Friday, 27 December 2013
Is it believable that not only two men like Red and Henry meet and fall in love, but also that they are living in a place where Red is able to go and find willing recreational partners? I think so, cause, it’s pretty much similar to what happened in real life ...
Thank you, Elisa; we're very glad that the book rang true for you and we're certain that it also will for ther readers - and to Jane, congratulations again!
Wednesday, 18 December 2013
We're working away steadily on two new titles for publication on 1 February, details of which will be announced on 1 January as usual, but in the meantime we've got a small festive treat lined up for you. Starting on 26 December and for 12 days thereafter we'll be giving away one free book per day; the rules are simple - we'll ask you to send us your e-mail address and choice of one of our present titles and preferred format in a screened reply, and at 8 p.m. each day (UK time) we'll draw a winner at random. You may enter once per day for as many days as you like, but anybody who wins twice will be disqualified thereafter. This giveaway is being hosted on LiveJournal only, see this and subsequent posts; entries left on this blog will not be included in the draw.
So please come on in and join us; it's a great chance to experiment with a new Manifold Press title or author, or to complete the backlist of one of your favourites!
And to everyone who is celebrating at this time of year - and also to everyone who isn't - we send the warmest wishes and appreciation of everyone here at Manifold Press; this wouldn't be at all worth doing without you, and we're very glad to have you along for the ride!
Sunday, 15 December 2013
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Does it matter how we spell words or whether we use the correct grammar and punctuation? Is proofreading really necessary? Does any of it make a difference to the reader’s enjoyment of the text? As someone who is a proofreader as well as a writer and, of course, a reader, I feel quite strongly about the subject and consider that it does not always receive the attention it deserves.
At its most basic, proofreading is checking that the spelling, punctuation and layout of a text are correct according to current usage and the publisher’s own ‘house style’. I emphasise current usage, because spelling, grammar and layout have changed over the years. There are many words where we no longer need to put in an apostrophe to show that they have been shortened. Who now would write ’phone (for telephone) or ’bus (for omnibus)? Where British English used to use a ‘z’ in a word, it now often puts an ‘s’, so it has ‘realise’ rather than ‘realize’. Both are correct and it may come down to the publisher’s house style as to which letter is used in certain words. The proofreader will need to know in advance which style is being used.
There is also a difference between British English and American English when it comes to spelling, word usage and punctuation. Again, it is up to the publisher to decide on whether one or the other is used, and that may depend on whether the writer usually writes in American English, or whether the story is set in the USA or Canada and reads more naturally if the text is in American English. When it comes to spelling, American English tends to prefer ‘z’ in spelling rather than ‘s’, so once again we are back to ‘realize’. Word usage is different, so ‘sidewalk’ rather than ‘pavement’. Moreover, words change their meaning from one version of English to another. In American English, ‘homely’ is usually used in the sense of ‘unattractive’. British English does not have this meaning for the word. Again, the proofreader has to be aware of which version of English is being used in a text, and can then check it accordingly. (Australian English is different again!)
Punctuation is equally important. It allows the writer to indicate what they mean in the text, and it enables to reader to follow what is happening, who is speaking and, hopefully, understand what the writer meant. That may make no difference to someone who is not bothered about punctuation but I imagine most people who read a lot have a reasonably good grasp of it. Again, it can vary according to current usage, house style and whether British or other variations of English are followed. It may even be down to the idiosyncratic views of the writer. Someone may choose to write twenty pages of text without a single full stop. Their writing may be brilliant and regarded as innovative. I suspect they are the exception. Most authors will probably be seen as not having bothered with proofreading and they, their editor and publisher may be regarded as putting out works that are poor in quality because no-one can follow what the writer is trying to say. One writer I have come across insisted on putting the full stop outside the quotation marks at the end of direct speech, because they liked the look of it that way. It may have seemed all right to them but not to anyone else.
As a writer, I want to make it clear to a reader what I mean in the text, and who is saying what. As a reader, I want to enjoy the story without constantly trying to work out who is speaking, or whether the author meant this - or that. The reader can glean this from the way punctuation is used, so it is important to get that right. What they do not want is to be ‘thrown out’ of the story through being confused by the text.
Admittedly, there are variations in style. For example, it is not always necessary to use quotation marks to indicate direct speech. It can be done in other ways. That may be up to the way the publisher prefers a text, bearing in mind that the most readers are more familiar with quotation marks rather than any variations. It is also necessary to be aware of punctuation and how it has been used in a text. A comma in the wrong place (or missing) can make a huge difference to the meaning of a sentence. “Stick it in, Thomas” is completely different from “stick it in Thomas”. In the first version, Thomas is being asked to stick something in. The second version tells the reader that Thomas is about to have something stuck in him. It is the comma that makes all the difference. When checking the text, if the meaning is unclear the proofreader should query it, so that the author or editor has another look at it.
Styles in layout have changed and vary even now. It used to be the norm that direct speech always had to start as a new paragraph. That is no longer adhered to. You will find direct speech suddenly beginning in the middle of a long paragraph of exposition. I find that disconcerting, but it is not necessarily incorrect. I have also come across direct speech of a second character following on from that of the first, all in the same paragraph. That is not a good idea, because the text starts to become jumbled for the reader. It is much clearer if the writer begins a new paragraph when another character starts speaking. In terms of layout of text, that again will depend on the publisher, and the proofreader will need to take their cue from accepted house style.
Is it the job of a proofreader to point out other mistakes the writer has made? No, but it may save red faces all round if the error is mentioned. Then it is up to the editor and/or writer to decide what to do about it. If a story is set in 2013 in Yugoslavia, then the country name is wrong for that date, and the author or editor will have to correct it or accept that readers will undoubtedly point out the error. Or if a character has been called Kenneth throughout the novel and then is suddenly referred to as Michael (and I have come across this in published books), flag it up.
Writers do not always use the correct word and a proofreader should be on the lookout for that. I was a bit startled to read in a book by a very successful writer that the protagonist did not care whether a government official conducted his public duties in a solid building or in a marquis. While this conjured up all sorts of mind-boggling images, what was on the page was not what the author had meant, because the text made it clear that the permanence of a stone building was being compared with the temporary nature of a large tent. At this point, I was ‘thrown out’ of the story and had a good chortle. Whether the wrong word was the author’s, or whether it had been changed along the way by a second or third party, who knows. Certainly no-one picked up the error before the book was published.
Other bugbears of mine are the use of ‘precipitous’ when the writer means ‘precipitate’, and writers putting ‘may’ when they mean ‘might’ (and vice versa). Confusing ‘lay’ and ‘lie’ is another common occurrence. This is complicated by the fact that colloquially the words are often interchanged, but in both British English and American English the correct usage is the same, and putting ‘he lays on the bed’ begs the question ‘What exactly does he lay on the bed? An egg?’
As a writer, of course you should check your own work. That means proofreading the text, not just spell-checking it. No computer can indicate that you have put ‘forth’ when you meant ‘fourth’. A proofreader should then check the text and its layout and that should go back to an author to be corrected. However, do not accept all corrections as gospel and be aware that a proofreader may not have spotted a mistake. I discovered I had a character peeing into some bushes where another character was hiding. Nothing wrong with that except that it was not what I had intended to write. The character should have been peering into the bushes to discover the person hidden there. Maybe peeing was a more interesting alternative…
Sunday, 8 December 2013
We were still reeling from the news that Adam Fitzroy had won 'Best Gay Historical Romance' for MAKE DO AND MEND - with Jane Elliot taking third in the same category for MONTANA RED - when we opened a further e-mail and were knocked sideways yet again by the news that MAKE DO AND MEND had also taken the award for 'Best Gay Novel'. We can only imagine the utter chaos prevailing in the Fitzroy household this morning - we have it on very good authority that Adam celebrated by having a massive cheese sandwich for breakfast, but there's heady talk of a bottle of wine for later on!!!
