winner is Shirley Ann, who has asked for a copy of F.M. Parkinson’s THE WALLED GARDEN. Congratulations, Shirley Ann – we’re making arrangements to get your prize to you as soon as possible; keep an eye on your inbox!

Meanwhile, let’s all meet one last time over on the Twelfth Day of Christmas Giveaway post – see you there!

New review of ‘THE WALLED GARDEN’

A review of F.M. Parkinson’s THE WALLED GARDEN, which has previously appeared at GoodReads, has now also been posted at the Confessions from Romaholics blog. The reviewer speaks very highly of F.M.’s writing, and adds this:

The author has a way of describing this garden and nature in general that is so soothing, relaxing and peaceful. More than once, when reading her descriptions and my imagination doing the rest, it was as if I was admiring one of these wonderful British romantic paintings of the 19th century … what an extraordinary feeling!

Well, we certainly wouldn’t want to argue with that!

… and another two reviews!

This is obviously ‘review season’, as another two reviews of our books have been posted today – both of these at Coffee Time Romance. Both books received ‘four cups’, and were met with very positive responses.

Of R.A. Padmos’s UNSPOKEN, the reviewer, Lototy, said:

I am not sure how it is possible for one story to be so heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time, yet every page of this book reinforces those exact feelings for me,

whilst her assessment of F.M. Parkinson’s THE WALLED GARDEN concluded with the following words:

These men are so deserving of the love they share, it saddens me to see them fight their feelings. I think their friendship is truly the cornerstone of this story, and I am extremely pleased to have experienced this author’s work.

We could not possibly disagree with either of these sentiments, and are absolutely delighted to see these two hitherto rather under-valued books getting the recognition they both richly deserve.

Statistics for July; new titles available on distribution sites

The highest seller from our website during July was F.M. Parkinson’s THE WALLED GARDEN, and the average response time steady enough at four hours and three minutes.

The overall best-selling title in July, though, was a dead heat between Chris’s FOX HUNT and Julie’s ALBERT J. STERNE: FUTURE BRIGHT, PAST IMPERFECT.

What’s more, we’ve just uploaded THE WALLED GARDEN and R.A. Padmos’s UNSPOKEN to the sites of our distribution partners, Rainbow and AllRomance, for the benefit of anyone who has difficulty making our online shop module work. We hope to be announcing some new distribution partnerships later in the year.

New book announcement/statistics for June

MANIFOLD PRESS is on its travels again today, so we’re bringing you both the new book announcements and the month-end statistics a fraction early.

Our two books for 1 August publication are Julie Bozza’s BUTTERFLY HUNTER and Jane Elliot’s ABOVE ALL.

Julie is absolutely indefatigable and is turning out new work at a truly phenomenal speed; BUTTERFLY HUNTER is the tale of two young men brought together by chance – or is it? – by a gentle but nonetheless life-changing adventure in the Australian outback.

Jane is returning to us after a taking break to deal with other matters, and ABOVE ALL, her book this time, focuses on a clash of temperaments between eccentric genius Jasper and Brian, the homeless man he takes responsibility for after an accident brings them together.

We are very happy once more to have two such diverse and intriguing books to present to you, and we’re certain that they will both prove to be very popular!

To conclude, here are the sales statistics for June; there was no overall best-seller from the website this month, with UNSPOKEN and THE WALLED GARDEN selling in precisely equal numbers – which is just as it should be! Average response time was respectable enough at three hours and 48 minutes.