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.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Since The Silver Locket came out, I've done quite a few interviews in which I explain why I chose to write about Dorset, why WW1 and on into the Depression, and why three families!

I think this one comes closest to telling all - http://luciewheeler.blogspot.com/2010/09/interview-with-margaret-james.html.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Golden Chain

It's always exciting to see a new cover, and I must say I'm delighted with this one for my forthcoming paperback The Golden Chain, which will be published on 1 May 2011. By then, the snow will have all gone and it will be summer, hurrah!

This novel is the sequel to The Silver Locket and continues the story of a Dorset family into the Depression of the 1930s.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Long time, no blog...

...as my friend and fellow blogger Cathie Hartigan once said. I've had my head down revising a novel for paperback publication, and I find it's always best if you can take a run at these things, because then you're more likely to keep the momentum going.

Of course, life tends to get in the way a bit, and you can't become a hermit for a month without the neighbours wondering if you've died, but this time I managed to meet my target and I'll be able to take Christmas off with a clear(ish) conscience before I do another read through and find all the plot holes I missed the first time around - and break my long, long sentences up a bit.

Apparently, Georges Simenon (the creator of Maigret, the French detective) never revised anything, and Samuel Johnson hardly ever did. I am seriously impressed.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas is coming

Why does December zoom by faster than all the other months of the year? I'm racing to get the revisions of a novel finished by the end of the month, and normally that would seem like plenty of time. But in December Christmas is sitting there like a great beast about to spring, messing up my schedules and fouling up my plans.

Bah humbug - or I wish it could be Christmas every day? A bit of both, actually...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Talli Roland - The Hating Game

Ebooks are here to stay. They've been a long time coming to the mass market, but in the past few months they've definitely arrived. Soon, say the futurologists, we'll all be using Kindles or similar, and the paper book will be no more.

Talli Roland's new novel The Hating Game is in the Amazon Kindle Store right now, is racing up the charts and is my December Book of the Month. You can find it at http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Hating-Game/dp/B004CLYIO2/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1291210467&sr=1-2

Talli is getting masses of positive feedback and lots of great reviews, so it's not surprising to see that the book is doing brilliantly in the Kindle Store today!

But, in case you haven't yet got your Kindle, there will be a paperback edition next spring.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Library Event

I'm delighted to say that the library event on Wednesday went really well. It was lovely to see members of Exeter Writers there - thank you for coming, and hope you had a good time!

Thank you to Margaret Powling for taking photographs.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Library Event - Wednesday 24th November

This coming Wednesday 24th November, Linda Mitchelmore, Sophie King and I will be giving a talk at Exeter Central Library, where we will be chatting about our own careers and offering hints and tips on writing romantic and relationship fiction.

Entry is free, coffee etc will be provided, and we'll be delighted to meet anyone who would like to come along at 2.30 on the day.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Daily Mail

I had a mention in the Daily Mail today and saw the Amazon ratings for The Silver Locket surge - coincidence, or a direct result? It's very pleasing, anyway - especially for a dyed-in-the-wool Guardian reader!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What a relief

I enjoyed doing my book signing today. I even sold some books - so huge thanks are due to my friends who came into the store, to interested customers who stopped, looked and bought a book, and to a certain Richard Madeley, who generously gave me a mention in his show on Radio 2 the previous day.

I think a few customers were expecting to meet Richard in person. Sorry about that, guys! But everyone got a chocolate Hero, even though they didn't meet RM himself.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Saturday - busy day coming up!

On Saturday 13th November, Exeter Writers are launching their diamond anniversary anthology at Exeter Central Library, 11 am - 3 pm - free entry, all welcome, refreshments provided.

Later that day, I'll be signing copies of my novel The Silver Locket in the Exeter Roman Gate branch of Waterstone's, 2 pm - 4 pm. Free chocolate Heroes for all!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Paignton Library - Kate Furnivall

I went to a talk by novelist Kate Furnivall this afternoon, given at the new Paignton Library. What a great space, and what lovely design - it's everything a library ought to be.