Manifold Press has also been honoured for the following:
Julie Bozza - THE APOTHECARY'S GARDEN - runner up in 'Best Gay Contemporary Romance'
Adam Fitzroy - BETWEEN NOW AND THEN - runner up in 'Best Gay Paranormal Romance'
In the excitement it's not impossible that we might have missed something else (please tell us, if we have), but these are certainly the headlines - and what headlines they are! Many many - indeed manifold - congratulations to all our authors for making such a strong impression on the judges; we're quite excessively proud of you all, and will only say (at the risk of seeming greedy!) more of the same next year, please!
Monday, 2 December 2013
From the cottage where Dave and Nicolas spend their honeymoon to the supposedly haunted stone circle right on their doorstep, from the eccentric characters they encounter in the nearby fishing village to their quirky secret-tunnels-and-hidden-trapdoors adventure – I enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek references to “typically British” storylines including Enid Blyton’s Fabulous Five.
We have to assume plenty of other people agree with this, too, to judge from the speed at which customers are snapping up the book; looks like you've got another hit on your hands, there, Julie!
Sunday, 1 December 2013
Progress on our next two titles is already well-advanced, and we'll be bringing you details of those on the first day of the New Year. Meanwhile we've got plenty to look forward to ... the Rainbow Awards are being announced next weekend, and we can't wait to see how everybody's got on; fingers crossed for all our authors - we have every confidence in your success!
Tuesday, 26 November 2013
It reads with all the credibility of opening a time capsule.
Surely no author could ever dream of higher praise than that? It must make all the hard work of researching seem worthwhile! So thank you, Gerry - and well done, Adam!
Tuesday, 19 November 2013
We've raised a support enquiry with 1&1, who say that it's 'an intermittent problem'. This is all very well, and in the most recent case we did manage to get the file through eventually, but frankly it makes us look as if we're not doing our job - and that's not a situation we're particularly happy with.
Readers who have Comcast accounts need to be aware that there may be some difficulty in completing your order. We'll keep trying, of course, and we'll do our best to communicate with you about it, but in exceptional cases we may need to find an alternative method of delivering your file. Meanwhile, if you have a second account with another provider - anyone who isn't Comcast! - it might be easier all round if you were to order your book(s) from there.
Just a thought!
You'll gather from this that we've raised a formal query about this, and in fact we're doing whatever we can to try to get ourselves restored to Kobo's list (which is, admittedly, not much) - not least because we now have the bizarre situation whereby, for example, Chris's books with another publisher are still available but hers with us aren't, and there is to the best of our knowledge no significant difference in the quality or level of explicitness in the writing of them.
But the scale of the task must be enormous. There must be authors and publishers all over the world protesting that they've been unfairly treated, that their work should be made an exception, and having no idea of the level of staffing resources and expertise Kobo are able to apply to reviewing everything we can only conclude that it's going to take them some considerable time to sort it all out.
We suspect that those of you who've previously bought from Kobo's website are already fully aware of the situation and have made your own decisions about what to do in future. We're certainly not going to suggest any sort of protest or campaign in favour of Manifold Press's titles being restored to their list, which we suspect could be counter-productive, but if you do happen to think that a mistake may have been made in our case - well, a polite e-mail of enquiry to Kobo about our status certainly couldn't hurt. We'll leave you to decide whether or not you think that would be appropriate, and will only add that if you feel inclined to speak up on our behalf we here at Megaheadquarters will very much appreciate you taking the trouble. In any case, we hope to be back in favour with Kobo eventually - so please "watch this space" for further updates in due course!
Wednesday, 13 November 2013
There were two release day reviews, one by Mark at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews who said "Once again Julie [...] comes through with a wonderful story… " and one by Ami at Boys In Our Books who said " …I am in love with how Julie Bozza writes… " (Arent we all?!) More recently, Kindle Romance at The Romance Reviews has told us that "If you enjoyed the first story in this series, then this is a must read… " - again, a sentiment we can wholeheartedly endorse.
We'd like to thank all three of these reviewers for their good opinions, and to apologise to both them and Julie for not having posted about them when they were originally received; we'll try to do better in future!
Friday, 1 November 2013
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We've been a bit lax with the statistical information lately, so for the sake of completeness here are the gory details:
Our best-selling title in September was Julie's BUTTERFLY HUNTER (a perennial favourite!), and for October the best-selling title was Cimorene Ross's THE EAGLE'S WING. Our average response time for the past three months has been five hours 17 minutes.
Tuesday, 15 October 2013
In the book I am currently writing the two main characters have spent part of their childhood in a workhouse at the beginning of the 20th century. I do a lot of research for my work and one of the first and best books I bought was 'The Workhouse Encyclopaedia' by Peter Higginbotham who is an acknowledged expert on the subject. This had a list of former workhouses and I found that The Weaver Hall Museum (formerly known as The Salt Museum) in Nantwich, Cheshire, is housed in a former workhouse. Being able to visit Nantwich quite easily, I and my research partner (she accompanies me and asks questions, sometimes awkward ones) went to Nantwich - not so much to visit the museum, as to look at the building. While we were there I saw a notice announcing that there was going to be a Workhouse Study Day in a few weeks, so I signed up to attend.
I had to set off extremely early in the morning to attend the study day; registration was at 9.45 in the morning and I had to catch two buses to get to Nantwich - but there was coffee and biscuits when I arrived!
The day had a varied programme: Roy Clinging, a musician and local historian, told us about the background to some of the songs written about the workhouse and poverty. He and his wife sang several of them, accompanied by a sqeezebox or penny whistle. I was able to speak to Peter Higginbotham and thank him for replying to a question I had e-mailed him. He told us about the food that was served up to the inmates. He has published several books on aspects of life in the workhouse and I bought a copy of 'The Workhouse Cookbook'.
At the beginning of the workhouse era the food was very poor; bread and butter and bread and cheese alternating for supper; poor quality meat and broth for dinner and bread and beer for breakfast, but it did slowly improve over the years. In 1901 (just before my story is set) The National School of Cookery was instructed to devise a manual of workhouse cookery containing a variety of recipes for soups, main courses and puddings. Mr Higginbotham had come prepared and actually cooked some of the dishes for us to try. Golden Pudding containing flour, fat and golden syrup was extremely nice and most of us enjoyed trying it, but other dishes were not so popular.
In another session workhouse discipline was discussed and Dr Carter used documents from Southwell Workhouse to illustrate his talk. The Workhouse, Southwell, is owned by the National Trust and is the most complete workhouse in existence (half of the Nantwich workhouse had been pulled down). To visit Southwell would mean a journey of 160 miles there and back but a friend of mine has similar interests in social history and her husband was willing to take us there and back. Bless him.
The Workhouse is a fascinating place to visit and is presented as it was in the 19th century although it was still in use in the 20th; renamed Greet House in 1913 to house elderly people, in 1926 a new hospital treated cancer and tuberculosis patients. In 1929 all former workhouses passed from the Guardians who had previously been in charge of them to the local authorities, and Southwell became a Public Assistance Institution which still segregated inmates by sex and age - and those who could were still expected to work. The women's wing was used by the council until 1977 as temporary homeless accommodation in bed-sits for mothers and children awaiting permanent housing. It wasn't until the 1990s that the last of the staff and residents moved away.
