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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

When the weather outside is frightful, Christmas is so delightful...

What? It's only August! It's still high summer!

Yes, that's absolutely the case. But Christmas is coming and the CreativeWritingMatters team - that's Sophie Duffy, Cathie Hartigan and I - have been busy putting together an anthology of short stories, quizzes and puzzles for the festive season that we hope will make you feel all warm and cosy, whatever the weather.

We've written a selection of stories about all the aspects of Christmas that mean most to us. It's the season of goodwill, but at Christmas time there is often some tension in even the most loving families. What about those who have no families? Or who have been let down or hurt at the time of year when everyone feels it's their duty to be positive and happy? What does Christmas mean to them? We would like to share our thoughts with our readers.

As for quizzes and puzzles - we've done our best to make these sometimes easy, sometimes challenging, sometimes difficult and sometimes almost impossible. We hope there's something for everyone there - and, if you just can't get the final answer to the final puzzle, all is revealed at the end of the book.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Valerie Holmes and I celebrate the publication of her new novel

Hello Valerie!
It’s lovely to have you here on my blog today.  Do help yourself to a cupcake. Chocolate or vanilla? I’ll just get the coffee frother going and then let’s talk about your lovely new novel for Endeavour Press: To Love, Honour and Obey.

Oh, a chocolate cupcake would be lovely!
 Please tell us about the genesis of this new novel – who or what inspired it?
The title conjured up the image of a man who had all three qualities, but the last one caused him inner conflict as he desired to be free to choose his own path in life. Beth, by contrast, has love  and life in abundance, but has been forced to obey. So it was one idea feeding into and evolving another.  

Where is it set, and why?
I often set my stories against the very beautiful and dramatic scenery of moor, dale, sweeping bays and the dramatic headlands of North Yorkshire, where I grew up. Great places for action and adventure. The region has a strong history of smuggling in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, which I find fascinating.  
You’ve written lots of short novels that have been successfully published.  This is a longer book.  How different was the writing experience?
It made a change to be able to take the storyline further and spend more time developing my characters. After having had 36 novellas published in print, which I have been uploading as eBooks, it made quite an enjoyable change and challenge.
I know you love history.  What is it about the past that’s so appealing?  Tell us about some historical novelists who have inspired you?  Whose readers do you hope will love your own longer stories?
I like to develop adventure wrapped around a romance or involving a love story. I have been inspired by many authors across the genres: Bernard Cornwell, Conn iggulden, Georgette Heyer, Daphne du Maurier, Diana Gabaldon and of course Winston Graham's Poldark. 
 What is next for Valerie Holmes, fiction-wise?
I am currently working on another novel The Ebton Legacy, which will be set within the North Yorkshire region, and also the second mystery in the Nick Penn series to follow Dead to Sin, called Dead Man's Pain. I also have an entirely new project beginning in 2016 and more titles to prepare of my backlist, so I have a lot more work in progress.
I also have a number of short stories on www.alfiedog.com
As the author of over thirty novels that have been published in paperback, large print and as ebooks, what advice would you give a new writer just setting out on the journey?
Study the markets by all means, but write what you feel passionate about and enjoy the experience. Be determined, dedicated and keep learning as you develop your craft. Keep writing and don't give up if you really want to make it through. 
You teach creative writing.  Do you feel everyone has the potential to become a storyteller?  Or are storytellers born rather than made?
There are many skills a writer that can be taught. However, the imagination and passion have to come from the person. So I believe everyone has the potential to be able to write a story. 
Five Quick Questions
 Do you prefer:
 Cat or dog? Dog
 Town or countryside? Coast :)
 North or south? Ooh - I enjoy both for different reasons. I live in one and enjoy visiting the other.
Present day or the past? Oh, that is easy - definitely the present. I love reading about the past, but prefer to have the creature comforts, technology and freedom of the present day.
Company or solitude? Company - friends and family are very important to me.
Thank you, Valerie.  It’s been great to talk to someone as inspiring as you.  Good luck with the new novel!
Thanks so much, Margaret, for inviting me and for your  support.
Love the adventure!
New book release - buy To Love, Honour and Obey on Amazon!