Not for Vanity launches a new promotional space

A space for writers to pitch their books to the public

Only four months after we launched our website, the response from self-published authors has been great and we are very grateful to all those who’ve trusted us with their work so far.

This has given us the motivation and drive to become bigger and better, and offer more space to more authors. But how?

After several brainstorming sessions, we are delighted to announce the launch of our new ‘Promotion’ Page, a whiteboard for writers to pitch their work to the public.


Interested authors should get in touch at and supply the following 6 items:

  1. Book title;
  2. Book Cover: a high-res pic of the book cover; 
  3. Synopsis: make it brief, make it great, make it sparkle, make it yours but most of all, make sure it’s brand new (not published elsewhere);
  4. USPs: what your UPSs (unique selling points) are and why readers should pick your book over someone else’s;
  5. Bio: a few lines about yourself and
  6. Contact Details: website/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram handle, so people can make contact and follow you.

We will then work with each author to fine tune their submission (if required), post the pitch on our website and promote the book on our Instagram & Twitter accounts through a bespoke post.

Would you like to take part? We are now open for submissions and have promotional slots available as early as Friday, 9th December. Seize the moment, don’t miss the opportunity to be part of the newest, freshest #selfpromotionfriday!

Ella & Alex


Ben Dixon

Author of the Neil Peel Trilogy

Hi Ben! Before we start, let me just say I absolutely loved Neil Peel’s Holiday. I am very happy you found us on Twitter and put your book forward for review. How and when did you come up with the idea for your Neil Peel novels? 

Hello! Thank you for such a kind review. That’s the kind of feedback that makes it all worthwhile.

There are probably many brilliant writers out there who just need the right story to tell. Coming up with an original idea is most of the battle. Neil Peel was born from several ideas coming together. My son, Max, was always brutally honest when he was a little boy. I remember an occasion when his sister was playing a video game and not doing very well. She was upset, and he said, “you’re not very good at this, are you?” which upset her even more. I felt for Isabelle, but his bluntness was also quite funny. A main character who always tells the truth gave me plenty of fuel once I’d come up with a good reason for him to do so.

Neil’s name came from a time when I was reading a Stephen King book in which there was a girl wearing a yellow dress. Just at that moment, I had a message from a friend called Melanie. Wordplay is something that I use a lot to come up with silly ideas; I switched the consonants in Melanie’s name to come up with Lemony, a girl who wears yellow. The surname followed to become Lemony Peel, and then Neil, father, John Peel and mother, Emma Peel came to mind after that. There are always little references to pop culture throughout the books that many won’t get. More blatant puns such as the primary school being called Prince Albert School in the village of Lower Piercing give an idea of the tone that I followed.

I had a lot of good episodic ideas for the first story, but a good ending is crucial for the whole thing not to fall flat. I’d written a silly comedy horror story for narration nearly thirty years ago before podcasts were a thing. It was about two bullies forcing an overweight victim-type into robbing an old lady’s house; she may or may not have been a witch. That tale got twisted to form the ending of my first story, ‘The Heroic Truths of Neil Peel’.

You are a father of four. Did this influence your writing and choice of genre in any way? 

I tried to write a thriller about five years ago because that was the genre that I generally read. I did have an idea and started to write it, but it wasn’t pulling me to the computer to write when I had the time; others have a knack for that sort of thing, but it seems I didn’t. I think, however, that I am a good observer of behaviour as many introverts are. My children often did and said funny things, sometimes without realising it when they were younger, or with confidence as they got older. I have quite a schoolboy sense of humour, so this genre came much more naturally. There are so many parts of a young person’s life which are rich pickings for humorous situations, and I really look forward to each writing session.

Talking about genres, I found it challenging to narrow your book series down to a specific one. I think it would be unfair to simply describe it as “funny books for teens”. Could you tell us a bit more about the genre? Are there many contemporary authors that write what you write? 