When visiting The Workhouse today you can explore the yards separated by high walls for men, women and children. There was only one place in the yards where you could not be overlooked by the Master, whose private rooms and office were in the centre of the complex.
As you go into Southwell there is a video explaining its history and also a scale model showing the various rooms and their relationship to each other.
It is a given that life in the workhouse was very hard. We went down into the cellars, very cold with the only light coming from small round windows high up in the wall at the end of tunnels through the walls which are at least two feet thick. Women used to work down there preparing vegetables for the kitchen, often in water up to their ankles.
The staircases in the house were arranged so that men and women had no contact with each other on their way to and from the dormitories and day-rooms. In the dormitories you could see how the beds had been arranged with a peg in the wall beside each bed to hang up your clothes at night. The guide pointed out that the rooms were well ventilated but were cold in the winter and hot in the summer, especially those near the roof. Windows were frosted so that one section could not see into another, and every aspect of daily life was ruled by routine.
The work of the house was carried out by the inmates; cleaning, cooking, any nursing that was required, laundry and gardening, but you could leave the workhouse by giving only three hours' notice. You had to surrender your workhouse uniform and collect your own clothes, and a man had to take his family with him, but otherwise you were free to leave.
The workhouse was not a prison, but I am sure it often felt like one to the people obliged to live there.
Wednesday, 9 October 2013
Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that we didn't publish best-seller statistics as usual on the first of the month. The simple reason is that unfortunately we missed our window of opportunity; the Kindle sales figures vanish from sight quite quickly after the end of the relevant month and are then unavailable for two weeks until they reappear in the form of a downloadable report, and this time we're just going to have to wait for that before we can tell you which book sold most strongly in September. This is what tends to happen when you're trying to do too many things all at once, unfortunately!
Meanwhile, plans are already well in hand for our 1 February publications and our plans for the rest of 2014 are shaping up nicely; watch this space for further details!
Tuesday, 1 October 2013
For legal reasons (i.e., we won’t own the rights for another few days!) we are going to have to keep you in suspense about our second publication this time; we’ll be announcing the details of it on Thursday 10 October. They will both, however, be on sale as usual from 1 November.
Those of you who are especially quick off the mark may already have noticed the 'stealth-release' of our two 1 August titles, Jane Elliot's MONTANA RED and Cimorene Ross's THE EAGLE'S WING, which have been available on both Amazon and Smashwords since the weekend; they are now also available to buy from AllRomance eBooks.
On a sad note, we’d like to say how sorry we are that Rainbow E-Books have ceased trading. They were always very friendly and a positive delight to deal with, and even though their share of the market wasn’t exactly massive they did sell quite a lot of books for us which we truly appreciated. We wish everyone concerned the very best of luck in whatever they choose to undertake next.
Sunday, 15 September 2013
Like all historical novelists, I do a ton of research for my books. Full disclosure – I am not a historian, I use the internet for research, and I fudge my dates. Still, there’s a lot of information that I’ve learned over the years that paints a fascinating portrait of life on the western frontier and I thought I’d share some of that with you.
(This post mostly deals with food, since that is a topic of near-universal interest. If you’d like to hear more about sheep breeding, dry land farming, and/or what gunfights and prostitution was really like in the old west (spoiler: not like it is in my books), let me know. I always enjoy rambling about research.)
The first thing to know is that food choices and availability varied wildly between the eastern costal states and the rest of the country. In the east, food was abundant and remarkably varied, with one restaurant serving over 200 different kinds of meat (each cut of meat from an animal was counted separately, and in addition to standard livestock, they also served squirrel, opossum, venison, and other wild game). The land was fertile and water was plentiful, which meant large crop yields, and the north-south stretch of the coastline covered a large temperature range, allowing for a wide variety of different crops to be grown.
Once you got past the eastern mountain ranges, however, finding adequate food supplies grew significantly more challenging. The land was fertile, but dry, which limited crop yields and variety, and the lack of easy transportation for the earlier half of the century meant that getting supplies from other locations was difficult, if not impossible.
One of the most fascinating articles I’ve ever read about food in the 1800s can be found here (http://www.oregonpioneers.com/FoodChoices.htm). Most interesting for me is the standard list of supplies carried on the Oregon Trail. A lot of what you’d expect is on the list (flour, beans, bacon), but there are some practical items that I’d never thought of, including baking soda (called saleratus at the time) and dried fruit (which was much more commonplace and cheaper then than it is now).
The full list: flour, pilot bread, bacon, rice, coffee, tea, sugar, dried beans, dried fruit, saleratus [baking soda], salt, corn meal, ground corn, vinegar.
This list is pretty much my pantry when writing my books (where everyone lives conveniently close to a supply town:), but the reality is that many of these items wouldn’t be available to the average frontier family. For them, the bulk of their supplies would come from their vegetable garden, from the animals that they hunted, and from the wild plants that they gathered. Salt was absolutely vital for the preservation of meat and vegetables, while sugar was necessary to make dried fruit palatable (and often played a part in preserving as well).
As for the luxuries: coffee came in the form of green, unroasted beans. They would be roasted and ground right before being either simmered in the cook pan or, in the latter part of the century, brewed in percolators. Chocolate was actually available as early as the late 1700s, in some parts of the country (read: east coast), and by 1850 it was available on both coasts. Surprisingly enough, it was sometimes found on the Oregon Trail, where some wagons carried the makings of hot chocolate, though it more closely resembled coffee than it did today’s hot chocolate. Canned foods first became readily available in the latter part of the century, with the first modern-day can opener patented in the 1860s and both Borden and Campbell’s opening up canning factories in the decades immediately after.
In general, food on the western frontier was fatty, salty, and high in calories. The hard work that they had to put in just to feed themselves, however, meant that many families struggled just to meet their basic calorie needs. For them, that simple list of trail supplies would have been a feast to remember.
Follow Jane on Twitter: @IMJaneElliot
Friday, 6 September 2013
"The obstacles this pair had to overcome lost their importance, the victory over them lost its shine, and the most intense scene in the entire story that should have been when Keret finally gives himself willingly to Lucius, was barely touched in the haste of telling the tale."
Monday, 2 September 2013
Picking Barcellona has setting for the novel is again a perfect choice, the Barrio Antico and the Ramblas are a mix of modern and ancient, that well reflect the development of the story: the time is a near future, 2042, but the theme is a classical gothic one, vampires.
I would dare to say that, while you will for sure enjoying reading the whole series, Fool’s Rush has all the merits to be also a perfect standalone novel.
We're sure that all those readers - and there are plenty of you - who like their M/M romance with a strong plot and a supernatural twist will be queueing up to agree with Elisa on this one!
Sunday, 1 September 2013
Meanwhile, we will shortly be uploading the last of our titles to Smashwords (we'll let you know when we have), and we're busy preparing the two books we'll be publishing on 1 November - the details of which will be announced here on 1 October, so watch this space!
Tuesday, 27 August 2013
SEA CHANGE by Chris Quinton
SOLEMN CONTRACT by Morgan Cheshire
STAGE WHISPERS by Adam Fitzroy
THE DEFINITIVE ALBERT J. STERNE by Julie Bozza
We are hoping to upload the final batch of titles at the beginning of September (fingers crossed!) and from then onwards our books will be uploaded to Smashwords whenever they are also uploaded to our other distribution partners. In other words, we've almost caught up with ourselves and we hope things will be a little bit smoother in future.
(Well, there's nothing the matter with optimism, is there???)
Friday, 16 August 2013
I would like to highlight that it’s not mandatory that every story involving two gay characters has to be a romance, I prefer that, but it’s not mandatory; in a way, this is the ending of a past romance and the beginning of a future one. The strength of Fitzroy, and this novel, lies in the characters and setting, both of them very English-style, both of them carefully crafted.
