I've set up this blog so that all my friends, relations and colleagues in the world of writing can keep up to speed with what I'm doing - from now on, I'll never have to say sorry for not keeping in touch.

Or anyway, that's the plan.

So do please link up with me on Facebook and Twitter - https://www.facebook.com/margaret.james.5268 and https://twitter.com/majanovelist

You can find my novels as digital downloads on Apple iTunes, Kobo, Kindle and Nook, and most are available as print paperbacks, too.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Circle of Nine - the author Cherry Gilchrist talks about her latest title

Hello, Cherry! 

Thank you for visiting my blog to chat about your new book The Circle of Nine, which I understand hits the shelves on Sep 1st in the USA, and shortly afterwards in the UK? Please tell us a little more about it?

'It will be a pleasure. The Circle of Nine describes nine feminine archetypes, and how they relate to our own lives. I first came across "the nine" in the 1980s when I was in the company of other women looking for a new approach to feminine spirituality, but I soon realised it would need to be an approach that tied in with busy lives and modern expectations. I did in fact write an earlier version of the book, but this one really is new, much expanded, and I now get to include my experience as a grandmother, too!

'Our original "Nine Ladies" group was named after a stone circle in Derbyshire, but I’ve now discovered that a ‘circle of nine’ has long been a kind of magical template for women  working together, both in myth and in history. It’s all in the first chapter of the book.

'I knew I wanted to be a writer from the age of about four, but I imagined that I’d write wonderful stories for children. During my teenage years I became a contributor to Jackie magazine, and also to the Poetry Review. But I’ve ended up writing mainly what I call "creative non-fiction". As the biographer Michael Holroyd says, non-fiction is such a dismissive term, so I feel we should try to improve its image! Almost everything I write about, in the thirty-plus books published, is personally researched. Since this stretches from Love Begins at 40 to Russian Magic and Grow Your Family Tree, I’ll leave you to imagine how this works! You can find out more at www.cherrygilchrist.co.uk.

'I write in cycles, in waves. When I’m going at full tilt I might work up for up to four or five hours, and then I do something different for the rest of the day, such as walking, browsing charity shops or gardening. Writing a book is like giving birth – when the book’s done I say never again! But then I forget the struggle and pain and start another one.'

The Circle of Nine: An Archetypal Journey to Awaken the Divine Feminine Within by Cherry Gilchrist (Weiser Books) www.amazon.co.uk/Circle-Nine-Archetypal-Journey-Feminine/dp/1578636329/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535221868&sr=8-1&keywords=cherry+gilchrist

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Novelist's Workbook

It's been a while since I've posted anything on this blog, but my excuse is that I've been busy writing one novel, editing another novel, and co-writing a guide to writing novels with my writing partner, the novelist Cathie Hartigan.

At last, The Novelist's Workbook is up there on Amazon, ready for readers to download for the coming academic year. The link you'll need is below. We hope this new guide will inspire writers who are facing the challenge of starting a first novel or maybe getting going on a new one. Our intention is that anyone who reads this guide will, like the toy astronaut on the front cover, want to reach for the sky!

Planning, sketching out or plunging straight into a novel is a big challenge, but we are confident that with our help you'll get there.


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Exeter Novel Prize - The Results

Gosh, it's been a long time since I wrote anything on this blog.

But at last I do have news!

Today was a chilly one in March, but inside the Devon and Exeter Institution it was warm and cosy as Cathie Hartigan, Sophie Duffy and I welcomed the shortlisted entrants for the 2017 Exeter Novel Prize, and also our brilliant final judge, the London literary agent Broo Doherty.

The six shortlisted novels were chosen from an overall entry of almost 300, so to have a novel in the final six means it's definitely a winner. Today, four of our shortlisted entrants were able to come to the awards event. Left to right: Lucy Flannery (runner-up, Wedding Stakes), Louise Farr (runner-up, Thaw), Broo Doherty (final judge), Sarah Hegarty (runner-up, The Leopard's Daughter), and E J Pepper (winner, Mr Whitaker). The two other runners-up, John Kennedy (The Trauma Pool) and Louella Bryant (Cowboy Code), were unable to make it, but I'm sure they were with us in spirit. Everyone in the shortlist received a trophy and a cash prize.

Our poor winner is looking rather stunned, but we can assure you she was delighted to have won. Here she is with her trophy, looking very happy indeed!

The Exeter Novel Prize is organised by Exeter-based company CreativeWritingMatters, whose director Cathie Hartigan leads a team of three, the other members being Sophie Duffy and I. Although the awards for 2017 have been made, we're now gearing up to reading for our annual short story competition and also for the launch of the Exeter Novel Prize 2018. You can find out more about CreativeWritingMatters and all our previous and current competitions here: www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk.

Left to right: Cathie, Margaret, Broo Doherty and Sophie.

The Exeter Novel Prize is a Devon-based initiative, with the first prize of £500 being generously sponsored by our local writing group, Exeter Writers. More information about Exeter Writers can be found here: http://www.exeterwriters.org.uk/

As I've mentioned above, our awards event today was held at the Devon and Exeter Institution: http://devonandexeterinstitution.org/, a historic private library in Exeter's Cathedral Close. The DEI holds regular events which are open to the public and anyone wishing to join the DEI as a member is welcome to apply.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Exeter Novel Prize 2017 - Still Time to Enter!

Hello writers - have you been busy over the Christmas period, reading and writing? Or have you been slaving over the traditional, iconic hot stoves, changing sheets, washing towels, ferrying children to play dates and other dates, and having hardly a moment to think, let alone write?