Kate's talk was very illuminating, too. She talked about her journey to publication, a path which was liberally strewn with thorns, but her determination and persistence paid off, and her novel The Russian Concubine became a worldwide bestseller. Kate's latest novel The Jewel of St Petersburg is out on Thursday.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Review of The Silver Locket

It's always heartening to read a well-reasoned, fair and informative review, one of which I've just had today. So thank you, Bookbag and Katie, for your review of The Silver Locket! Post-it note to self - Margaret, you can slow down a little sometimes, and let your hero and heroine chill for a while!


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ellen Renner - City of Thieves

Lots of bookish fun today - went into Exeter to hear Ellen give a reading from her latest novel City of Thieves, was hugely pleased by a lovely article about my own new novel in the Western Morning News, and had coffee and a good gossip with three members of Exeter Writers who just happened to be in the Waterstone's Costa coffee shop.

Must go and make some dinner for my visitors now. I can hear clattering in the kitchen. I am a very bad hostess, but when Blogger calls...

You can buy Ellen's new novel on this link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/City-Thieves-Ellen-Renner/dp/1408304465/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1289072231&sr=1-1

Friday, November 5, 2010


It's one of those things authors find really difficult, isn't it? I mean selling themselves, but we all have to do it. On page 44 of December Writing Magazine, which comes out today, authors David C Evans, Christine Stovell and Gemma Burgess share hints and tips.

You can find out more about them and their writing at www.farmerjohnsboots.co.uk, homethoughtsweekly.blogspot.com and www.thedatingdetoxtrailer.com.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Radio waves...

Ooh, exciting day today, went into the BBC Radio Devon studio in Exeter to talk to chat show host Katie Martin, of BBC Radio Solent. Katie was very complimentary about The Silver Locket, and asked me some interesting questions about historical research, which luckily I could answer.

Here's a photograph of me looking as if I do this every day. In fact, I was somewhat terrified and was dreading getting a coughing fit or doing something equally embarrassing, like knocking my cup of tea all over the BBC's expensive equipment. But Katie soon put me at my ease, and everything went well.

You can hear the interview on BBC iplayer - start 35 minutes into the programme.


Monday, November 1, 2010

November Book of the Month - Rosy Thornton The Tapestry of Love

Rosy Thornton's latest novel The Tapestry of Love is the story of middle-aged Catherine Parkstone, who leaves her comfortable existence in England to go and live in the Cevennes region of France.

'I gave my heroine a new career as a seamstress,' says Rosy, who went on holiday in the Cevennes twenty years ago, and never forgot the place or its fascinatingly quirky inhabitants. 'I peopled her hamlet with local farmers and endowed them with deep layers of French reserve. I gave Catherine a tapestry frame and a basket of silks and set her to work. The result was The Tapestry of Love - and it's the story of her slow-growing love affair with the place and its people.'

This is a perfect novel for dark winter evenings in front of the fire, maybe with a cat on your lap and a glass of something red and delicious close at hand!

Rosy's recipes from the Cevennes are available free via her website at http://rosythornton.com

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Student successes

Ooh, not one but TWO of my London School of Journalism students have been offered book deals this month, so I am delighted for them.

I'm forbidden to blog about the details until their families have been informed. But I can't resist having a little crow about it here. Anybody out there considering doing a creative writing course? The London School of Journalism courses deliver results!

See www.lsj.org for more details and lots of happy student feedback.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bury St Edmunds author event

Last Thursday, three of my fellow novelists and I did a Girls Night In event for Waterstones in Bury St Edmunds.

We always want these things to go well, but we're also very nervous about how everything is going to pan out. Well, I'm nervous, anyway! But I needn't have worried. The staff at Waterstones in Bury St Edmunds were lovely, made us all feel very welcome, and the readers were great, too - enthusiastic, interested and happy to ask lots of questions.

We sold some books, too!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cyprus Well interview

Cyprus Well is a West Country resource for authors and anyone connected with literature and the arts.

I'm a member of the Cyprus Well community, and was delighted to do an interview with Alex yesterday.

