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.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Gilli Allan and Buried Treasure

It's always good to talk to fellow authors and so it's a great pleasure to welcome Gilli Allan today.  Gilli is a much-published novelist whose latest novel is Buried Treasure. So now let's hear about Gilli and  the new book!

Here's the blurb:

Their backgrounds could hardly be further apart, their expectations in life more different. And there is nothing in the first meeting between the conference planner and the university lecturer which suggests they should expect or even want to connect again.

But they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. They both have issues from the past which have marked them and both have an archaeological puzzle they want to solve.

Their stories intertwine and they discover together that treasure isn’t always what it seems.

‘I was delighted to have a pre-publication review for Buried Treasure from the well-known and influential book blogger Anne Williams,’ Gilli told me. ‘Anne says: this is a book that rather defies classification by genre. Although there’s a strong element of romance, there’s a great deal more to its clever construction.

‘Anne’s comments sum up what I try to do in my writing. Love is probably the most important part of life, and reading and writing about a developing relationship is delicious. But, over the years, particularly when I was a teenager and during my early twenties, I read my share of romances about impossibly beautiful and desirable heroines in glamorous jobs, whose only flaw was a tendency to be a bit snippy.

‘Perhaps I’ve a jealous and spiteful nature - I am a Scorpio, after all - but these perfect creatures, pining for aloof heroes almost from the start of the books, increasingly annoyed me. The only reason for engaging with this kind of story is if you care. I found it hard to care about the drop dead gorgeous but misunderstood heroines, and I grew less and less willing to invest the time to discover exactly how the obstacle to ultimate happiness - union with the equally gorgeous, misunderstood but rich, alpha male heroes - would be overcome.

‘I want to read about real people, in real situations, people marked by difficult upbringings and failed relationships, making their way in life. And this is what I write about. All I can do is hope there are some like-minded readers out there.’ 

Gilli began to write in childhood and carried on throughout her teenage years, only to abandon writing when she left home and real life supplanted fiction.

After a few false starts, she worked longest and most happily as a commercial artist, but when she became a mother she began writing again.

Nowadays, she lives in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, and is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has moved into book illustration too.

Gilli’s previous novels Torn, Life Class and Fly or Fall are published by Accent Press and all three have won a ‘Chill with a Book’ award. 

Following in the family tradition, her son - the historian Thomas Williams - is also a writer. His most recent work, published by William Collins, is Viking Britain.

Thank you for being my guest, Gilli. I've enjoyed hearing about your new novel and am looking forward to reading it.

LIFE CLASS:    http://myBook.to/LifeClass
FLY OR FALL:  myBook.to/GilliAllan

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Final Reckoning

It's an exciting day for me featuring the cover reveal of my latest novel and first for Ruby Fiction, The Final Reckoning. I've sometimes included thriller elements in my previous novels, but this one is definitely a full-blooded thriller, featuring a rather horrible murder and its aftermath.

Who knew the peaceful Herefordshire countryside could be so dangerous? Well, actually, in real life it's not, but in my invented village of Hartley Cross there is much to fear.

I sometimes wondered myself if my heroine would get out of the situation alive. Also, what the fallout of a dozen suspicions and revelations might be.

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.