I usually say that my books are YA Humour, although you are right that it covers more than that. The stories touch on family dynamics, and there are some parts of ‘Neil Peel’s Rival’, the third book, that have made readers cry (with sadness as well as laughter!). 

Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole books were so popular when I was a teenager and remain popular to this day. For that reason, I cannot understand for the life of me why more people aren’t writing in that genre now. There were a few derivative diary books immediately after the first Mole book, but they were all inferior. My Neil Peel books have been likened to a modern Adrian Mole and have proven popular, even with reluctant readers. However, I wrote to entertain myself as well as the teen bracket, so there are many hidden gems for older readers as well as the young; in fact, many of the series biggest fans are nostalgic adults.

Irony and humour are a big part of your writing and I think they are also a great personal quality. Do you consider yourself a humorous person? Do these scenes just come to you or are they the product of a specific creative process? 

I’ve always loved comedy and have taken influences from a great variety of sources: The Marx Brothers, I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue, Les Dawson, Round the Horne, The Molesworth books, Vic and Bob, Frasier, Ronnie Barker and many more; I even did my university dissertation on the language-based humour of the Marx Brothers. I wrote a series of humorous horror shorts thirty years ago and some irreverent comedy school plays in my first teaching job which went down very well among the non-PC parents. Humour plays a big part in my life, and I always try to look on the bright side, something that’s so essential with all the constant bad news around us.

Whether I’m funny in person would be open to debate, but with time to plan humorous situations, I seem to find my niche. I was a guest speaker at the 2021 Surrey New Writers Festival, and the delegates were genuinely curious about how to write humour. They were very hard questions to answer. I think much of successful humour writing has to come from within and your influences.

What are your future writing plans? Are you going to continue writing Neil’s adventures or move on to something else? Can you give us a taste of what’s to come?

The third novel in the series, ‘Neil Peel’s Rival’, came out last month, and I’m delighted with it. The end of ‘Neil Peel’s Holiday’ teased a new character called Damian Devlin who has just joined Neil’s school, Titfield. All the familiar characters are back, but the main thrust of this third one is the rivalry between Neil and Damian, particularly centred around a mutual affection for Fleur, a girl in their class, and also the production of Much Ado About Nothing, their school play.

Book Three wraps up in a tidy fashion as if that is the end of the story. I’m not intending to go any further with it unless it really takes off on a larger scale. Otherwise, I might go back to that thriller, who knows?

Tell us a bit more about your writing routine. Do you follow a schedule or wait for inspiration? What type of writer are you: someone who can put a thousand words on paper in one go or someone who takes a whole morning to put in a comma only to remove it again in the afternoon?

Having a day job gets in the way of writing, but it also helps to consolidate ideas. Most advice seems to suggest forcing yourself to sit down and write, even if you are struggling; you can edit 40,000 words out of your manuscript at a later stage. What a waste of time that is! I gather ideas, noting down little jokes or chapter ideas while I’m too busy to write. I can also move the ideas around so that a sensible timeline is reached. When I do actually get time to write properly, it is more a question of putting ready-formed plans down onto paper, so I can often write 3,000 words in a (long) sitting. Having said that, I can also spend a really long time coming up with a chapter title. My favourite in ‘Neil Peel’s Rival’ is Return of the Red-Eye. My children are usually my test readers, and they spot typos or suggest that I’ve gone too far with the cheekiest ideas. 

If there’s anything else you’d like to add, please feel free to do so! 

Thank you again for the review. Exposure for new and independent writers is so hard to come by, so organisations like are really helpful for getting the word out. ‘Neil Peel’s Holiday’ and ‘Neil Peel’s Rival’ are free on Kindle Unlimited for anyone who has a subscription and might like to try something different. They also make great Christmas presents for those wishing to get their teens away from a screen for a while!