You can read it on this link: http://www.cypruswellcommunity.org/community/AnInterviewwithMargaretJames.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Platinum Page - a new magazine

I spoke to editor Vivienne Hall, who says:

'Platinum Page is available in print and online. It has proved so popular that the printed copies of each edition have quickly sold out. I have also been overwhelmed by the variety and quality of the work submitted.

'I think the magazine's appeal lies in the fact that we are creating a community of readers and writers. The website is also proving very popular, a forum where everyone can join in. I have now included a story hall where people can read stories online free of charge. The feedback from people who have become involved so far has been fantastic.'

Vivienne has been a writer of fiction herself for over twenty years, and she wants to give more writers the opportunity to allow others to enjoy their work.

'I am after general fiction,' says Vivienne. 'Nothing too heavy, just happy, funny, light-hearted stories, even with a twist in the tale. I enjoy writing that has a local connection.'

Platinum Page is available online at just £2.50 and is delivered to your inbox, or £4.69 in print which includes first class postage.

Stories and poems with a maximum word count of 1,500 words can be sent to
Platinum Page, PO Box 91, Prudhoe, NE42 5AG. Alternatively visit www.platinumpage.co.uk. Work can be submitted by email.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kate Nash - competition shortlist

The shortlist for literary agent Kate Nash's competition to find the best 500 word opening of a novel is now up on Kate's blog.

So exciting, wonder who will win? See http://slushpilemountaineering.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/great-novel-openings-the-shortlist/

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Waterstones Event

I'm going to an author event in Bury St Edmunds on 21st October. Where exactly is Bury St Edmunds? I didn't know until recently! If this event goes well, there might be more, in places I have heard of...

It will be fun to visit a new place.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A lovely bunch of roses

A happy day today!

My author copies of The Silver Locket arrived this morning, looking wonderful. I am especially delighted with all the swirly bits and the image of my heroine Rose on the cover.

If anyone reading this would like a review copy, please let me know and I'll tell my publisher - email me at mail@margaretjames.com

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Getting closer...

It's so exciting when a new book comes out. I've just heard from my publisher to say that the advance copies of The Silver Locket are on their way to me. They'll be on their way to reviewers, too - quake, tremble...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Getting into it....

Just done a word count and find I am 18,000 words into a new novel, hurrah - the make or break point usually comes at round about 12,000 words, so hopefully I am now on a roll and will complete a first draft.

Must keep the momentum going now...

Friday, October 1, 2010

October Book of the Month

My October Book of the Month is crime writer Peter Helton's Falling More Slowly, which is the first story in a series featuring Detective Inspector Liam McLusky. If you're looking for a fast-paced, exciting police procedural, this novel is for you!

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Peter for Writing Magazine, and you can read the interview in the November issue, which is in the shops now.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wedding Day

We sometimes forget that novelists tend to be mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, as well as people who sit in isolated splendour (or in the spare bedroom) spinning stories out of nothing.

I'm a mother as well as a writer so I hope it's going to be okay to put a photograph of my lovely daughter and equally lovely son-in-law on my blog. They got married last Saturday, a great time was had by all, and we wish them every happiness in their new lives together.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Climb every mountain...

Today, I finally decided that yes, I definitely, definitely am going to write the novel that's been simmering at the back of my brain for ages. Well, for a couple of years.

So I made a chapter plan. Making a chapter plan is like arriving at base camp, staring up at the mountain you've got to climb, and wondering if you should just go home again. But at least you've got to base camp. So now, you might as well have a go at climbing the flipping mountain.

I know I must stop looking for displacement activities, but today I realised that Facebooking, Tweeting and checking my inbox every five minutes have a certain charm. Oh, and so does blogging...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rising from the dead

I've been chatting to some writing friends about resurrecting old novels which are quietly mouldering in folders somewhere, or are fast asleep on hard drives. I'm beginning to think that just about every published novelist must have two or three rotting skeletons in his or her cupboard. I don't have any myself, but that's probably because I don't like untidiness and tend to do what I tell all my creative writing students not to do - I throw things away.

