My First Week At Peepal Tree Press

I’ve been in Leeds for a week and already done so much!

Where do I start?

Reading & Blurb-ing

First of all, there has been lots of reading! But that shouldn’t be a surprise, I’m working in a publishing company after all.

I have to say, one of the best things so far, is reading some great – and some not so great – writing for free!

The reading has mostly been fiction and poetry. Along with reading submissions, as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been reading an upcoming poetry collection which I have to write a blurb for.

It was like being in class, taking out a pencil, annotating the manuscript, taking notes and analysing the text. Nothing like a bit of close reading to keep you humble!

The interesting part was  how to write the blurb itself. I thought I knew how to do this, but that wasn’t quite the case. I went into default review mode and started writing  how I write for DURA.

It’s not quite like that. It seems to sit on the fence between a review and a newspaper article, with all the most important info coming first. My blurb had to be around 250-300 words, but I was surprised to learn that it could be extracted by a magazine, for example, and only the first 18-30 words used.

After a few editing suggestions, I went back to the blurb and refined it.
Now I’ll just have to see if my blurb makes it on to the actual book!

Advert for The Bookseller

One of the most enjoyable things I have done so far is to flex my graphic design muscles and make a half-page advert for an upcoming issue of The Bookseller.

Peepal Tree has half a page to advertise the company and promote its latest titles. So, I’ve been spending some time with Hannah, discussing different ideas and designs.

I suggested that we use a poem from one of the our latest releases, A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson, to capture people’s attention. His poem ‘Black Olive’ is certainly one that will do that. The final version of the advert includes the poem, several book covers and general information about Peepal Tree.

Other bits and pieces

I was lucky enough to attend an Art Council Meeting with Jeremy to learn about how publishers can make the most of their digital and social media presence.

And, not strictly publishing-related, but Jeremy was one of the speakers at a conference on Post-Colonial Studies, where I met various students and academics and listened to some fascinating presentation.

Up next…

Currently I’m working on Peepal Tree’s catalogue for 2019. I have to make sure it is updated with the correct information and in the correct order before it goes to print.

In the coming weeks I hope to have a stab at come formatting and editing, but so far so good!

Before you go…

If you’d like to learn more about Peepal Tree Press, check out this interview I did with Jeremy and Hannah.

I’ll be back with more later,





Another Summer, Another Internship!

This is now my third summer in a row as an intern.

My last two were at DC Thomson in Dundee but this latest one takes me much further afield – to Leeds!

Peepal Tree Press Entrance

Over the next six weeks or so, I will be doing a new type of dissertation module which involves me doing a placement with Leeds publisher, Peepal Tree Press – yes it is very fancy, thank you.

Peepal Tree is a UK-based publisher which specialise is Caribbean and Black-British and South Asian in the UK. It publishes writers from both the UK and the Caribbean in Poetry, Fiction and Non-Fiction.

There are lots of different parts to this dissertation placement which I’ll explain as I go along and as I begin to understand better myself.

As for my first day…

It was great! I have already done a whole range of things I had never done before:

I looked at submitted manuscripts that were in Peepal Tree’s pile and read to see if they could be taken further. That’s right, I make the decisions around here.

I was given an introduction to things like Consonance, a software where publishers manage all their data for their titles.

And a look at Submittable from an organization’s point of view.

It was interesting to get a feel for working in-house at a publishers. Reading manuscripts and navigating around the software has already allowed me to use some of the skills I have picked up during my degree – so that’s a good sign!

There was plenty to do on this first day and, by the sounds of it, plenty of more great things to come.

Drop by later to find out how I get on!


The #FFFinal Curtain

This Friday (29th March) will be the last day of my placement at Glasgow Women’s Library and my last #FlashFictionFriday.  It will seem strange not journeying through to Glasgow every Friday once it’s over.

I’m looking forward, this week, to reading the submissions prompted by the current image (below)  and to preparing a #FFF file with additional images so that the project can be continued or resurrected by others at any time after my departure.

This blog will be brief because much of what I have to say will now find its way into the impending reflective essay.  However, as many of you will know,  I’ve enjoyed this project and am glad that I had the chance to engage with it.

In addition to my work around #FlashFictionFriday I’ve also had the opportunity to participate in other activities undertaken by Glasgow Women’s Library.  I have been fortunate to sit in on the planning meetings for GWL’s own Women’s Literary Festival, Open the Door.  Some of you may be interested in the activites taking place over the two day festival.  You can find out more here:

GWL Launches Plans for Open the Door 2019

It promised to be an inspiring couple of days. I hope you can catch some of it.