Probably quite unnecessary at this stage to say that we feel exactly the same way; in fact, 'romance is preferable but not necessary' sums up the Manifold Press ethos rather nicely, and it's very rewarding to know that some of our readers agree with us about that. Thank you again, Elisa, we're very glad you enjoyed it!
Wednesday, 14 August 2013
Only with an English setting and probably only an English author, or at least one that knows very well the customs of that country, can write a story about tea, crumpets and supernatural being.
Sounds as if she enjoyed it, too - thank you, Elisa!
Tuesday, 13 August 2013
This story is very complicated but in a good way. None of these characters are your average character and this is far from a sweet storybook romance, but I found it fabulous. I couldn’t put it down once I started.
We'd have to agree that this is nothing like an 'average' book (if there actually is such a thing!) and we're very glad that it's finding such an appreciative readership.
Friday, 9 August 2013
The novel is wonderfully successful at creating the relentless graft of farming and restrictive small town life in the Montana of the mid 1860′s. This is not a pretty fictional western. The everyday details of blood, sweat and tears were managed with skill and without me feeling like a turkey overwhelmed by historical stuffing.
The review's summary also praises the book's '[h]ard edged historical realism with a warm hearted centre and some determinedly creative kinkiness', which is pretty much our own assessment of MONTANA RED - so congratulations to Jane for making such a good impression on the reviewer!
Thursday, 1 August 2013
In case anyone's missed the advance brouhaha (unlikely, we know!) Cimorene Ross's THE EAGLE’S WING, set in Northern Europe during the second century CE, tells the entertaining story of Decurion Lucius Valerius Carus and the heathen slave, Keret, whom he buys on a whim. If you’re looking for a restrained, easy-going romance with a solidly-researched historical background, this could well be the book for you!
By contrast Jane Elliot's MONTANA RED is set against the background of the Old West; it details the adventures of the hapless Henry, when he accidentally falls into the hands of Red and his friends in the fascinating and secretive gay sub-culture of the nineteenth century. It's a little spicier than most of our titles, and we're certain it will be a great hit!
Anyone who collects statistics will be interested (but surely not surprised) to know that Julie's THE APOTHECARY'S GARDEN is still selling in phenomenal numbers and was our overall best-seller for July. The picture for sales on the website was far more diffuse, with no overall top seller and Julie and Adam Fitzroy coming in equal as best-selling authors; it's been a very odd month like that!
However, now we at Megaheadquarters can take a deep breath, gird up our loins (we might even stiffen the sinews and summon up the blood, if we can find the energy!), and start thinking in slightly more detail about our two 1 November publications. No rest for the wicked, you know ... and we're pretty sure that includes us!
Monday, 29 July 2013
Josie Goodreads at Mrs Condit and Friends Read Books clearly enjoyed Cimorene Ross's debut novel THE EAGLE'S WING:
The Eagles Wing is the timeless story of two men from different walks of life growing to love one another, learning about each other. Together they face the challenges that their respective positions, and Keret’s past bring to them, there is a small amount of action and adventure but the plot moves at a very leisurely place, never really deviating from the main two characters.
It’s obvious the author has heavily researched the Roman period and the level of detail shows in every page. I loved The Eagles Wing and defy anyone who loves historical character based stories about trust, loyalty and how far someone will go for the one they love not to love it too.
That's a wonderful start, and we heartily congratulate Cimorene on making such an impression on her first-ever reviewer!
Friday, 19 July 2013
Those of you who buy .pdfs will notice a change in format this time; we've gone for a larger page size to tie in with the new cover size we're going to be introducing. Over the next few months we'll be retrofitting all our existing .pdf files to bring them up to the same standard - after which, we hope not to have to change again for quite a while! (If at all.)
We'd also like to take this opportunity to mention that those of you buying Cimorene Ross's debut novel THE EAGLE'S WING will discover that there's a little more to the file than just the story. We've decided to include a couple of glossaries - one of general terms, one of specific people and places - for anyone who may not be completely familiar with the Romans and the way they did things. There's also a family tree so that you can keep track of Lucius Valerius Carus's many relatives. These take up a very small proportion of the page-count and we had briefly considered producing them as a separate supplement, but in the end we decided to package everything together for the sake of convenience. We hope that some of you will find this useful, and the rest will not find it too annoying!
And now the Press is going to have a brief break to recover from all this frantic activity and prepare itself for publication of our two new books on August 1st!
Monday, 15 July 2013
A Paean to WikipediaI love Wikipedia. I may have mentioned that already in my blog. A few times. But it bears repeating! And I’m sure there are some likeminded folk out there reading this right now…
Just the other day my husband and I were watching an episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit when they mentioned ‘the Dark Net’ – you know, where all the really nasty stuff is kept. “They’re just making that up!” I scoff. Bruce promptly hauls his laptop over, and a few taps later he says, “Actually, there’s a page on Wikipedia…” I totally LOL’d.
I was fascinated to find related Wikipedia articles on:
- a Darknet, which is a network where only trusted peers can interact, and can do so anonymously. Wikipedia suggests that ‘Darknets are often associated with dissident political communications and illegal activities’, so I’m guessing that’s what the SVU were investigating; and
- the Dark
Internet, which refers to computers or networks that
are deliberately not connected to the Internet, or are so obsolete
as to not be able to connect.
Perhaps my favourite page ever is Toilet paper orientation – a page so long and detailed that it includes nine sections titled Context and relevance, Preliminaries, Arguments, Survey results, Themes (three subheadings), Consequences, Similar controversies, Solutions (two subheadings) and Noted preferences. Not to mention a raft of endnotes and references… You won’t find a pesky little ‘This article needs additional citations’ warning here! Someone took this topic very very seriously indeed.
As well they might. This is serious stuff. I stumbled across the article while writing my novel The Apothecary’s Garden in which Hilary, a lifelong loner, is coming to terms with sharing his home with Tom. ‘Now,’ I wondered, ‘what are the issues they’d face…?’ I replied immediately, of course. I didn’t have to look far at all for an answer. ‘They hang the toilet paper rolls in opposite directions!!!’ There was more total LOL’ing. ‘Perfect,’ I respond, high–fiving myself.
You may well be nodding to indicate your deep understanding of this issue right now. If you’re not, well… all I can say is that Bruce and I moved into our current home over eight years ago. Neither bathroom nor en suite had a toilet roll holder when we moved in. And (despite some desultory shopping efforts way back when) they still don’t. The toilet roll sits on a nearby shelf instead, and it doesn’t matter which way up it’s standing. It’s arrangements like this that save marriages, I tell you!
In any case, I needed to know what terms to actually use to describe the different orientations, so I Googled something that must have been appropriate, for the relevant Wikipedia article was listed first in the search results. What more could I possibly need to know about the matter?
Like any encyclopaedia (or dictionary or thesaurus), it’s hard to stop at just one titbit of information… and of course those hyperlinks make it all too easy to browse your winding way through some of the four million articles… until you overload your short–term memory and entirely forget what you were looking for in the first place.
Beware the home page! It tempts you hither and thither with a featured article, current news–related articles, ‘Did you know…’ questions from the newest content, and ‘On this day…’ snippets as well.
Which is how I found out that Liu Rushi (1618–1664) was a famous courtesan and poet in the late Ming dynasty, who ‘embarked on a campaign to marry the respected scholar Qian Qianyi’ by dressing in men’s clothing and asking him his opinion on one of her poems. Within a year she’d moved in, they were together until he died, and their poetry was published together as well as separately. Wikipedia notes that ‘her affinity for cross–dressing persisted after they were married … on occasion [she] made calls on her husband’s behalf whilst dressed in his Confucian robes’. What an awesome pair they must have been!
