Well, I went and amended the manuscript for ‘Redemptive Healing‘, and worked my way through the process of filling in all the questions that Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) asks you when you’re about to publish a book with them.  This time I pressed ‘Publish’ with a sense of relief.

Only to have an email from them 24 hours later, telling me that I had two ISBNs and I had to delete one and use the other.

So I went back to the manuscript and obediently changed the ISBN.  But every time I uploaded it, it failed to register.

So I got in touch with them.  I must say, they are very good, I always get a response within about 24 hours.  They explained that I had to choose one of them.  So I did.  And uploaded again.

24 hours, the same generic email as before.  Again I got in touch, and this time had a rather complicated explanation.  However, I was also told exactly how to do it this time.  I went, I changed, I conquered.

And three cheers!  Grandpa’s book ‘Redemptive Healing’ is now available for purchase.  Especially interesting for those who want to know more about Christian healing, and for church people involved in the ministry of healing.






I’m learning new skills all the time, and currently I’m discovering how to publish a book through Amazon.

I’ve already brought out my childhood memoir, ‘Between the Mountain and the Sea:  memories of a childhood on the world’s loneliest inhabited island’ on this platform, both as an ebook and as a paperback. I’m not entirely satisfied with it, and decided to do better next time.  Thus armed with my mistakes, I turned my attention to the little booklet my grandfather had published in 1953.

I’d already uploaded this, and opted for a proof copy.  When it arrived I went through it with a fine toothcomb.  The problems were mainly of layout rather than the text, which was pretty well accurate, apart from the odd comma.

grandpa proof copy

So I went back to the Kindle platform to see if I could rectify these.  I found that I could edit quite easily, although what you see on the kindle platform is what it would look like on an ereader, not in a paperback.  But it’s a useful tool for uploading your text and licking it into shape, using all the templates provided.

Having made the changes, I went to ‘upload as paperback’ on the Amazon author site.  Although there were about three drafts there, I have no idea where they have come from as I have only uploaded it once previously, and I didn’t trust them, so I started the upload process all over again.  This involves deciding whether you will let Amazon give you a free ISBN (which you can’t use if you want to publish it elsewhere) or paying £80 for the privilege of having your own.  As I’d settled on going with Amazon, I might as well commit, so I went for their free one.

You can then choose the size of your book, the colour and style of the pages, where you want to put the page numbers etc.

Then you are urged to select a cover.  Again, these are templates:  there are about 9 options, where you decide what font you want, how you want the layout to be, and what colours you prefer.  I liked the pink and black until Hub turned up his nose at it and informed me loftily that, if he came across a book in  those colours he wouldn’t want to read it.  Sigh.  And this from a man who enjoys Georgette Heyer.  I ask you.

You can now go straight to ‘save and publish’ if you wish.  The temptation to just go ahead and do that was great, but I have opted for another proof copy, so that I can be sure.  So, more waiting.  *impatient tap of toe*

As I was wending my way through the labyrinth of details, I discovered that there was a different way of uploading a manuscript other than through Kindle.  I might try that next time, for my fictional African short stories…



What Your Inner Critic Doesn’t Want You To Know

I follow writer Emma Darwin’s wonderful blog, This Itch of Writing, full of encouragement and the most practical of practical help.

Most of us who aspire to write know too well that imp living in our heads, our Inner Critic, and how it conspires with other imps to shut down our efforts as not being ‘worthy’.  Emma picks it up, turns it over, dissects it, puts it back together again, and returns it to us as Helpful Imp instead.  Have a read!


I know so many aspiring writers who would say that their problem is not getting going: good ideas come along often, and for a while they find it easy and exciting to devote lots of their available time to the project. But “for a while” is the problem: their past is littered with brave beginnings that petered out, half-filled notebooks, unfinished drafts, and finished first drafts that they never revised “for their reader”. So I thought I’d pause the Write Your First Novel course, for a moment – I promise I’ll get back to it – and have a quick think about this.

The “Divine Spark” – or not

The first problem is the way our culture conceives of creative practice, from interviews and events to the self-help, feel-good rhetoric and movies sloshing around in public space. It’s so often a version of the “divine spark” stuff: the Romantics’ idea that you are visited by passion which demands to be fulfilled. To be fair, that is almost certainly what drove you to start writing, but the consequence is that when the passion fades, we assume it’s a message that this is the wrong project, or we are the wrong writer for it.

So it may simply be that you need to internalise what all professional authors know: that some days writing is boring, some days it’s difficult, some days it’s baffling, some days you do it incredibly badly and slowly and stupidly, some days you cut far more than you add, some days you are seized with terror or fury at your own inadequacy to the task – and almost all days you’d be earning more working in a supermarket. When Hilary Mantel was asked if with all her success and experience and prizes, she felt more confident starting a new project, she said no: that with every book you are right back at the foot of the mountain with absolutely no confidence that you will be able to climb it. That is just business as usual, so things being difficult is not a sign that you should give up.