If we can bear to keep unpublished novels, we should probably do so. If the one I'm writing at the moment doesn't sell, I'm going to tie it up in scarlet ribbons and put it somewhere safe for my children to find when they are sorting out my estate one day - then they can throw it away...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Heroes and villains

I've just heard that one of my friends has found a perfect role model for her fictional hero - it's Gerard Butler, and I must say I approve.

She recently had an inexplicable passion for some other bloke who is often on the television being rude to perfectly nice people who try to get him to give them his money. But she's now cured - hurrah!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Astonished by Rosie Thomas

I went to an RNA meeting yesterday, and heard a talk by Rosie Thomas, who has won the Romantic Novelists' Association's Major Award twice. So I was already impressed - but wow, what a lady!

My most recent novels are set in Dorset, and to research them I went to - er - Dorset. But Rosie's novels are set in places like Everest (so to research that one she went to Nepal and climbed Everest), in Antarctica (so she went to Antarctica for the summer and stayed with the Bulgarian contingent of the Antarctic Survey), and she's also written a travel book about doing the Peking - Paris vintage car rally (so she did the rally, of course).

The books in question are White, Sun at Midnight and Border Crossing. So that's my reading sorted for the next few weeks.

I was touched and humbled by Rosie's courage, determination and good humour, and I shall never complain about getting lost in Barnstaple again.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I don't know my alphabet. I admit it. I can get as far as G, but then we're into IHLKJNM territory, etc, etc, etc. I know, I know, it's tragic, especially since I am supposed to be a writer. If you're a writer, knowing your alphabet is sort of essential, isn't it?

Anyway, I decided to start a thread about this on Facebook, and have had some interesting private emails in response. It seems I'm not the only one! So a big thank you to all those people who have written to cheer me up by telling me that the order of UWVYXZ confuses them, too.

I did get that right, didn't I?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Big money...

I believe that, word for word, this is the world's most generous literary prize. I don't think I'm going to win it. I don't think I'm even going to enter it.

But somebody has to win, don't they? See http://www.booktrust.org.uk/Prizes-and-awards/Sunday-Times-EFG-Private-Bank-Award. Gosh, wouldn't it be lovely, like winning the Premium Bonds...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Printer's ink...

A fellow writer and I had an interesting morning yesterday - we went to visit a printing works in Exeter, a place where books are born. I last visited a hot metal printing works about thirty years ago and the noise was deafening. Yesterday, there was just a gentle hum.

We've been invited back and encouraged to bring our friends, so hopefully that's what we'll do, one day soon

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Date for diary...

21 October 2010

Girls’ Night In with Choc Lit authors Christine Stovell, Sue Moorcroft, Christina Courtenay and me at Bury St Edmunds Arc Waterstones, at 7 pm. We’ll be chatting about our books and writing careers, answering questions, and wine and chocolate will be provided.

See http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/displayDetailEvent.do?searchType=2&store=447|WATERSTONE%27S%20BURY%20ST%20ED%20ARC&sFilter=1

Do I know anyone in the district? I can't think of anybody! So I'll look forward to making some new friends.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Over the past ten or fifteen years, I must have interviewed hundreds of writers. But today it was my turn to be interviewed. Thank you, Lucie Wheeler, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog and for saying such nice things about me!

See http://luciewheeler.blogspot.com/2010/09/interview-with-margaret-james.html

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rain again...

Goodness, where does it all come from? The rain, I mean - there's no end to it in Devon, but this is after a really dry few weeks in early summer when the soft fruit didn't get enough water and didn't bother to grow.

But bad weather makes it easier to stay inside, and not tug at the manacles which chain me to my PC too strenuously. I've just written a scene in which my characters are walking around in the rain. I wonder if anyone else finds themselves writing about rainy days when it's raining outside, and sunny days when it's sunny?

I can't always do it that way, of course. I'm now writing an article for January's Writing Magazine in which I'm suggesting things writers could do during these dark, cold winter days.

Talk about wishing my life away...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Autumn resolutions...

It's that time of year again, when the children go back to school and the adults breathe a big sigh of relief - unless of course they're schoolteachers, in which case they're probably sighing for other reasons.