That’s all, folks!

Luath placement Day Five Its the final countdown…

Today felt rather odd, perhaps because I knew it was my final day at Luath, perhaps because I was going to meet Gavin for the first time and the controls of power would change from the girls working there to Gavin. I went for a coffee at the Castle Rooftop Diner again. I didn’t even need to ask for my order today, as they knew!  So I sat and relaxed before climbing the Luath’s tower. (Seriously, I think I will be fit after this!)

I met Gavin, and explained what I had been up to all week. I was then tasked with continuing with the Scottish Parliament: an oral history. This time not with proofreading, but with creating a blurb, a press release and other items on my list.

Later on, Carrie showed me the ONIX system and Maia explained how to create a barcode. These were useful things to see. I wrote a brief summary for  Gavin, and discussed this with him at the end of the day, prior to leaving.

I felt that perhaps he was perhaps surprised about my decision to leave teaching.  He did explain that it was difficult to get into publishing, and indeed to get published. I understand that fully, and stand by just teaching up to four days a month for money flow, but other than that I want to pursue my dreams.

As I travelled back  the Queensferry Crossing, I contemplated about my week. It was busy, eventful and I learnt a huge amount. I considered what Gavin had said about teaching etc.  However, I have come to the conclusion that I really do want to work with books and become an author, and I would also enjoy proofreading -on a freelance basis. I made my choice when I resigned my permanent post in September. I am totally convinced that it was the correct move for me.

Lorna Goodison, Jamaica’s makar, in conversation with Louise Welsh in Bute Hall, GU

From atoms of a shared consciousness…

There’s something quite magical and transformative about listening to a seasoned poet reading from their vast ouevre, unbidden and from memory. When it’s in the architectural splendour of Glasgow University’s Bute Hall in Gothic Revival and that poet is the Jamaican poet laureate, Lorna Goodison, in conversation with Louise Welsh, writer and Professor of creative writing at the University, then you know that for the next hour you’re in for something of a treat. Within a minute or so of introduction, Lorna is in full poetic flight reading firstly ‘For my Mother (May I Inherit Half Her Strength)’ (raising much laughter in the audience) before dropping into the corpus of the collection with many more readings; aptly closing with one about Bob Marley and Robert Burns in ‘And I Hear From Two Rabbies’. Lorna’s poems are words of praise, paeans to Nature and everyone and everything connecting to it; teeming with a superabundance of fruit and flower imagery – mango, daffodil, bougainvillea are just three such examples. Together these exotic blooms of spoken words, powerful as they are, form almost as a new Jamaica in the vast cathedral of space above our heads before falling as confetti into our shared consciousness. The Botanic’s Kibble Palace might have been more suited for such a show but on this cold March evening the warm ambience of the Bute Hall, in the falling light through stained glass, tawny and familiar, is just right for transcending our ordinary lives.


Luath work placement day 4 … ‘I think I’m alone now …’

After running from my car, which was parked quite a distance from the Halbeath Park & Ride  building, to the bus this morning, I recovered on the bus. A leisurely stroll ensued past Princes Street Gardens then up to the Royal Mile, by a different route this time, I was in need of a drink. Underneath some scaffolding, I found Deacon Brodie’s cafe. It was perfect. With the age of the building and the cordiality of the staff, I could have whiled away many hours there; the coffee delicious.

I headed up to Luath for my fourth day. Then I continued proofreading the ‘The Scottish Parliament: an oral history’  manuscript for the remainder of my day, prior to heading to Main Point books in Bread Street.

For a couple of hours this afternoon, I was on my own in the office as Maia needed to go to give a presentation at the university; Madeleine, the other intern was already at the book shop. I took three telephone calls and had a long discussion with an elderly author during one of these calls.

When Maia returned, I left to see Jennie at her shop with the completed manuscript, that I had proofread. She agreed with most of the alterations, which I was delighted about. These will then be queried with Luath’s director on his return from London. Another busy but successful day.

Luath work placement day 3 – ‘I’m halfway there!’

Crazily busy day today proofreading a book about the Scottish Parliament from its establishment in 1999 until more recent times. It was mainly compiled as an ‘oral history’, which has since been transcribed. I have gone through more than fifty pages, over a hundred more to do still. However, I am getting faster. The oral transcripts do not need as much attention as the author introduction and other author written sections, as they require speaker authenticity. I certainly have learnt about a subject today, that I never thought I would read!