A new partnership: Not for Vanity & Mr. Mike

Introducing the “Mr.Mike Podcast: Wrong Answers Only”

We are delighted to introduce you to the “Mr. Mike Podcast: Wrong Answers Only”, a podcast bringing together, Mr. Mike and co-host Mr. D, “two of Canada’s most uninteresting thinkers and silly storytellers” (their words, not ours).

Started in January 2022 and now in its second season, the podcast is aired twice weekly (Monday & Wednesday).

We recommend you join them as they share stories, laughter, talk about random topics, and interview some really amazing guests, who come on to talk about their careers, books, and projects. 

Our founder Ella commented on this new venture: “This is the first of many collaborations we have in the pipeline, as our online community of readers, authors and artists grows. We are more focused than ever on bringing our audience the best self-published books and digital media out there, fostering creative thinking and encouraging an open dialogue, as our brand goes from strength to strength”.

Series One and Two of the Mr.Mike podcast are available at:

Keep your eyes peeled for our social media posts over the next few weeks!


A Unique Space for Us

The debut novel by Chantell Monique

A Unique Space for Us. Chantell Monique Romance, 2022.

Once upon a time there were two races: Humans and Aechaihs, a super race of demi-gods who had existed for thousands of years. The two used to co-exist in peace and harmony, ruled by Queen Aniyah, the last Aechaih governor married to a human man, Rhoman. It was under her reign that the Rhoman Massacre took place. Queen Aniyah’s husband, helped by a bunch of other humans, killed the queen and their unborn baby, decimated the Aechaih population and destroyed Human-Aechaih relations. The Aechaihs reacted by establishing a human enclave inside the city, governed by the Tri-Family Council, representing the three most powerful Aechaih families: Haslem, Syon and Tarnicon.

A good 700 years go by since the Rhoman’s Massacre and a thin and precarious balance exists between the two races, with tensions still running high. Until the city wakes up to the news that a human killed an Aechaih.

Fellowship Dancy, a human detective of the Trianah Metropolitan Police Department, is assigned to the case and, despite her wariness towards the Aechaihs, she is willing to do all she can to avoid a war between the two races and see the little privileges humans still have be eroded even more.

Fellowship is well known by the local population for her efforts to maintain peace between the two factions, going beyond her detective job. She understands that education plays a key role in avoiding the further spread of hate and incomprehension, so she also works as a teacher in the local college, where she tries to facilitate integration and keep young humans out of trouble. One day she organises a trip for her class to Queen Aniyah’s Temple. While Fellowship and her students are gathered right outside, ready to go back, she notices something wrong. Gunshots are fired from a car and to protect her students, Fellowship is caught in the line of fire and gets seriously injured. Hyphen Haslem, the heir of Haslem family, is, by pure luck, close to the location and intervenes immediately. The situation appears critical and Hyphen does the only thing he can to save Fellowship: he spreads his wings and flies her to the Septain Memorial, the Aechaihs’ hospital.

Something’s not quite right though: Hyphen is not supposed to fly and the two should’t be able to men-com. Aechaihs used to have wings, but in a past so far it almost seemed like a legend; plus, some can men-com (mentally communicate with each other), but Fellowship is a human and she’s not supposed to have that ability. They blame it on the fact that the injuries she sustained almost killed her, but the two can still men-com even after she’s completely recovered.

Despite his prestigious origins, Hyphen is the family black sheep: he is an inspector, something his father regards as a passing fancy, he has wings, that are recorded as a ‘defect’ on his birth certificate and he absolutely despises his father’s policies inside the Tri-Family Council, consecrated to keep humans in a lower position and using the Aechaih’s murder to justify limiting their existence even further.

Fellowship and Hyphen will find themselves working shoulder to shoulder on the case, and unfortunately two more deaths will follow, in a brutal escalation of tensions. They will be forced to spend a lot of time together and they will find out they have a lot in common, up to the point where they will no longer be able to deny their reciprocal attraction. 