If you're one of those people who have always meant to start writing a novel when you have time, do you have time now? Do you need a shove in the right direction? If so, maybe join a local authority writing class, take out a subscription to Writers News - see www.writersnews.co.uk - or find your local writing group and join it, or at least go on its waiting list.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Trade Winds

My September book of the month is Christina Courtenay's unusual and delightful historical romance, Trade Winds.

Set in the early years of the 18th century, this is the story of the Swedish East India Company's first trading expedition to China. The engaging Scottish hero and spirited Dutch heroine make a somewhat cynical marriage of convenience, but during the long voyage to China, and in their personal lives, things don't work out quite how they'd planned. So the reader gets a few surprises, too.

This novel offers the reader something he or she has probably never read about before (well, I didn't know anything about the Swedish East India Company's trade with China, anyway), and a great feelgood romance between two feisty, intelligent and totally captivating characters, whom I found completely believable. I was sorry to part with them and hope I will meet them again in a future story.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tempus fugit...

... or something, anyway. Where does time go? Where has this year gone? Why have I done only about a third of what I was meant to do by the end of July? How do other authors manage to write six novels every year and still have time to paint their nails?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Brit Awards

The Brit Awards website at www.britwriters.co.uk says: we’re happy to tell you that we’re now accepting submissions for BWA Unpublished 2011. The official deadline is 5pm (UK time) on Friday 25 February 2011, but we’re closing the competition once we receive 20,000 submissions.

The website adds: the ceremony for the Brit Writers' Awards Unpublished 2010 took place on Thursday 15 July and our first ever Unpublished Writer of the Year was crowned! Former teacher Catherine Cooper from Shropshire won the £10,000 prize for her children's novel The Golden Acorn: The Adventures of Jack Brenin.

There were lots of other prizewinners, too - so this competition is definitely one for people who are yet to be published to bear in mind!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hard workers...

I think I work hard. Yes, I'm good at kidding myself. But some writers work really, really hard. I've just had a message from Rosie Goodwin, first published six years ago and now writing book nineteen for Headline. Rosie spent a long time in the literary wilderness, writing several novels before she got her big break with The Bad Apple, but since that first novel came out there's been no stopping her, and she's now one of Headline's biggest sellers.

She's a great example of what persistence, determination and talent can achieve, as a quick look at her website at http://www.rosiegoodwin.co.uk will reveal. Rosie has long been hailed as the natural successor to Catherine Cookson, and for once the comparison is justified.

Monday, August 16, 2010

No peace for the wicked...

Sudden panic this evening - had overlooked a deadline (if it's not in the diary, it doesn't get done, but whose job is it to write in the diary, and then to check the diary - mine), so I've had to burn the midnight oil. Sorry, that's a huge cliche, but it's nearly midnight, so please let me off.

Email is a wonderful thing, but the good old days of fobbing people off and blaming the postman are well and truly over - sigh. As far as the publishing trade is concerned, now means yesterday.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Six Little Words

If you'd like to win a place on an Arvon course, all you have to do is write six words! The competition for a six word short story closes soon, but if six words is all you have to write you have plenty of time.

See the link on http://www.arvonfoundation.org/p225.html for details and examples of entries submitted up to now.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Essay Prize

The intellectuals among you might be interested in writing an essay and winning £500? Yes, no, perhaps? Details on this link http://johnsonsocietyoflondon.org/Johnson%20Essay.pdf.

Once upon a time, I used to read the works of the Great Sam of Literature for edification and pleasure, but now I am as old as him, if you see what I mean, I find him somewhat irritating at times. I wonder at Boswell's patience, I really do...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Lovely sunny day here today, so skived off writing and went out. So will have to write twice as many words tomorrow. So perhaps had better go to bed early, then get up early and get going - 3,000 words by lunchtime...

Monday, August 9, 2010

The horrid truth

I was alerted by Liz Fenwick on Twitter to this link http://helpineedapublisher.blogspot.com/2010/08/selling-out.html?spref=tw, which makes rather horrid reading, but am afraid NM might be right.