From any Wikipedia page you can click on the Random article link, which might lead you anywhere else. Which is a useful way to introduce my last example, because I cannot for the life of me remember how I stumbled across it. I was very pleased I did, though!
The article is titled Competent man, and it describes ‘a stock character [male or female] who can do anything perfectly, or at least exhibits a very wide range of abilities and knowledge, making him a form of polymath’. This isn’t a concept I knew about when I wrote The Definitive Albert J Sterne, but it was such a joy to find the article, as that is exactly what I had in mind for Albert himself.
Albert isn’t mentioned in the Wikipedia article, mind you! Cited examples include the well–loved Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings, and the awesome Buckaroo Banzai, along with the somewhat more expected Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, and The Doctor from Doctor Who.
What really cracked me up here, however, was serendipitously discovering The Most Interesting Man in the World, a character in an advertising campaign for beer, who is ‘a bearded, debonair gentleman in his 70s’ (bless his silk socks). Outrageous tales of his youthful derring–do are recounted in a dryly humorous style. I’m laughing just re–reading the article! (And while we’re here, I also love how these off–beat topics are somehow made to fit into the encyclopaedic template. The Most Interesting Man’s occupation is listed as ‘Advisor’.)
On that droll note, it’s time for one last random article… which in this case is the disambiguation for Salivary nuclei… And I didn’t know I needed to know that! Thank you once more, Wikipedia. I doff my hat.
Wednesday, 10 July 2013
Again, it's a slightly difficult review to quote from, but we enjoyed this bit:
I really enjoyed the book both on a visceral and intellectual level. Those only looking for the former might be frustrated that we aren’t given the story in traditional format, but I doubt the theme could have been explored so effectively if we were.
It's always a treat when someone - especially a fellow-author - really gets what you're driving at; it makes all the hard work and the solitary hours of planning suddenly seem worthwhile, somehow!
Congratulations to Julie, and our thanks to A.B. Gayle.
Monday, 8 July 2013
So it’s not a historical novel, but it really isn’t a romance either. I’m sure there are other people out there who disagree with me and who find this love story utterly charming in its restraint. The restraint matches the time period well, of course, and I actually liked the way the communication between the main characters was so very stiff upper lip.
It's true that some readers will find ALWAYS WITH US rather milder fare than they're used to - but we're assured that there are indeed a number of readers out there who prefer a more decorous and slower-burning type of story development, and we're very sorry that we were unable to meet this particular reader's expectations.
Tuesday, 2 July 2013
It's a little difficult to pick out a quote - you'll understand why, if you read the review - but we especially liked this line:
This isn’t a romance, but it is a love story. Not romantic love but deeper, more meaningful love.
It's the ultimate compliment for a writer when another practitioner of the same craft can spare time from a busy schedule (all writers are busy, by definition!) to comment on their book, and in this case the praise that's heaped on Albert's head - and Julie's, too, of course - is in our opinion entirely merited.
Our best-seller for June through the Press website was Adam's BETWEEN NOW AND THEN, but for the second month running the highest-selling title overall has been Jane's oustandingly popular ABOVE ALL.
We've uploaded our previous two titles - Morgan Cheshire's ALWAYS WITH US and Julie Bozza's highly-acclaimed THE APOTHECARY'S GARDEN - to our partner sites, Rainbow, All Romance, Kindle and Smashwords, and THE APOTHECARY'S GARDEN is also now available in a Print on Demand paperback edition.
For anyone still interested in monitoring our response times - which we record on a routine basis - the average for the three months to 1 July was 5 hours and 45 minutes.
- - -
Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that the covers for our new books differ slightly in format from the ones we've been using up until now. Over the next few months we'll be introducing a new set of covers across the board (including to Smashwords, where we'll eventually replace the temporary ones). In most cases the difference will be extremely subtle - a new font, and a slightly different crop of the image - although unfortunately with both Julie's THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH and Chris FOOL'S ERRAND we've been unable to get hold of higher-resolution versions of the original picture and have had to do the best we can with the nearest equivalent. The plan at the moment is to have all these new covers rolled out everywhere on or before 1 November, however, so watch this space!
Monday, 1 July 2013
Cimorene Ross is an old friend of ours with an interest in historical subjects, and has only recently been prevailed upon to join our ranks. Her first book is THE EAGLE'S WING, set in Northern Europe during the second century CE, which tells the entertaining story of Decurion Lucius Valerius Carus and the heathen slave, Keret, whom he buys on a whim. If you're looking for a restrained, easy-going romance with a solidly-researched historical background, this could well be the book for you!
Our second offering this time is very different in tone; it, too, is set in the past, but that's where the similarities end! Not only is the author's name - Jane Elliot - a familiar one, but MONTANA RED is set against the background of the Old West; it details the adventures of the hapless Henry, when he accidentally falls into the hands of Red and his friends in the fascinating and secretive gay sub-culture of the nineteenth century.
We think you'll agree that these two titles alone live up to our policy of providing as wide a variety of m/m fiction as we possibly can, to cater to all tastes; whether you're more interested in slow-burning romance or a no-holds-barred exploration of gay sexuality, this is definitely where you'll find it!
Thursday, 27 June 2013
DEAR MISTER PRESIDENT
END OF THE TRAIL
and Chris's FOOLS trilogy in its entirety:
These should all be available immediately from the Smashwords site, and in due course from all their other associated outlets.
Meanwhile, look out for news of our two 1 August titles, which will be released on Monday!
Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Beautiful and descriptive, Julie took me on a literary journey through the Australian Outback. To magical and enchanting places, but getting there was an adventure. As Charlie says,
This for me was the beauty of the whole story, the most amazing things happen when you're not looking for them.
And there's also something magical, we believe, about the mysterious process by which a book inevitably finds its way to a reader who will really appreciate it. We're not sure we completely understand how that works, but we're very glad indeed that it keeps on happening. Congratulations, Julie!
Saturday, 22 June 2013
ABOVE ALL by Jane Elliot
ALOES by Chris Quinton
BETWEEN NOW AND THEN by Adam Fitzroy
(Yes, we're working in alphabetical order; it does tend to make life easier!)
You'll notice that for the time being they're in unfamiliar temporary covers - although still, we hope, recognisably Manifold Press in design. This is because of the size/resolution requirements imposed by the 'Smashwords Premium Catalog' which in due course (we imagine it takes a little while to filter through) will mean that our books are available in outlets such as Apple (distribution to iBookstores in 51 countries), Barnes & Noble (US and UK), Sony, Kobo, WH Smith in the UK and FNAC (both powered by Kobo), Livraria Cultura in Brazil (powered by Kobo), the Diesel eBook Store, eBooks Eros (operated by Diesel), Baker & Taylor (Blio and the Axis360 library service), Page Foundry (operates retail sites Inktera.com and Versent.com; operates Android ebook store apps for Cricket Wireless and Asus), and other distribution outlets coming soon.
We hope by the end of the year to be able to update all our covers, both on Smashwords and elsewhere, to the larger format preferred by Smashwords, as it seems to be becoming the standard requirement across all platforms. This is going to take a little time to prepare, however, and our intention is to wait until everything is ready and then update them all at once.
We'll gradually be adding Smashwords buy links to the website, of course, and will notify everybody through our Blog and LJ when additional titles become available.