This is only the tip of the iceberg… Hypen and Fellowship’s story is everything but conventional and straightforward, not exactly along the lines of “boy meets girl, they fall in love, they are both detectives trying to solve a case and eventually succeed”, but quite the opposite! In an uninterrupted sequence of plot twists and jaw dropping revelations that I will not spoiler, this book is so action-packed it will leave you gasping for air.

A Unique Space for Us is so much more than a fantasy/romance book, if you are willing to read between the lines: the segregation of humans by the Aechaihs recalls very closely the segregation that white people carried out towards the black community – in the US as well as South Africa – something that still has an impact on society today. It’s also led by a very strong female main character who is sassy, black, in her early 40s and absolutely unapologetic about how she lives her life, and God only knows if we need more of these heroines! The narrative is simple, efficient and clear to follow, the story proceeds at a fast pace and glues you to the page. There are the occasional slip ups (for example I would have done with less detailed clothing descriptions and words of endearment such as “baby and sweetheart” between Fellowship and Hyphen), but that perhaps comes down to the fact that this is Monique’s debut novel. These definitely don’t take much away from the story itself that is absolutely brilliant, thrilling, romantic and almost hypnotic.

I really enjoyed this read and I would have probably enjoyed it even more with a nice glass of Zion’s Ink whiskey, as they drink in Trianah. I can’t wait for Monique to give us more!

A Unique Space for Us is available for purchase at:

About Chantell Monique

Chantell Monique believes that love embraces and accepts without conditions, a simple truth found at the heart of her stories. When she’s not creating dynamic couples in magical and contemporary worlds, she’s usually reading or in search of a binge-worthy show. A mental health advocate and self-love enthusiast, Chantell resides in the Midwest with her lovable pooch, Beans (source:


Subs Open – November 2022

Our periodical overview of online magazines & publications accepting submissions

# 1: BABY TEETH JOURNAL | Deadline 21st November 2022

# 2: THE PLAZA PRIZES | Deadline 30th November 2022

# 3: THE PLAZA PRIZES | Deadline 30th November 2022

# 4: CC:ZINE | Deadline 1st December 2022

Note to the above: to access the submissions page you’ll be required to log in with an email address

# 5: QUERENCIA PRESS | Deadline 1st December 2022

# 6: THE PLAZA PRIZES | Deadline 31st December 2022

# 7: PAPERS PUBLISHING | No Deadline, by-weekly publication

# 8: INK, SWEAT AND TEARS | No Deadline


Book Week Scotland: 14-20 November 2022

An annual celebration of books and reading taking place across the country

Organised by the Scottish Book Trust and now in its 11th year, Book Week Scotland aims to encourage people of all ages and walks of life to come together and share the joy of reading.

With over 150 curated events showcasing the best of Scottish literature, from live performances, walks, talks, to workshops and panels, there is definitely something for everybody!

To mark the occasion, the Scottish Book Trust publishes a free book every year, containing true stories written by people all over Scotland which is then distributed to libraries, arts venues, bookshops and schools.

Its creation begins early in the year, through the “Your Stories” writing project, encouraging people to submit their true, personal stories, inspired by a particular theme. The 2022 theme was Scotland’s Stories. Out of hundreds of submissions, 25 stories were selected for publication.

Not in Scotland? Not a problem! Follow the link to browse the digital events taking place – we’ll be connecting to a couple of those ourselves from our mothership in London!


Mark Anthony Powers

In conversation with the author of the Phineas Mann Series

Hi Mark! Let me start this virtual conversation by saying how delightful it was to read your book, Breath and Mercy! I am really glad you sent it to us! It’s clear from the way you built the character of Phineas, who is a doctor, that the story is not only the result of a lot of research. Have you yourself been a doctor at a certain point of your life?

In 2017, I retired from Duke University after a forty-year career in internal medicine, pulmonary diseases, and critical care medicine.  

How and why did this influence the choice of writing a book about it? I know the adagio recites ‘write about what you know’, but why not choosing another subject instead?