Jennie, an editor, was in today and gave me lots of tips. She wants to go through this task with me tomorrow in her bookshop, Mainpoint Books, towards the end of the day. So that will be a beneficial thing to do too.

In between all of this, I delivered a box of books to St. Augustine’s United Reformed Church, on George IV bridge, as they have an Old Edinburgh group meeting there tonight.

I will definitely sleep well tonight.


Luath work placement day 2 …’Beware the savage jaw of 1984!’

Interesting day and the time just flew by! I finished up my AI on  Sgaith, Amazon Queen of Skye.

I then went onto completing a Marketing Plan for Barnhill by Norman Bissell. I then prepared a calendar of events for a Fathers Day Promotion/Competition/Social Media items to do with the launch of Barnhill. Barnhill is a biography on George Orwell’s  latter years, which he spent at Barnhill on the Isle of Jura. During this time he wrote ‘1984’. This june marks the 70th anniversary since the publication of ‘1984’. This was all extremely interesting and useful to do.

The day ended with another post office visit, this time we got drenched but didn’t take the long route!

Looking forward to proofreading a novel tomorrow.



#FFF – Artemisia inspires!

Artemisia has arrived in Glasgow.  Artemisia Gentileschi’s self portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria is on tour from the National Gallery and has popped up at Glasgow Women’s Library.  Here she is.  Isn’t she beautiful?


She has taken up residence in the upstairs gallery at the library, right next to the Decoding Inequalities exhibition.  She will be there until Tuesday 19th March.  Both Artemisia and Saint Catherine have extraordinary histories.  For this reason I have used the above image as this week’s #FlashFictionFriday prompt.  To tempt readers of this blog to submit a story some information about Artemisia and Saint Catherine appears below.   Or you can find out more by following this link:

Get writing, get tweeting, what have you got to lose?

  • Write a tiny story of up to 240 characters inspired by the Artemisia painting
  • Be brief, dive right in to the heart of the story
  • You can hint at a wider backstory – remember your <240 characters are the tip of an iceberg
  • Trust your reader to fill in the gaps
  • Tweet your story using #FlashFictionFriday and remember to tag  @womenslibrary

If you are not a Twitter user you can send your story to:

If you are in or around Glasgow before 19th March – come on in and meet her!

Glasgow Women’s Library
23 Landressy Street
Glasgow, G40 1BP

Opening hours:

Our opening hours are 9.30am-5pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday and 9.30am-7.30pm on Thursday. We are also open on Saturday from 12pm to 4pm.



Luath work placement Day 1 ‘I took the bus to streets that I could walk down/ I walked the streets to find the one I’d looked for/ I climbed the stair that led me to your front door’


Nothing could prepare me for how different this day would  be, compared to ‘my previous working life’. Apart from having adults to speak to/not speak to (as appropriate at the time) and being able to go to the bathroom without waiting for break time and actually, most importantly, being able to do a task without being interrupted by 33 children at various points: it was as far removed from my normality of 24+ years as it could actually get!

So, as I had arrived in Princes Street nice and early, I sauntered up to the Royal Mile and found myself in the Castle coffee shop, where I waited with a lovely americano till  nearer 11AM. I then made my way to the little close off Castle Hill. Another girl, Madeleine, was looking too, then we eventually worked out which door we needed. All that education between us …

We were warmly met by Maia and were introduced to Carrie when we got to the attic. Yes, attic! The room is ‘cosy’ and had the most amazing views. It is piled high from corner to corner, not that you could see the corners, with.books and manuscripts galore! The walls and slanted roof adorned with book sleeves. What a treat! A book lovers delight …This week would certainly be an adventure!

We were shown the One Drive server and asked to just browse it. I was apprehensive as we could look at everything. I had to take the utmost care not to accidentally erase/alter anything! It was fascinating to see the AIs (Advanced Information sheets) and also the way they approach book sellers.

I have been given the task of sorting out social media for a novel coming out soon and to look at doing an AI this week too. I commenced an AI on Sgaith, Amazon Queen of Skye.

Madeleine and I then packaged books and AI letters to go to various booksellers for Tribes of Glasgow.  We then carried these sacks to the post office, via quite an interesting route,  then went our separate ways home. Next time I’ll do the navigation! 😂

Looking  forward to tomorrow.