Saturday, 15 June 2013
I enjoyed this story. Not only the main characters but the secondary characters were very well written as well. It is written with a very heavy British influence in terms of the writing style and some of the phrases were totally new to me but I had no problem understanding them in the context of the story. Overall, a very well written story with a nice time travel twist.
Well, we certainly can't argue about the absolute 'Britishness' of the book, but we're very glad that the unfamiliar language wasn't enough to prevent Artemis from enjoying the story!
There was a long gap between the publishing of Fool's Oath, the second in the Fool's Odyssey trilogy, and Fool's Rush. People have asked me why over the intervening months. I had the plot all worked out, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the various arcs, so what the hell happened? The answer is simple and summed up in one name: Xavi.
Picture the scene - versions of which occurred over and over again and ended up with Fool's Rush sitting on the back burner for months -
Okay, I think, poised over my keyboard. This is the chapter where I can get deeper into Andreas' head and bring in lots more about the situation back in the States. That way I can—
*No,* says the voice in my head. There's a distinct impression of sharp elbows stuck out, heels dug in and a tantrum on its way. *No way.*
"Oh, yes," I say aloud. The dogs on my bed twitch their ears and roll over. "I'm writing this bloody story, not you, sunshine."
*I'm living this bloody story,* he snaps, arms folded over his nicely muscled chest, his golden eyes glaring angrily. God, he does 'smolder' so well! *It's all about me! How long did you spend building my back-story? Pages of detail that'll never appear in the story just to make me real? For fuck's sake, woman! Stick to your own agenda!*
"I am!" I bite back. "That's exactly what I'm doing! So you are going to sit down and shut up and let me spend some time with Andreas! Wait your turn, you little shit!" The dogs raise their heads and stare at me. Had I said 'walk'? Or 'treat' Then Rain flops back onto the cushions and Hazel hops down to steal one of my shoes and I have to charge after her to rescue it. There are no treats on offer and no walk either. The Mad Woman is just talking to herself again. "It is A Cunning Plan! I've got the chapters mapped out, remember? This story is as much about Andreas as you, it's his journey as well—"
*You aren't listening to me!* It's a hiss, and I wonder if he's actually going to stamp his foot. *Read my profile! I start out as a street rat and end up as a fucking vampire with a lover I wouldn't trade for all the gold in the world! What's the name of the trilogy? FOOL'S ODYSSEY! And the fool is me, right? So to hell with the political situation in America! And your mapped chapters!* He spits that last bit out as if it's something obscene.
"No!" I yell.
*Yes!* he yells louder, and he has that mulish expression on his face I know means that neither heaven nor hell will drag him from his chosen course.
He's right, of course. I've committed one of the cardinal sins of writing. I stopped listening to my characters.
I give in ungraciously, snarl a lot and grab my notebook. I take myself off to my local coffee shop and do some serious re-plotting... The end result is that Fool's Rush completes Xavi's journey in exactly the way it should, and I have chunks of text lying around waiting to be reworked.
Characters. Those insistent voices in your head that won't shut up, won't go away. It doesn't matter where they sprang from. The moment they appear in your skull demanding you write their story, they are yours in a unique way that no one can take from you. It doesn't matter if they have a physical resemblance to your Uncle George or Aunt Fanny, or to actors on the TV or cinema screen, or to characters in your favorite novels. The back-stories you give them, the plot arcs you create, the research you do, make them yours. All you have to do is listen to them. Which isn't always as easy as it sounds.
Which brings me to the skirmishing that seems to start every so often - more so since 50 Shades hit the mainstream. Fan fiction and the reworking of same for publication and sale as original work. People get on their high horses and shout their opinions - others shout back, refusing to be cowed.
Why the fuss? Inspiration comes from everywhere. It's just as valid if it's a scene on the screen, your favourite actor's [rather stunning] green eyes, or a conversation overheard at the bus stop. It may seem at first that you're streaming the character - let's call him Billy Bloggs - but no writer worth their salt can leave the displayed details alone. Why does Billy react the way he does to given situations - has the show/film/book/explained that at all? No? Or not sufficiently? Then you create the psychological reasons. You research, you build a family tree, family relationships, things that perhaps will never appear in the story, but form layer upon layer of Billy's personality. You place him or her in situations far removed from the show/film/book, and most of the hard work - and it is hard work - of writing a story has been done. Change the names, any of the remaining borrowed background, and you have a piece of original fiction. It may even - horror of horrors - actually be better than the show/film/book that struck the original spark.
Now it seems that Amazon has recognised the worth of fan fiction - or perhaps the profit it could glean from it. (Read more here, if you haven't already.)
Where does that leave those who shout against the sale of fan fiction, saying that those writers shouldn't profit from other people's work? In the same situation of those who write it - mostly eyeing Amazon with some suspicion!
Monday, 10 June 2013
The story of Nicholas’s quest for – obsession with – the mysterious blue butterfly, was charming and compelling. Nicholas himself is an utter love, and needs many cuddles :) . Dave is a nice guy, if not particularly interesting to me, and has his own demons to slay. His ex-girlfriend (from childhood even!) Denise is a supportive friend without tipping over into tiresome yenta territory. The book is competently written and edited, and Bozza does make a decent fist at comedic lines. The growing relationship between Nicholas and Dave is very sweet, and if you like sex in your romance, there’s plenty of it and nicely written too.
On the basis that you can't please all of the people all of the time, we're very glad that she enjoyed BUTTERFLY HUNTER enough to want to review it!
Friday, 7 June 2013
Morgan Cheshire’s Always With Us hit just the right spot. The writing is elegant and gentle. The characters of Daniel and Harrison are perfectly set in the time of the story; at no time did I ever not think I was in Victorian England.
Biased as we undoubtedly are in Morgan's favour, we can't help thinking that every word of this was fully merited; well done, Morgan, and thank you Josie Goodreads!
Thursday, 6 June 2013
We're delighted to report that we've just had our best month's sales ever, largely due to strong interest in three of our titles in particular.
Julie's new book THE APOTHECARY'S GARDEN broke all records for direct sales from our website, selling five times as many copies as its nearest rival, whereas over on Kindle Jane's ABOVE ALL outsold everything else by a very similar margin! Meanwhile, the Cup Final special offer on R.A. Padmos's RAVAGES also sold very strongly, although spread across all platforms rather than concentrated in one place.
We'd like to apologise for not alerting people sooner that a further three titles were uploaded to Kindle in the middle of the month. These were:
BETWEEN NOW AND THEN by Adam Fitzroy*
FOOL'S RUSH by Chris Quinton*
THE DEVIL IN DEAD HORSE by Jane Elliot*
Unfortunately, we got rather swamped with other matters and it escaped our attention. Anyway this brings us up to date with our back catalogue, and we will be uploading the next two titles on 1 July.
[*As usual, these are Amazon.co.uk links; we're quite sure you can figure out the rest for yourselves!]
Julie's new book THE APOTHECARY'S GARDEN was reviewed on Bittersweet Reviews on 27 May, but we've only just heard about it; our apologies to both Julie and the reviewer for not being a lot more on the ball!
Bozza’s prose is beautiful and has a dream like quality similar to Butterfly Hunter which may be why I liked it so much. The book literally starts with the words “Once upon a time” which I will admit made my heart sink a little but once the setting is established, the writing becomes more intimate and I was quickly drawn into Hilary’s world.
More importantly, Bozza has set her readers a challenge with this book and that is to open their minds to the idea that love can exist for two people who are generations apart and it shouldn’t really matter.
THE APOTHECARY'S GARDEN will be available on Kindle and from our partner sites, Rainbow and AllRomance, from 1 July.