I hadn’t written any fiction since I studied creative writing in college. When I began taking classes in 2017 on how to write a novel, the scenes, story arc, characters, and other parts came to me from my many years in medicine. I had so many experiences to draw from. Lots of authors write medical thrillers. How many of them have lived that life?

How much of the book is fiction and how much derives from personal experience? I don’t have kids myself, but I found [SPOILER ALERT] the miscarriage scene an extremely powerful and agonising one, especially the part where the young doctor sat with the premature baby so he wasn’t alone in his first and last moments.

The book is fiction. A few scenes are inspired by my experiences. None are exactly the way it happened. The miscarriage scene is indeed based on a real experience, one I will never forget. I was a 23-year-old medical student.

What did you do before starting your writing career, and what pushed you to put pen to paper and inking it with your stories?

My career in pulmonary and critical care medicine left unexplored parts of my brain. Writing stories was one of these parts. I’d been through enough to begin sharing some of what I’ve learned as novels. My goal was to tell good stories to keep readers engaged while exploring worthy themes like racism, climate change, and the difficult decisions at the end of a life. 

What was the most difficult and the most rewarding moment of your writing career so far?

The most difficult moment came when I launched my debut novel, A Swarm in May. The pandemic made this a Zoom launch. I’m not by nature a performer, so I feared I’d stumble during my first author event. I’m grateful to all the supportive readers who made that night fun. There have been many rewarding moments, especially the enthusiastic reviews. My debut novel, A Swarm in May, scored high enough that BookLife included in their Elite Program.

It’s said, on any creative writing manual, that if you want to be a good writer, you have to be an exceptional reader. Can you tell us something about your reading habits and preferences/dislikes? Feel free to suggest us must-read books, even better if they are self-published!

I’ve loved reading ever since my high school English teacher, Mrs. Clements, set up a quarter during which we just read novels then discussed them with her. No pressure. Just reading and a one-on-one insightful review of a book. Now that I am free of the responsibility of keeping up with the latest breakthroughs in medical literature, I read as many novels as I can. My book club forces me to read nonfiction, but I can’t wait to get back to a classic or contemporary novel. I want to see what makes a book a lasting classic, and I want to see what my fellow living authors are writing (and to support them). I just finished Summer by Edith Wharton (I found it on a bookshelf in our library). Recent great reads included Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles and Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. When the pandemic hit, I figured it was the moment to finally conquer War and Peace.

Which book is the one that touched you the most? And what are you currently reading?

It’s hard to pick just one book that most touched me, but it would have to be The Plague by Albert Camus. If you’ve read it, you’ll know why. To live in its protagonist’s world left me spent but gave me courage. I’ve read it three times, so far. I’m currently reading Beyond the Northlands by Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough for my book club. It’s nonfiction and about the Viking voyages and sagas. 

What are your writing plans for the future? I am already working my way through Nature’s Bite, and I’ll definitely follow up with A Swarm in May (you got me so hooked!).

I’m currently workshopping my first draft of Culled, the sequel to Nature’s Bite, and the fourth in the series. The second draft adds a new character, so I must start at the beginning and fit them in. I wish I’d recommended starting with Swarm and then follow with its sequel, Nature’s Bite, but I do believe that each novel stands on its own. 

Where will you go next? Will you continue with the Phineas Mann saga, or will you go in a totally different direction?

Hopefully, a fifth novel.  Unless I get a great idea for another Phineas Mann thriller, I will go in another direction. I have an idea that won’t be medical, but first I need to finish Culled.

If there’s anything else you’d like to add, please feel free to do so! 

I recently attended the Zoom meeting of a New Orleans book club. They’d read A Swarm in May, and the discussion was great fun. I’m happy to ‘attend’ more events with interested readers. New authors need help in spreading the word about their works. Any help that readers can give is greatly appreciated.

My website: provides more about me (including videos) and gives links to my books as well a way to contact me.

Thank you.