If the reason you tend to abandon projects is that another, more promising one comes along then, like much adultery, it’s very likely that it’s chiefly about the problems back home with your original relationship. I blogged about the allure of The Other Novel a while back, so I won’t go on here.

The Thirty-Thousand Doldrums

This is a more practical form of running out of steam, which seems to be incredibly common in writers of all kinds. I think that many of us, starting on a project, have the story-fuel – the larder full of imagined, remembered and researched material – to last for 25-30,000 words of a story: the first third, say. After that you have to refuel, and I’ve blogged more about this, too.

The Inner Critic

But if the reason you give up is those voices whispering that this project’s no good, you’ll never do it, it’s a waste of your time, you’re stupid to persevere, it’ll never be published, then we’re on slightly different territory. These are Anne Lamott’s Chattering White Mice: the voices of what Jay Earley calls your Inner Critic. I like that link because it makes clear that these voices are trying to help you and keep you safe . They are just very out-of-date about what you need.

The thing is, writing makes you vulnerable. You may not have the least intention of baring your soul, but here you are, working hard, for a long time, at something difficult, with the intention of sending it out to discover if anyone likes it. You are risking exposure, disappointment, rejection, disapproval, scorn, and humiliation – and the more you’ve put into the project, the worse those will feel. So to keep you safe, the Inner Critic gets in first, by saying whatever comes to hand which will get you to give up. If “You’re bad at writing and you’ll never be any good” doesn’t work, it says all the other things it can think of that will get you to come back to safety.

Much out there on Inner Critics is quite shouty-fighty: shut them down, beat them, ignore them. It’s all very exhausting. The rather amazing Internal Family Systems  paradigm, which Earley is working with, is far more gentle. It begins by acknowledging that the Inner Critic is trying to protect you from all these horrible things: its intentions are good, it wants to help. But what if, instead, it knew that you could look after yourself? What if you could show it that they can trust you to cope, to be OK in the end? Then they could stand down, and finally have a rest – and wouldn’t that be nice!

A potentially gifted writer and I were talking about all this, yesterday, because they’d just felt the energy of several weeks’ blast at a new project suddenly sucked out by those inner voices. And I had a revelation.

The Stakes are Getting Higher

We all know from plotting that our stake in a game is made up of two things: what we stand to gain if we win, and how we stand to suffer if we lose. When what you might gain gets bigger and richer then the potential suffering of losing gets bigger, and therefore scarier.

So if the Anti-Writing Demon’s job is to protect you from the dangers of writing, then when it smells danger it will start to murmur, and as the stakes rise, the murmurs get louder and more insistent. There’s “danger” here, they believe: this project is turning into a Good Thing, you are more and more committed to it, you will finish it, you will it send out, people with power over it and your writing life will read it – and who knows what agonies will follow?

As my friend the thriller-writer R N Morris says, “The longer you go on, the more you have invested in it, so the more you stand to lose. Walk away from it early on and you haven’t lost so much.” Your Inner Critic and the Anti-Writing Demon therefore team up and work hard to make sure you do walk away.

But what they don’t realise is that by this very token, they’re showing you that this is a project you shouldn’t walk away from: that it has legs, mileage, potential, excitement, value – if you only keep going.

Inside and Outside the Writer’s Bubble

In the same conversation children’s writer Sarah J Dodd said: “I have realised that my inner critic often prevents me finishing a first draft or going on to do a second. BUT if I wait long enough (3 years in the case of current WIP), I find it has gone away, replaced with Inner Cheerleader who also happens to be sensibly critical but also wildly enthusiastic.”

I think this is fascinating, because we usually think of drawer-time giving us distance to be less wildly enthusiastic, less “in the bubble”, and more able to stand outside the story and see objectively how it’s (not) working. Inside the bubble, to keep what Rose Tremain calls the “anarchic, gift-conjuring, unknowing part of the writer’s mind” working freely, we have to shut of the “knowing” part, the premature “editor”, the judging-too-soon part of our minds.

But Sarah’s experience suggests that Inner Critic voices – which sound so like our teachers, twitterers, workshop mates and industry gurus – are not real, objective voices carried into the bubble, but produced inside it by our own subjective selves. Maybe it’s our more “knowing”, “editing”, “judging” parts which would know the Inner Critic’s judgement for the untrue or unhelpful thing it is – except that being in the bubble requires us to shut out those useful, knowing parts.

So what does this all mean?