Saturday, 11 May 2013
I really loved both guys in this book. Hilary was such a sweetheart and it was really a sweet and gentle read overall. Almost nothing happens in this book besides them meeting, restoring a garden together and slowly, so very slowly, moving towards each other. The conflict is about Hilary worrying over him being so much older than Tom. You really have to like slow moving books if you want to enjoy this one, where the two characters are figuring out their relationship and whether they would have one.
We can't argue with that; the slow and gentle development of the relationship is one of this book's great charms, in our opinion - it's the perfect book to read under a shady tree on a sunny day, and let's hope that we'll eventually get the kind of summer that will do it full justice!
Tuesday, 7 May 2013
ABOVE ALL by Jane Elliot
FOX HUNT by Chris Quinton
MAKE DO AND MEND by Adam Fitzroy
The above links are all to Amazon.co.uk but we're sure you can work out the details for yourselves!
Sunday, 5 May 2013
Manifold Press Twitter Q+A on 4 May 2013
Manifold Press held its first Twitter Q+A on 4 May – on a Saturday evening for the UK and the Saturday morning for the west coast of the US. It was very lively, and I’m sure we’ll be doing it again!
The date was chosen to coincide with the release of two new titles on 1 May: Always With Us by Morgan Cheshire, and The Apothecary’s Garden by Julie Bozza.
Manifold Press participants were authors Julie Bozza @juliebozza, Jane Elliot @IMJaneElliot, Adam Fitzroy @AdamFitzroy and the Press itself @ManifoldPressUK.
We are very grateful to @AtlantaHiker, @charliecochrane, @SRinglever, @stellaemrys and especially @ShellPeart for asking some great questions!
The following is a ‘transcript’ of the Q+A, wrangled into some kind of order, with some of the Twitter!speak translated into English, with added punctuation. We hope you enjoy it all as much as we did!
The anticipation builds…
Jane Elliot @IMJaneElliot: 10 minutes to the #ManifoldPress Q&A with me, @juliebozza and @AdamFitzroy! My first twitter Q&A -- I'm aflutter with nerves :)
Jonah McD @Atlantahiker: Hey @IMJaneElliot! Looking forward to your Q&A!
Jane: Thank you! (Also glad to see you here :)
Adam Fitzroy @AdamFitzroy: I’m here, poised over my keyboard …
Julie Bozza @juliebozza: I'm present but not necessarily accounted for ! :-D
Manifold Press @ManifoldPressUK: The #ManifoldPress Q&A begins right…about…NOW!
And they’re off!
Jane: I actually have a question for the other authors: how do you write? Short intense bursts (like me) or a little bit every day?
Adam: A little (sometimes a lot) every day, usually starting at about 6.30 a.m.; sometimes I can write later in the day, but rarely!
Jane: I used to be that way (except in the evening). Now I have kicks where I write 18 hours a day and then nothing for days!
Julie: I think my best work comes in short intense bursts - but Real Life demands mean I mostly settle for a bit every day.
Jane: I should probably try to write every day. Short bursts are great -- except when you haven't written anything in months!
Julie: At the risk of being inappropriate: 'Short intense bursts' or a slow hand…? Very apt question for the genre! ;-)
Adam: Tsk tsk, and there was me trying to be all sensible…
Jane: *pbbblt* It's good there's at least one mature person in this chat :)
Julie: Sorr-rry. Note to all our readers: I'm the inappropriate Aussie in this group!
Jane: Well, I'm the one blowing raspberries on the internet, so "inappropriate" might be a relative term :) … Though, now that I think about it, I should totally get the title for "most inappropriate book" :) #MontanaRed
Julie: Sounds like a challenge I'm willing to take on! (Though to be honest I have little hope of winning…)
Adam: Jane, I'd like to know why you think it's 'inappropriate'???
Jane: Kink, baby. It's all about the kink :)
Adam: But given the genre that we're writing in, it doesn't seem all that inappropriate to me…
Jane receives a proper question!
Jonah McD: What has the reaction been to your wholesome, fairly monogamous characters in your End Of the Trail books?
Jane: Overall good, though a few folks have complained about a lack of action in the original and too much action in the sequel :)
Shell leads off with a doozy!
Michelle Peart @ShellPeart: What do you think makes good writing?
Jane: You don't pull any punches! For me it mostly boils down to authentic characters and real emotional impact. Those are my kinks :)
Julie: Hello, Shell! ♥ Great question! I aim for engaging characters, interesting setting, decent plot, and accuracy + clarity in my prose. … How would you answer your own question, Shell? Then I'll try to do more of that. :-)
Shell: Good clear descriptions, likeable characters, decent pace and unique angle…!!?
Julie: Sounds good to me! I think I heard you're doing some writing yourself…? Tell us a little about that?
Shell: Eeeeek! *flounders* Well I'm doing a basics writing course but I did get 93/100 for my first module!! *faints*
Julie: Well done you! Sounds like you know what you're doing!
Adam: What makes a good writer? Patience and persistence, IMHO. (Or 'Never give up, never surrender!')
Another from Jane for her fellow authors…
Jane: Of all of the books and characters you've written, which are your favorites? Adam: I still have huge affection for 'Stage Whispers', although I don't necessarily think it's my best book.
Julie: Albert (the first character of mine to come alive), Nicholas+Dave (they belong together), and Hilary (I just love him).
And one from the Press, with Charlie weighing in!
Manifold Press: I have a question for our authors: where do you get your plots?
Jane: From my dirty, dirty imagination :) … More seriously, I usually start with a character / trope / relationship that interests me and go from there.
Adam: In all sorts of odd places - from history, and from the depths of a murky imagination. … Jane, yes, it's the same with me; I like an unusual relationship dynamic - bold guy/shy guy for example.
Julie: I start with an idea or spark, find the characters, then look for a plot. So it grows out of different things.
Charlie Cochrane @charliecochrane: Adam - football + WW1 - where did that idea arise? Adam: A trip to the WWI battlefields a few years ago and speculating about fellow travellers. … Also, people don't really change, do they? Hopes, dreams, fears are all pretty constant.
Charlie: Yep, I believe that things don't change. Like WWI soldiers slagging off the Daily Mail - even then!
Adam: It's always the food, or the boots, or the beds, or the rain … or the bosses of course!
Charlie: Yep. Have you read The Final Whistle? Brilliant non-fiction about WWI.
Adam: No, not seen that one. Is it about 'The Christmas Truce'?
Charlie: No, it's about some of the rugby players who died in the conflict. Very interesting.
Shell has another one…
Shell: Where is your favourite place for thinking?
Jane: When I'm walking (good) and when I'm in bed, trying to sleep and failing (bad) :)
Julie: There's thinking…? ;-) The demands of life mean this can be quite random. I guess mostly in my study, though…
Adam: In my study, sitting at my desk. My brain doesn't work as well anywhere else.
Adam chips in with one for Jane and Julie
Adam: So how much, if at all, do you brainstorm with other people during the writing process?
Jane: If I could find someone, I'd brainstorm every time -- I love discussing ideas! … Unfortunately, I've struggled to find a brainstorming partner, so usually I develop ideas solo.
Adam: I have a couple of really reliable people, thank goodness, and they'll tell me if I'm going wrong…
Julie: I'm an independent sod when writing, so not much. But I ask my husband, sister or fellow #ManifoldPress authors when I need to.
Adam: I lean on Morgan Cheshire a lot, of course, and she leans right back; it's very reassuring to be 'companions in adversity'…
Julie: I love your writing, and Morgan's too, so this is obviously a great working partnership!
Adam: Or a folie a deux!
Shell cuts right to the chase…
Shell: Julie - erm - Do you find you have to be in a ‘certain’ mood to write ‘certain’ scenes?