On the other hand, books DO get published, and new authors who are not already Jordan or David Beckham DO get contracts, so maybe it's not all gloom? I'm going to keep writing, anyway.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Send story out, get cheque by return!

Well, perhaps not quite by return. But if you keep sending out short stories, and they keep boinging back to you, here's a book which might help and comes recommended by Maureen Vincent-Northam.

She says: if your stories have a tendency to wing their way back to you as if on elastic, see http://bit.ly/bOFqO2

When it comes to writing and selling short stories, Della Galton really knows her stuff.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

City of Thieves

Rave review of my August book of the month in the Times today. Amanda Craig thinks it's great, and so do I.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Power of the Cover

You can't judge a book by its cover? Well, maybe not, but the cover is the first thing any prospective reader sees, and so it has to make a good impression. A new website at www.bookalicious-ramblings.net/2010/08/waiting-on-wednesday-historica.html seems to like the cover of my own new novel, The Silver Locket - what a relief!

Christina Courtenay's debut novel Trade Winds certainly has a gorgeous cover, and it also has a wonderful story between those covers. All fans of historical fiction will love it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

More Money for Jam

New competition, closing date 31 August 2010, so get your brains ticking over sharpish! See http://www.wordswithjam.co.uk/#/competition/4539850014. Competition judges say bribes will not be accepted - now, as if anyone would dare...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ellen Renner - City of Thieves

My August book of the month is City of Thieves, Ellen Renner's brilliant follow-up to her bestselling debut, Castle of Shadows.

If you enjoy fantasy with a touch of the Gothic, intelligently written and intriguingly plotted, this novel is definitely for you. It doesn't matter about your age, because this author appeals to readers from 8 to 80.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Timely Reminder

Just been to a talk by another novelist reminding me that heroes of romantic fiction need to have certain characteristics. I'd forgotten some of them, so it's just as well I went to the talk. Now I have a checklist - which I dare say I will lose, but let's hope some of it has sunk in...

My new hero certainly needs drive. What does he want? Right now, he doesn't know, and neither do I. Come on, Muse, do your stuff.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Creative Writing Competition

A new competition dropped into my inbox today - win some books, not cash. But book are good, aren't they?

Jane Bussmann, comedy writer and investigative journalist, has written a new book called The Worst Date Ever, and her publicists are sponsoring a competition for the rest of us to write about our worst dates, too. You only have to write 250 words! Money (or rather books) for jam! Send your entries to theworstdateever@gmail.com by 1 November 2010.

If you'd like to learn more about Jane, visit www.janebussmann.com.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Just finished checking proofs, hurray! So that's done - and it feels wonderful.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


If you can write nonsense, here's a competition that's going to be right up your street! The closing date is coming up soon, but there's still time to enter.

See www.oxfordstorypods.com/nons-comp.html

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Proof reading

Just got a set of proofs to read, so will be going cross-eyed this weekend.

Some people do this for a living, day in, day out. How do they stay sane? I sometimes wonder! You probably don't have to be mad to be a professional proof reader, but perhaps it helps...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Library event

Let's get a bit ahead of ourselves here, shall we - but people's diaries do fill up!

Linda Mitchelmore, Sophie King and I are doing a library event in Exeter on the afternoon of 24th November, when we'll be talking about all aspects of romantic and relationship fiction - short stories, historical fiction, contemporary fiction - so we should be able to cover everything between us.

We'll be inviting lots of questions from readers and writers, and will do our best to help anyone who is trudging along the rocky road to publication, whatever goal they have in sight.

Do roads lead to goals?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rain and spookiness

Oh no, rain again, but it will be good for the garden. It also means I will stay inside and work, rather than go faffing around outside for half an hour, which somehow might turn into four hours...

Today, I had a message from someone who shares a name with one of my heroes - a bit spooky, that. Just as well my hero is tall, dark, handsome, brave, generous, sexy and gorgeous in every way.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

On with the job...

Home again after a welcome break doing no writing and precious little reading, except for the RNA's last Major Award winner, Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon, which was an absolute joy. If you don't think you like dogs, and if you don't want to like dogs, don't read this book, because you'll be instantly converted, like St Paul on the road to Crufts.

