Joanne Phillips



Do You Need A Guide To Indie Publishers and Small Presses?

This week my copy of the Mslexia Indie Presses guide 2016/17 arrived, and never has the publication of a new reference book been met with so much enthusiasm! What an awesome feat of collation and hard work – the team at Mslexia have been working flat out to put this up-to-date guide together, and I think it’s a brilliant resource.

Mslexia indie presses guide cropped


Why is it needed?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Writers these days stand a far better chance of publication with a small press, but since the death of The Small Press Guide in 2002, there has been no single resource for writers to consult. Mslexia explains in their introduction:

“…there are literally hundreds of independent book publishers and literary magazines (…) but they are incredibly difficult to catalogue. As fast as a new book publisher is launched, another shuts up shop; new magazines appear every year and others disappear into the ether. The original Guide had to be updated every year, which was a truly daunting prospect in the days before websites, emails and smartphones …”

I’d add that trawling through the Writers and Artists Yearbook, trying to sort out which publisher might accept submission and which are only there as a standard listing, is no fun either. Thank goodness Mslexia decided to take up this project and run with it.

What does it include?

Detailed listings of around 200 literary magazines and 250 small presses, including advice on genres and how to submit. There is also a section on competitions, and a useful index. Many of the listings have an additional ‘We say’ section, with helpful comments from the Mslexia team about the press in question. And all of the entries are open to submissions and actively looking for writers at this time!

Who is it for?

You! It’s for all writers, whether you write prose or poetry, fiction or non-fiction, and it’s also a great resource for those working in the publishing industry as a freelance. As well as checking out the listings of small presses for my novel This Beautiful World (which is still looking for a home), I’m also planning to use this guide to target my pitches for indexing work. Win win.

Where can I buy it?

You can buy the guide from the Mslexia website here, and it costs £12.99 +p&p. In terms of the amount of effort and legwork this guide will save you, I think it’s a bargain!




A Free Book For The Weekend – Slur by Heather Burnside

To celebrate the launch of ‘Danger by Association – The Riverhill Trilogy: Book 3’, one of my favourite authors, Heather Burnside, will be running a free promotion for book 1, ‘Slur’. The book will be free to download for Kindle for three days only from 17th June until 19th June. Here are your links:
UK:  US:


Heather’s new book, Danger by Association, is out on 24th June and the Kindle version is already available to pre-order and the book is also available in print from

Goodreads Giveaway

Heather is giving away three signed print copies of ‘Danger by Association’ in a Goodreads Giveaway. The competition is open to readers in a number of countries. You can find out more information by checking out her Goodreads author page here after the book has launched. There will be an announcement about the Giveaway on her author website at


Super covers

One thing I love about the Riverhill Trilogy is the excellent and coherent cover design – another hit from my fab cover designer Chris Howard. So striking and clever, and I wish Heather all the best with this new promotion. Please download and share widely!

THE TRYSTING TREE – The Untold Story by Linda Gillard

Today I’m delighted to be handing over my blog to the amazing novelist Linda Gillard, whose long awaited new book is out this week. Over to you, Linda …

My latest novel, THE TRYSTING TREE covers a century in the lives of three families, beginning in 1914. Whenever I finish a novel, I show it to a few people: my agent, husband and daughter, my 91-year old Mum (who has a sharp eye for typos) and several friends. Two of these early readers pointed out that there was a lot missing from the book. They meant scenes that were referred to, but not described. This was because much of the novel is told in the form of diaries and letters.

L in Madeira cropped

Re-reading, I was staggered to see how much important material I hadn’t written. It almost looked as if I hadn’t written any of the big scenes. Instead I’d written what comes before and what comes after. In some cases I hadn’t done more than refer to major events. I panicked. Would this be unsatisfactory for the reader? Was my approach superficial?

I was all set to think about inserting new scenes when I started to wonder why so much was missing. I realised I’d written a book where almost all the big events happen “offstage”. I’d set out to write a book about a family history, presented partly as oral history, but also as an incomplete archive that has been badly damaged by fire, a collection of letters, diaries and photographs that raise more questions than they answer, the biggest one being, why did someone try to destroy the archive?

After much discussion with my early readers, I decided not to re-write. There was so much missing, so much the characters didn’t or couldn’t know – but that, it seemed to me, was the point: the story was ultimately incomplete. The reader is left in no doubt about what happened, but the 21stC characters have to deduce a good deal from the evidence that survived the fire, filling in the blanks with imaginative guesswork.

Will this make for a satisfying read? I hope so. A family history is, after all, always incomplete. It’s random, often sketchy, biased and ultimately unsatisfactory, because we want a beginning, middle and end. But it’s the gaps that intrigue us. The mysteries. The untold story.

The Trysting Tree

All I know about my grandfather’s involvement in WWI is that when he came home, my grandmother burned all his clothes and he refused ever to speak about his experience. That’s the sum total of my knowledge – of anyone’s. Even his silence is hearsay. He died when I was two.

Years later, when I was a teenager, Wilfred Owen & the War Poets loomed large in my life. Britten’s War Requiem (a setting of Owen’s poems) became a favourite piece of music. I’ve now written two novels featuring WWI soldier heroes. (The other was THE GLASS GUARDIAN.) I wonder now, did my grandfather’s refusal to speak have a more profound effect on me than anything he might have said?

Looking back over my eight novels, I can see my obsession is writing about what is not seen, not said and not known. I’ve written about negative space and the characters’ search for something that might somehow fill it. They are looking for completion. They’re people in search of more than just Mr/Ms Right. They want a surrogate family (Gwen in HOUSE OF SILENCE) or sanity (Rose in EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY and Magnus in UNTYING THE KNOT) or religious faith (Hugh in A LIFETIME BURNING) or just a fuller life experience (blind Marianne in STAR GAZING).

When I was writing THE TRYSTING TREE, I knew it wouldn’t be a complete narrative, it would have to be an oblique book. I didn’t write about the big events, I described the fallout. For example, there isn’t a word about the Battle of the Somme. I wrote about what happened after a soldier walked away from the battlefield, leaving his memory behind as a casualty of war.

THE TRYSTING TREE could have been a much longer and more detailed book, but would that have made it a better book? That’s for readers to decide. My hope is, what you don’t know and don’t see will have as much power to affect your imagination as what you do know and see. But it’s something of a gamble!

Rozelle web 1 smaller

My grandfather died over 60 years ago. I have no memory of him, just a few photos, but over the decades, the fact that he, like many, refused to talk about what he’d experienced in the trenches has spoken volumes to me. Perhaps his silence said all there was to say.



Linda Gillard on Facebook:

Linda’s books on Amazon:

Note from Jo: I was one of those lucky enough to read the book in an early draft and I can say with authority it is stunning – one of Linda’s best. And reading this guest post made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up – this is such an emotional journey, and I hope you’ll join us in sharing and promoting it.

Keeping Sam is FREE this weekend only!

To mark the launch of the paperback edition of Keeping Sam I’m giving away the Kindle ebook for free all weekend – if you haven’t read my latest novel yet now is your chance to grab this for nothing! Click here to get your copy.

The paperback will be out next week and I’m currently planning a ‘proper’ launch, bouncing some ideas around the capture the summer read market in my local area. Check out the paperback cover fab designer Chris Howard came up with:


So chuffed with this cover, especially the little hat left hanging on the fence! Please share the free promotion and do download your free book while you can.

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