Jane: Cutting in, but -- usually writing 'certain' scenes will put me in a 'certain' mood rather than vice versa :)
Julie: LOL! Not necessarily… though I might end up that way afterwards! ;-) … Seriously, there's hopefully other things going on re the characters and the story, so the focus isn't always on the choreography…
And here’s the big one!
Shell: So… this old cookie… What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
Julie: A writer writes. Learn by doing. Never give up. Listen to feedback; be true to your vision. Find your voice. … P.S. That might be the best stab at wisdom I've ever made! And on Twitter, too. :-) Thank you for asking. ♥
Jane gets practical
Jane: When does the next round of books go up on Amazon?
Manifold Press: Very soon, we hope! They're currently under review.
Shell gets creative
Shell: If you met your favourite author what question would you ask him/her?
Jane: Robin McKinley: "Why is there no sequel to Sunshine?!"
Julie: 'Would you marry me?' (Only he'd say no, of course, because he loved Fanny Brawne so much…)
Jane: Alternatively: "Miss Austen, what do you think about the popularity of Fanny/Henry fanfic?" … For clarification, what Austen would think of folks who ship Fanny and Henry.
Julie: I'd love to talk to Jane Austen about how she invented the modern (non-Gothic) novel. Where'd that come from…?
Shell asks another big one…
Shell: How do you beat writers block? Sorry I'm completely bombarding you!!
Julie: And we love you for it! ♥ I imagine our commissioning editor has her eye on you now! :-D … If the writer’s block is due to a lack of confidence, then I grit my teeth + somehow keep going. … However, it can indicate you need to do extra research, thought, planning. Or you've gone wrong somehow. Listen to the characters!
We hear from the lovely Stella!
Stella @stellaemrys: What is your ultimate writerly dream? :-)
Julie: Hey there, Stella! ♥ I'd love to see a film made of one of my novels - especially if I had a say in casting. :-) … However, that's about as unlikely as winning the Booker Prize! (Which has been my dream in the past.)
Jane: To make enough in royalties to live on (or at least work part time :)
Adam: Same as Julie’s - a movie; got the director and most of the cast picked out!
Stella: Well, Julie, you never know! Which of your novels would you choose and whom would you cast?
Julie: I'd be torn between my Keats novel, Butterfly Hunter, and The Apothecary's Garden. I’m wary about talking about who I'd cast … because I like readers to imagine the faces rather than be told. (However, Ben Whishaw makes a fine Keats!)
Stella: I'd love to see any of those on film :-) And that's a very good point! …'The truth of the imagination…'
Julie: A good Keats quote can justify anything! :-) I know you know my dream cast. ;-)
Another doozy from Shell
Shell: What inspires/motivates you to write?
Julie: I'm happiest when I'm writing so I can't not do it. Not any more! Also, it's the way I think or work through things.
Adam: Me too. Writing is so much easier than 'not writing' …
Jane: The more accurate question is what *doesn't* inspire me -- I have more story ideas than I know what to do with.
Shell: Weirdly for a beginner… I have found that I am happy when I'm writing!! BTW Writerly dream… Easy Peasy… to be published!
Julie: That's great! That's the way it should be. Occasionally soul-wrenching. Mostly happy! LOL!
Jane: Best Life Motto Ever: @juliebozza "That's the way it should be. Occasionally soul-wrenching. Mostly happy! LOL!”
Julie: Hee! Glad that nailed it for you! :-)
Jane chips in with a doozy of her own!
Jane: What are your thoughts on fanfiction?
Adam: The best of it is very good indeed, better than pro fiction. The worst? Yuk. … Or do you mean fan fiction of our own stuff? Because that would just be awesome.
Jane: I didn't think of that, but that would absolutely KICK ASS :)
Adam: Except that being fan authors they'd break up all the pairs and slash people with the 'wrong' partners…
Jane: That would be the best part for me -- I love reading non-canon pairings :)
Julie: Love it. Fandom is where I learned to write; I still write fan fiction. I will be overjoyed if/when there's fan fic of my work!
Jane: Same here -- there's nothing more valuable for a beginning author than a ready audience.
Adam: I never quite understand some pro authors being so anti fanfic; it always seems so petty to me.
Jane: I think a lot of it depends on whether they ever wrote fanfic themselves. It seems to be getting more accepted.
Adam: Yes, thank goodness - and writing itself is less of an ivory-tower thing than it used to be.
Another good one from Shell!
Shell: What is your favourite thing you've written?
Jane: To date: Devil in Dead Horse. I always like my newer books more than my backlist.
Julie: I think Butterfly Hunter, though I'm very proud of The Apothecary's Garden. Different answers on different days!
Adam: It's like loving all your children equally but in different ways - according to personality etc.
Julie: Ah! Yes, Adam's nailed that one…. Also, having just launched The Apothecary’s Garden, it's riding high for me at the mo.
Shell: Is there going to be a Butterfly Hunter sequel? Hope so!
Julie: Yes, I'm about halfway through a first draft of the sequel. The pressure's on, as it's been my most successful title!
Shell: Don't feel the pressure, just be yourself and it will happen as it's supposed to :-)
Julie: Ah, thank you! That's truly excellent advice. ♥
Adam weighs in…
Adam: Can you work on more than one story at a time? I find I'm collecting ideas for about a dozen.
Jane: I can, but common themes tend to appear in both books -- I notice them, if no one else does.
Julie: I do best if the actual writing is one story at a time. Though there's usually other ideas which I mull or plan or make notes for at the same time.
A question for Jane!
Sonja Ringlever @SRinglever: Why do you write Westerns?
Jane: Isolation, survival of the fittest, and a ridiculously high male to female ratio :)
Shell keeps asking the big ones!
Shell: Do you think your love for writing will be with you until you shed this mortal coil?
Jane: For me, yes! I know some writers quit, but I can't imagine it.
Julie: Yes, I do. Especially as I feel I was a late starter. Took me ages to find any confidence at all! What about you?
Shell: I’m an extremely late starter! Typical. But I’d like to think so!
Julie: 'It's never too late to be the person you might have been.' George Eliot. (I found it on a Fat Face clothing tag!)
Shell: Thank you! That's going to be my new mantra!!
The Press gets serious
Manifold Press: A question to the fans: what are we doing that you like? Any suggestions you have for improvement?
Adam: Argh, opening up a can 'o worms there, Press!
Jane: I really like Manifold Press's covers and how easy you all are to work with :)
Adam: I love the covers too; it always amazes me when people don't.
Julie: (At the risk of seeming immodest) I love that you insist on quality, are prepared to subvert the genre, and do great covers.
We start winding up!
Shell: Well I'm all questioned out! It's been fun and informative! x
Jane: Thank you so much for participating! You've been fantastic and I've loved your questions!
Julie: Hon, you've been totally awesome! Thank you so much for your interest!
Manifold Press: That's the end of the #ManifoldPress Twitter Q&A! Don't forget, you can post questions through May 5 at the Manifold Press Goodreads Q&A.
Jane: Thanks for a great Q&A everyone! Feel free to post additional questions (though my response time won't be quite as fast :)
Julie: Thanks, everyone - and a special shout-out to Shell and Stella! ♥♥♥
Adam: Yes, thank you everyone - fun but exhausting; must do this again some time.
Manifold Press: Let's cap the day with a special offer: #Ravages by R.A. Padmos @RAPadmos is now 50% off! This offer coincides with the week leading up to the F.A. Cup Final in England. Find it here on Amazon US - and in all other Amazon marketplaces.
Thank you to everybody who joined in; we hope to see you all again next time!