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, May 6, 2017

The Exeter Story Prize - the Great Read gets under way...

The Exeter Story Prize has fast become one of the major short story competitions in the UK, attracting entries from all over the world and offering great cash prizes as well as trophies to the winners.

The prize incorporates the Trisha Ashley Award for a humorous story, so as the Big Read of the 2017 entries begins we're hoping to have our ribs tickled by a good few of the entries.

You can find details of past competitions and learn more about Creative Writing Matters here: http://www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk/.

Past winners of our competition prizes include Su Bristow, Simon Kettlewell, Richard Buxton and Clare Harvey, whose fabulous novels you can find on Amazon and elsewhere. We know we're going to discover lots of fresh new talent this month and next. So we're very excited!

Finally - if you'd like to find out what kinds of stories have delighted the judges in the past, check out our selection in this anthology of stories from the 2016 competitions. https://www.amazon.co.uk/2016-Exeter-Story-Prize-Collection-ebook/dp/B01M2CX5J2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1494092308&sr=1-1&keywords=exeter+story+prize

 Good luck to our 2017 entrants!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Girl in Red Velvet

Did you ever make a mistake? A really big, disastrous mistake, followed by a whole series of disastrous mistakes? Lily Denham did.

I'm delighted to tell you that my lovely publisher Choc Lit has produced an ebook version of my latest novel Girl in Red Velvet, in which after many setbacks and challenges Lily finally gets to live the life she knew was right for her all along. Or so she hopes! She won't know for certain until the very last page. 

Lily might be emotionally confused but she is also ambitious and smart and she becomes a successful businesswoman, which goes some way towards compensating for consistently messing up her private life. 

Lily is the granddaughter of Rose Courtenay, the heroine of The Silver Locket, the first novel in my series about the Denham family. Just like Rose, Lily finds she is perfectly capable of making a whole series of wrong decisions and bad choices before she ends up in the place she wants and deserves to be. 

As for the men in her life - there are two of them, Harry Gale and Max Farley, who look very similar but who are completely different in character. Harry is studious, hard-working, ambitious, generous and kind. Max is adventurous, unpredictable and a little bit dangerous, too. So when Lily realises she is falling for both of them, she also realises she's in trouble. 

I so much enjoyed writing this novel, which is partly a tribute to one of my favourite classic authors, Emily Brontë. It could be described as Wuthering Heights fan fiction, but I've tried to give everyone their own special kind of happy-ever-after rather than send them to early graves. This was quite a challenge, but - Lily discovers - a challenge can also fun, can't it? 

The novel is available to buy on all the usual platforms, including:

You can get in touch with me here on this blog or via 


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ready to pitch a novel to a publisher?

Do you have a novel ready to pitch to a publisher? Do you love reading? Do you like to meet authors face to face? Choc Lit, a multi-award-winning publisher of commercial fiction in a wide range of genres with a fan base consisting mainly (but by no means exclusively) of women is going on tour this year, visiting many UK libraries and hoping to meet lots of readers and writers.

The first stop on the tour is Exeter Central Library of 8th April, where editors and authors (including Linda Mitchelmore, Victoria Cornwall, Evonne Wareham and I) will be talking about our work and inviting questions from the audience.

It should be a fun event with plenty of opportunities for audience participation.  There will be prizes and presents and of course chocolate to take home.

Full details are on this link: http://www.choc-lit.com/choc-lit-on-tour/

No PayPal account? No problem! Just contact Choc Lit direct at info@choc-lit.co.uk and say you'd like to come.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Victoria Cornwall - a historical novelist new to Choc Lit, the multi-award-winning publisher of women's interest fiction

Today, it's a great pleasure for me to chat to Victoria Cornwall, whose first historical novel for Choc Lit is published this month.

Thank you, Margaret, for having me on your blog today.

You're very welcome, Victoria. Do have a chocolate cookie and a cappuccino! Now - remind me how we first met?

That was in early 2015 when I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association. At the time, I was pursuing my dream of signing with a traditional publisher. Luckily, I signed with the award-winning publisher of women’s fiction, Choc Lit, the following year. Not bad for someone who was not able to take English Literature as a subject in school.

It's not bad at all! What were you doing before you became a novelist? 

Up to this point, my life had been very different. I grew up on a farm in Cornwall and my childhood was filled with chickens, cows, orphaned lambs, cats, dogs and an albino rabbit named Benjamin. 

At 17, I headed for the big city, trained as a nurse and returned to Cornwall to spend the next 20 years nursing. The role held great responsibility, but it was also very humbling to witness ordinary people showing great courage in traumatic or difficult situations. It certainly gives one a new perspective on life.

What sparked your interest in writing fiction?

A change of career finally allowed me the time to write, something I had always wanted to do. I wrote in secret and didn’t tell my extended family until much later. By then I had self-published two novels and they had both been nominated by InD’tale magazine for the RONE Indie and Small Published Book Award, U.S.A. I was also fortunate to be short-listed for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romantic Fiction, 2014, U.K. I came to realise that I didn’t need to pass an exam in English Literature in order to tell a good yarn.

Who or what inspires your writing?

I guess all writers draw on their experiences of life. For me it’s my experience of Cornish rural life, witnessing the emotions and reactions of ordinary people to extraordinary events, and I'm also inspired by my love of history and romantic fiction. 

Tell us a little about The Thief's Daughter?

My third book, The Thief’s Daughter, is my debut novel with Choc Lit and my first traditionally published book. It is set in 18th century Cornwall, when England is crippled by debt and poverty and smuggling prospers. Jenna has been brought up in a family of thieves; however, after being terrified by a thief-taker’s warning as a child, she has resolved to be good. After being saved from a brutal marriage by her brother, Silas, she finds herself a widow who owes him her life. So when Silas asks her to pay his creditors and secure his freedom from the debtor’s prison, Jenna feels unable to refuse and finds herself entering the secretive and dangerous world of the smuggling trade.

Jack Penhale has spent years hunting down the smuggling gangs who plague Cornwall in revenge for his father’s death. Drawn to Jenna at a hiring fayre, they soon discover that their lives are more entangled than they first thought. As the line between housekeeper and employer becomes blurred, love and loyalty are tested to the limit, while her blood tie tries to tears them apart. 

The Thief’s Daughter is about divided loyalties, family ties and love, but for me it represents so much more. It is a goal achieved and a dream come true.

It sounds brilliant, Victoria!  I'm looking forward to reading The Thief's Daughter very soon and wish you all the luck in the world with this lovely book, which is available here: 


Twitter: @VickieCornwall