The Exeter Novel Prize 2017 closes on 1 January 2018, so there is still time to enter. The first prize of £500 is generously sponsored by Exeter Writers, a long-established, city-based group, and there are lots of runner-up prizes and trophies as well.

Previous winners include now-published novelists Clare Harvey (Simon and Schuster) and Su Bristow (Orenda), and many of the shortlisted and longlisted entrants are now commercially published, too.

Nowadays, any kind of competition success looks good on an author's CV! So maybe follow the link below to check out the details? http://www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk/2017-exeter-novel-prize.html

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Meeting and Greeting

As a novelist, I spend quite a lot of time in the company of imaginary people. So, once in a while, it's good to get out in the real world and meet some real people.

Yesterday was a lovely event at which I met readers and other writers from various locations all over Devon, made some new friends and hopefully found a few new fans, too.

This is a photograph of yesterday's event at the Devon and Exeter Institution, a historic library on the Cathedral Green in Exeter. Its magnificent Georgian roof lantern recently been restored to its former glory and now sheds a mellow light on everyone in the library below. The DEI is well worth a visit. It's a privately owned building but there are many events (like yesterday's) which are open to the public and they're held all year round.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Exeter Novel Prize 2017

It's autumn, the evenings are getting dark and cold, so what better opportunity could there be to write (or at least to start) that novel that's been buzzing round your head like a mad bee?

The Exeter Novel Prize is an international award which has paved the way to commercial publication for many of its winners and shortlisters and longlisters. Our first and second overall winners - Su Bristow and Clare Harvey - are now doing really well and we are sure they both have long and distinguished literary careers ahead of them.

There are plenty of cash prizes, including the first prize of £500 generously sponsored by Exeter Writers.

So - how about it? You have a few months in which to write, polish and submit those first 10,000 words!


Monday, May 29, 2017

Welcoming debut children's writer Daniel Riding today!

Hello, Daniel! I'm so pleased we could meet up today. What a splendid photograph of you, looking very bookish and authorly!

But now please put your books down, help yourself to cookies and make yourself comfortable, then we can have a good natter.

Hi Margaret, thank you so much for inviting me. I am super chuffed to be here.

I loved your book The Secret Diary of a Naughty Cat. As a cat slave myself, I could identify with the naughty cat and also with the cat’s own slaves. I hope you won’t mind answering a few questions for me?

You can ask whatever you would like!

Okay! So - what inspired you to write your book?

I’ve always wanted to write and have tried my hand at writing different things. I made the mistake of looking at publisher callouts/submission calls and trying to write something to fit what they wanted. But I learned that it is always best to write for yourself first. I want to write Fantasy and Paranormal Romance at some point, but I have had a few ideas for children’s books swirling around my head for ages. Plus I have two naughty cats of my own who have given me plenty of inspiration over the years.

Please tell us a little about The Secret Diary of a Naughty Cat?

The Secret Diary of a Naughty Cat is literally about a naughty cat. The idea came from watching my cats do some very naughty things and I wondered if there was a thought process behind it. Haha. Were they just daft or being calculating? This is the first book of a planned series and it focuses on some of the naughty things Naughty Cat thinks up and acts out on her poor unsuspecting humans.

It’s a fun little book that has had a couple of lovely reviews so far, and I will be writing further books.

How long did it take you to write the book?

In all honesty, not really that long. As a starting book it is only a short one, and I had so much fun writing it so the actual writing of it happened quite quickly and smoothly. I did plenty of planning beforehand to work out what I was going to write about and what further books could entail. I have tried just writing without plans before but I have a short attention span and can end up writing myself down the wrong road and off a cliff. So a little bit of planning and note-making helps me keep on track. Well, sometimes.

Your Naughty Cat clearly despises dogs!  Any chance of you writing a companion volume to the cat’s diary and letting a dog put its own point of view?

That certainly is something I have thought about for sure, it’s a known fact that cats look down on dogs as lesser creatures. Haha. I do have plans for a number of ‘Diary’ inspired books, as well as more animal based stories.

I have two cats myself so will be introducing a second cat in a later book of the ‘Naughty Cat’ series for sure. I still have plenty of inspiration from my two little trouble makers.

How do you plan a typical writing day – that’s if you ever have such a thing?  Do you ever have days off from writing on which you don’t write anything at all and don’t even think about your work-in-progress? How do you fit writing into your life?

I don’t really have a typical writing day in the official sense, I have more of an accidental routine. I either head to my desk in the morning with the intention to write, but I then have a faff about on social media, checking emails etc. I give myself plenty of chances to wake up as I am not a morning person at all.

I have found recently it is best for me to plan a little bit just to keep me on track and keep focused. I have to write down any idea I get that looks shiny and exciting, otherwise I forget the one I am currently meant to be writing.

At the moment, because I’m excited about writing this series and publishing my first book, it seems to be taking up the majority of my thoughts. In quite an obsessive manner. I’m quite lucky in that I currently work in Waterstones in Liverpool which is only part time which works out really well. It gives me plenty of time to write when not working, and I’m lucky that I love my job in a fabulous bookstore.

Who are your favourite/inspirational writers?

When I was growing up I loved Enid Blyton, in particular The Magic Faraway Tree series, and Naughty Amelia Jane. For Fantasy books I love V.E. Schwab and Sarah J Maas. For Paranormal Romance I am obsessed with J.R. Ward.

Please give me some contact details so readers can get in touch with you?

You can find me onTtwitter and Instagram with the username @danielriding
On Facebook my official page is Daniel Riding Writer

To buy my book you can find it on Amazon: