Welcome!

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.

I hope everyone who reads my posts will find something of interest in them - news from the publishing world, competition guides, author gossip, and updates on my own career.

So please keep reading!

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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Short Story Competition


I hope everyone who reads this blog had a lovely Christmas and will enjoy a peaceful and happy 2012 - let's live in hope, shall we?

What could be a good way to get the new year off to a great start? Maybe winning a short story competition with a cash prize of £200 for the winner and £50 for the runner-up, too? If you could write a story featuring chocolate in some way - eating it, cooking with it, drinking it, plastering it all over yourself or your partner and licking it all off again (I believe some people do this, but I must admit I haven't ever tried it myself), making truffles or Easter eggs out of it, opening a shop selling it, working in a factory making it - lots of possibilities there - please consider entering the Choc Lit competition, which closes on 31 January.

If you do, good luck!

http://www.choc-lit.co.uk/html/choc_lit_short_story_competiti.html

Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Blogmas!


The Choc Lit authors' special Christmas blog begins today - lots of giveaways and tips for a merry Christmas from the Choc Lit gang, so please take a look and join in at http://blog.choc-lit.co.uk.

Only a week to go - am hoping my puddings will get the family's approval this year...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reality


When a novel of mine turns up on Amazon, I start to believe it's real. Yes, I know I've written it, and I've signed a contract in blood, and I've done the initial editing, but I still need to see it on Amazon before I believe it's really going to happen.

This novel is the third story in my Dorset trilogy which began with The Silver Locket and continued with The Golden Chain. The original hardback editions were much shorter and I've added a lot of new material to the paperback versions. As the stories mutated and developed, some elements had to be removed. I don't think I ever want to do this again, because by the end of the process I couldn't really remember what I'd added and what I'd taken away.

But I'm very pleased with the outcome, and I hope my readers will be, too. It's not very long until next May!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Turning Japanese


Last Saturday, I did a booksigning in Abergavenny Waterstone's with Christina Courtenay, which was fun. We handed out chocolates and lollies to shoppers (we're not married to dentists) and they stopped to admire our gorgeous kimonos, which we wore to promote Christina's novel The Scarlet Kimono.

We were so glad we did wrap up warm! The door was open all afternoon, an Arctic wind was blowing through the streets of Abergavenny, and we'd have frozen to death in ordinary clothes.

Most shoppers assumed we were sales assistants and we got asked lots of questions about where they could find jigsaws and perfumes. In a bookshop? Oh, well...

Thanks to lovely Kathryn Eastman for taking the photograph of us.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book of the Month - December 2011


My book of the month for December is Margaret Kaine's 1950s romantic drama Song for a Butterfly, which in addition to being a great romantic read is a compelling snapshot of a time and place which have both vanished forever from the English landscape.

I feel novelists have a duty to record social history, and Margaret does this brilliantly in her series of novels set in the English Potteries.

Here's what Margaret has to say about her inspiration for her fiction:

"It was only when I allowed my imagination to roam free, when I began to use a broader canvas for my writing that I found what editors refer to as ‘my voice’. My novels are all set in the Midlands, with the emphasis on the industrial area of the Potteries with its history and distinctive character. The unique landscape with the blackened kilns and factories is now lost, but the character of its artisans lives on. And the people fascinate me and crowd into my mind, their vivid lives and personalities; paintresses whose life has been one long struggle, master potters, market traders and builders.


"But I love to take my reader out into the wider landscape too. The Midlands also has vast tracts of beautiful countryside and attractive towns. In one of my novels for instance, Roses for Rebecca, I described a romantic scene in Dovedale, taking my couple into the lovely tree-lined gorge with its famous river and stepping-stones.


"I believe in letting fresh air into the reader’s mind, letting them feel the warmth of sunshine with the lightening of mood that blue skies bring. Just as a grey foggy field or a deserted moor can add suspense and even fear to a scene, or a cosy teashop can bring happy memories, so can these shared experiences within a novel bring writer and reader together."