  1. The fact that your Inner Critic is chattering is not a sign that you and/or your writing are pointless.
  2. The core creative process may, by definition, make it difficult to police inner, critical voices, and discern whether what they’re saying is good sense, or simply a protective spasm designed to stop all movement.
  3. It’s tiring and unhelpful to keep having to overcome or shout down your Inner Critic, and it’s certainly unhelpful to scorn yourself (i.e. let your Inner Critic scorn you) for failing to cope with it. It’s actually doing its best to protect you, as with a protective muscle spasm. Acknowledging its efforts and good intentions, while reassuring it that it can trust you to cope if anything bad happens, may be enough to get it to calm down.
  4. The shoutier your Inner Critic becomes, the stronger the sign that this project is not only not pointless, it’s all beginning to get very pointful: that it has legs, that it’s substantial, it has potential, the work is worth it: that it’s better, not worse, than you’ve done before.

So maybe you’d better get on with it.


Last year I published the story of my call by God to ordained ministry in the Church of England, called ‘Deacon by Design’.  It’s very honest about the difficulties and ups and downs that have come my way, but also showing how God has guided me through it all.

I’m so encouraged at being directed by the printers to send more copies of my book #deaconbydesign to the national book wholesalers!  This means it will continue to be available online through Amazon, Hive and other outlets.

Deacon by Design

Don’t be put off by a page saying ‘out of stock’ – they will soon arrive.  Or if you’d like me to send you one directly, let me know in the comments.



Many years ago, when Hub was at theological college, we had a riotous evening with another couple where the wife was also a student, and came up with the following.  Somewhat to our surprise, it was published in a book called Made for Each Other, by Michele Guinness.  The book came out in 1996, two years after women were able to become priests but before they could become bishops.  Our offering is in a section entitled ‘Some are just more equal than others.’  I say no more!


I express reservation

You protest

She throws a tantrum


I am called

You thought ministry was a good idea

She is campaigning for the feminist cause


I have insight

You are perceptive

She’s got female intuition


I defend my principles

You keep repeating yourself

She’s nagging again


I have a career

You have a job

She’s earning pin money


I am deep in thought

You are miles away

She’s depressed again


I am filled with the Spirit

You are charismatic

She is over-emotional


I consider the pros and cons

You worry

She’s neurotic


I speak my mind

You get angry

She is aggressive


I like to balance antitheses

You are moderate

She is indecisive


I anticipate

You take risks

… women drivers!


Copyright Gill and Geoff Kimber, David and Lesley de Pomerai.  Please don’t use without permission

The Origins of Religious Prejudices against Women - Wijngaards ...

image from wijngaardsinstitute.com



Once more I’m skirmishing with Amazon’s kindle publishing.  In 1953 my grandfather, Rev Edgar Bell, published a little book called modestly ‘Notes on Redemptive Healing’.  I still have an original copy, in a pale blue cover, with rusty staples, dated 1953 and costing one shilling and sixpence.

It’s a stunning little book: of its time in style, but full of practical wisdom and deep love of God and a shining faith.  Grandpa had a gift of healing, and spent his life reading, reflecting, praying and practising his gift.  The distilled reflections in his booklet are the fruit of decades of practical experience and he explains the spiritual context so clearly too.

I decided that it was time to dust off the book and republish it with a new jacket, so that it could be available to people again.  So I scanned it all – which always means lots of oddities and typos when you come to look at it – and then put it into Word, which I’ve checked a hundred times (well, it feels like that).  I uploaded it on to Amazon and, after a false start, created a cover for it.  I bullied people into writing an appreciation of the book – well, what’s the use of having a bishop and a ‘lady’ in the family if you don’t use them?

I was all poised to press ‘publish’ yesterday when I saw it was possible to ask for a proof copy before launching it into the wide blue yonder.  I hate holding myself up when I’m seeing the end of a project – it’s so frustrating – but I’ve already discovered that what appears on the screen when you edit is not what appears on the page when you read.  So, reluctantly, I curbed my inner activist and ordered a proof.

This book has to be as right as I can make it.


My grandparents in the garden one day during their retirement. My cousins and I have never worked out who the child is!


A couple of years ago I took myself off to a solitary retreat.  I took with me ‘The Artist’s Rule’ by Paintner, a Benedictine and artist.  I selected just a few of the creative suggestions she makes, and one of them was to write a poem on the theme of ‘Today I am going to start living as a ….’  The purpose of this was to address the way so many of us ignore or neglect the gifts we’ve been given in favour of doing ‘other things’.

In my case the ‘other things’ have been necessary, but I have been aware for a while that, although I am still involved in projects which are necessary and valuable, now I am retired there is really no good reason to continue to neglect the creative gift of writing.  I needed to make a determined effort.

So I wrote this.


Today I am going to start living like a writer

I am going to collect the insistences

With their wagging fingers

The oughts and anys, the demands

And the shrill guilts

And put them in this box,

This one right here,

And lock it up and put it on a shelf,

The highest shelf,

And give the key to you.

Today I’m going to start living

As a writer.  I will take the path to the old tower

And turn the heavy black key

And when I am inside, I will

Drop the bar on the door.

As I climb the spiral stairs

I will not heed the dust nor smell the must

But watch instead the shining motes

Hanging in a spill of sun

Splashing through the window halfway up.

I refuse to note the dirty panes but

Watch instead the spider webbing so domestically

Against the glass

Until I’m tired, and then I’ll climb the stair.

Today I will start living as a writer,

I’ll go into the tower room, my room, my tower

And look with pleasure at the view through every window

Then, sitting at my desk, I’ll open up the drawer

And bring out sheets of yellowing paper

And pens in an ungainly bunch

Because I don’t know which will work.

And then, and then, I will take one last look

Through the windows at the fields and the stream,

All golden and contented in the sun,

And I will take up a pen that works

And give my hand permission.


Copyright Gill Kimber

We should stop distinguishing between 'creative' and other forms ...

(image from Inside Higher Ed)



The stack of books on their way to charity shops grows ever higher in our charity cupboard.  Hub especially is really missing his constant trips to add to his collection, despite fierce stares from me, and demands to know where he is going to put them all?? – because we ran out of room a long time ago.

books book stack used books old books book stacks book pile book ...

(image from rebloggy)

However, his halo is firmly in place as he beatifically informed me that he is using lockdown as an opportunity to Make Decisions over the overspill of paperbacks on shelves that are meant to be for Other Things.  He has even pointed out the ones that he’s looked at and decided not to read, and yes!  – they have made it as far as The Cupboard!

I put in five today:  Anita Shreve’s ‘The Pilot’s Wife’ (very well written but hackneyed story):  Marquez’s ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ (what can I say?  Exquisitely written but horrible protagonists): ‘Alfred the Great’ which I ordered for what I thought might be a writing project but it didn’t have legs:  ‘Gilead’ by Marilynne Robinson – I’d read ‘Home’ some time ago which moved me to tears, which was such an unusual experience I thought I must try Gilead, given all the ravings about it on the web;  wonderfully-written (of course – it won the Pulitzer) but hmmm:   and finally, and just finished, S J Parris’s ‘Conspiracy’ starring Giordano Bruno.

Now I’d heard about this series and I sat up when Hathaway mentioned Giordano Bruno on ‘Lewis’ recently:  bestseller etc etc.  Well, not for me.  Bruno is an absolute prat. How on earth he ends up as a spy for Walsingham in Elizabethan England is completely beyond me. He makes every mistake in the book, and you can see them coming pages ahead!

Although perhaps it’s not quite fair to read it at the same time as I’m reading Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light.  She knocks all other historical novelists into a cocked hat.


(available on Audible)

I’m still reading Hilary Mantel’s massive book ‘the Mirror and the Light’, the last in her  trilogy about Thomas Cromwell.  Sometimes I just have to stop, set aside the story (which is gripping), sit back and take pleasure in the sheer brilliance of the writing.

At this point in the story, the ‘Pilgrimage of Grace’ has begun as a rebel movement in the north.  Cromwell needs to handle the king well and enable resources and supplies to flow to armaments-makers and ready the rest of the country for civil war.  The courtiers will have to change.  She writes

The king’s companions are prepared to march.  So scented, the courtiers, so urbane: the rustle of silk, the soundless tread of padded shoes. But slaughter is their trade. Like butchers in the shambles, it is what they were reared for.  Peace, to them, is just the interval between wars. Now the stuff for masques, for interludes, is swept away. It is no more time to dance. The perfumed paw picks up the sword. The lute falls silent.  The drum begins to beat.

There’s so much happening, just in this one paragraph.  It’s not only about how she shows, by the clever use of contrasts, the way life is going to change: the courtiers must swap their expensive, leisured lifestyles for a military one.  That image of butchers in their shambles is a brutal one, not only because of its sheer contrast with the silks and satins but also because it strips them bare and shows what they are like underneath.  It’s  about how their ancient lineages grew out of war and means they are always ready for it, which indicates a whole back-culture of the way the assumption of privilege goes hand in hand with an assumption that they are the king’s men and therefore must always be ready to defend both him and the realm.  These are courtiers stripped for action with their histories not only behind them but part of their response now.

Look too at the way she uses the senses:  sight, smell and hearing are all employed.

Fascinating stuff.