Submittable This! - Umberto Tosi

It is difficult not to write about the current American crises of racial injustice, corruption, pandemic, and economic decline presided over by our criminal president. I'll give it a try and rant about a publishing annoyance this go-around. 

Start with the updated adage that century's road to hell is paved with well-intended apps. There are no problems that our smartphones can't solve - except the big ones - no mistakes Grammarly can fix - except the worst ones.

Sometimes we need to get it wrong to find what's right. My first draft attempt at a story usually turns out to be pathetically wrong, but it can lay down a pathway to what works, if I persist, and am lucky.

This is why I've always loved Thelonious Monk, the prince of making "wrong" notes who threw rules and familiar chords into fireplaces like spent Russian champagne glasses, the king of confounding expectations as brilliantly as he set them up.

Sometimes progress only means solving problems th…

How I discovered Flash Fiction - Guest Post by Peter Leyland

I was starting to teach a course on The Short Story for my WEA students when I noticed a reference on Twitter to Not Here Not Us, Short Stories of Syria (2018) by Bronwen Griffiths. Having an interest in the recent history of the country, and thinking I needed something to add to my usual fare of Ernest Hemingway, Katherine Mansfield, Shirley Jackson et al I sent off for a copy. 

When it arrived I had just started teaching the course and I read on the cover that it was a collection of short stories, flash fiction and poems about the Syria crisis. I mentioned the book to the class, and they asked me what flash fiction was. I said that I didn’t know but that I would find out for next week. This involved reading the book and so I did.
Reading can sometimes be for me an extraordinary experience, rather like a trip, and so it was with this book. The pieces with titles like ‘Sniper’, ‘Death and Survival’ and ‘Syrian Spaceman’ flowed together in one unbroken reading stream and as I usually do …

Nomad Letterpress's 2020 Vision is a beautiful achievement, says (not at all biased) Griselda Heppel

There I was, thinking that I’m the writer in the family (my next book is on the way, honest) when my dear husband goes and produces a book of his own. In fact, if the precious lockdown hadn’t descended, the book, 2020 Vision, would have been launched at the Oxford Fine Press Book Fair in March. Which is a strong clue to the kind of book it is, the most beautiful kind, produced by Nomad Letterpress  at the Whittington Press. No photolithography or digital stuff here.  This is traditional printing by hand, requiring immense skill, painstaking work and an overriding love of the book as an art form in itself. 
Not that my husband actually did any of this (though he used to produce his school magazine by letterpress back in the day, so has some knowledge of the craft). He – along with Pete Lawrence, a gifted wood engraver and graphic designer – merely had the idea for the book. The Society of Wood Engravers celebrates its centenary this year 2020 and Nigel, a lover rather than practiser of …

You Beneath Your Skin goes to the Screens!

In August last year, I was right amid book launch mayhem for You Beneath Your Skin.

Almost one year later, the world is irrevocably changed--there is a pre and post covid era, and we are all waiting for the shape of us when we emerge at the other end, when covid becomes a memory. Things are apparently not yet at their worst.

Through it all, life has gone on, as it does.

Last week, amid all the crazy anxiety for friends and family, I announced a piece of news that helped cheer us a little.

Endemol Shine has optioned You Beneath Your Skin for TV screens, and the news emerged on Hollywood Deadline.

This will hopefully take the book into new hands--and when the TV series gets made, I would get see my characters on screen. I'm equal parts excited and apprehensive, for obvious reasons, but it still makes for good news for the two nonprofits the book supports: Project WHY and Stop Acid Attacks.

Meanwhile, the world still goes on. Everywhere I look, there's misery. In book news, many…

Rebooting myself: N M Browne

As I get older, I realise, as I’m sure we all do, that our biggest battles tend to be with ourselves. I am not going to run myself down ( I’ve given that up.) There are some things I do easily and well, but my kindest supporter would have to admit that I am not a person who keeps track of things I don't care about. I can rarely find a matching pair of socks, am as likely to have five new tubes of toothpaste as none and have run out of space for notebooks I never use. I am a restless kind of writer, inclined to get excited by something new only to abandon it for a better idea.         Anyway, the upshot of this character flaw is that I don't keep track of my own writing very efficiently. (Don't worry I am very efficient with other people's)  Last week, I found a whole cache of poems I'd forgotten I’d written and I’ve lost count of novels I have written but done nothing with, or ideas I have come up with but never worked on.     My main problem is that once I have wr…


I have been walking past this amazing suburban garden for decades, going back to the years when I walked my two children home from school (they have both been serious adults for a very long time!) It's constructed by using very closely packed containers which can be moved around, re-arranged - so simple and so clever.

In all that time, I have never encountered the gardener - of such tiny mysteries Alan Bennett monologues are made (if you've never heard of him, do Google him - he's well worth the effort.) Stories, like "A Lady of Letters", narrated in a beautifully crafted stream of consciousness by unremarkable people - people we mightn't want to share time with because they're so conventional and boring, people we'd pass un-noticed in the street - until something suddenly jars, something suddenly shocks. As a recent critic described reading these stories or listening to the monologues, it's like being on a night sleeper which chugs along peacefull…

Making the World a Kinder, Gentler Place

On June 4thCall Me Joe by Martin Van Es and myself was published simultaneously in the UK and the Netherlands.

The bookshops, still closed in the UK, were just opening in Holland, which led to the book being stocked in 550 outlets and to a re-print of the Dutch edition before it had even hit the streets. Two weeks later it was number one in Hebban's charts.
In the UK a generous marketing budget meant that a four-page promotion for the book was wrapped around the Bookseller on June 12th, a promotional animation went up on the internet the following week and reviews started to trickle in from the blog tour.
The reactions were good, some of them more than good, and one of the main reasons people said they liked it was because Martin gives some actual suggestions on what we could do to clear up the mess that mankind seems to have got themselves into.
When there is so much turmoil and anxiety about the future, people are finding it refreshing to read concrete ideas as to how to make…