I see my creative writing students have been very busy in my absence, so I'm afraid you're going to have to wait a while for your reviews, girls and boys. But I'll get back to you as soon as possible. In the meantime, perhaps you could all go and sit in the sunshine and sip a pina colada?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Playwrights - new opportunity

Pearson Education Ltd is looking for new plays for young people between the ages of 11 - 14, with "high boy appeal" - that is, featuring monsters, werewolves, zombies, vampires, crime and detection. Thse plays are for use in English lessons in schools.

Essential criteria:

Length - 15,000 - 20,000 words
Large number of parts (10 - 30)
Good mix of roles in terms of gender and race
Short scenes
Good pace of action and dialogue
Minimal swearing, no sex, no smoking, no drugs

Send synopses and scripts to:

Louise Morris
Editorial Team Leader
Pearson Education Ltd
Halley Court
Jordan Hill

See www.pearsonschools.co.uk/playssubmissions

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sunshine at last - and something new for writing groups

Hurrah, raspberries are ripening, blackcurrants are getting fat, summer seems to have come at last, but am going to leave photograph of self in winter coat on Facebook page, do not wish to tempt providence.

This came into my inbox today - details of a new website for writing groups, might be of interest to people who can't get to a face-to-face group as often as they would like? See www.ourwritinggroup.com

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rain and bees

Looks like rain - so come on, half an hour of it, please, then I won't have to go outside and water the garden.

This morning I woke up with a new novel buzzing around my head like a bee trapped in a greenhouse. It will have to get in line behind the dozen or more that are already buzzing around in there. I'm sure other novelists know the feeling.

I'm supposed to be a romantic novelist, so why am I going to Caerleon next month to do a crime writing course, and why is the crime novel I have written up in outline gradually but inexorably turning into a romantic novel? Who is in charge, it or me?

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Silver Locket

It's always exciting to see the cover art of a new novel, and this cover is lovely - it's exactly right for the book, it says historical romance, and it should appeal to anyone who enjoys this kind of fiction.

The story is set during the First World War and is - let me quote bestselling novelist Trisha Ashley, who's seen a pre-publication copy:

A dramatic, moving and intensely romantic story set during the First World War, in which a charismatic hero and heroine must fight their own personal battles on many different fronts. A lovely novel by a writer who knows what she is doing, and does it exceptionally well.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The dreaded edit

A lot of authors say the most horrible job a writer ever has to do is write an outline or synopsis. In my opinion, they're wrong. The most horrible job I ever have to do is the dreaded edit. You send your work off to the publisher or editor, and quite frankly you're sick and tired of it by now. You never want to see it again.

But, a few weeks or months later, it boomerangs back to you, covered in notes and queries (such as why do you use the word stupid on every page, stupid?) and pointing out your plot holes, your continuity errors and your general hopelessness.

So, with a sinking heart, you start your long trudge through the work again, seeing things that aren't there and vice versa. It drives you slightly mad.

I'm doing a dreaded edit at the moment, but my editor this time has been quite kind to me and queried only stuff that doesn't make sense or is obviously wrong - oops. So I consider myself blessed.

The kind of editor we all hate is the creative, thwarted-would-be-author editor, who suggests changes just for the sake of it, and generally tries to make the author write a completely different book.

I'm rejoicing that I've got off lightly this time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Taking the plunge

Trisha Ashley's shortlisted novel in the Woman's Weekly competition is pictured on the right. The results will be announced in September. I hate waiting for competition results. I expect the people on the shortlists do, too!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Woman's Weekly Romantic Fiction Award

It's turning out to be a good week for my friends in terms of getting into the national magazines, and it's only Wednesday! Plenty of short stories to choose from, and the current edition of Woman's Weekly features the shortlist of 3 best romantic novels written since 1960, which are EVERY WOMAN FOR HERSELF by Trisha Ashley, A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE by Barbara Taylor Bradford and Linda Gillard's STARGAZING.

Actually, to be honest, BTB isn't my friend. I have never met BTB. But Linda and Trisha - woo hoo, way to go, ladies!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

We have seen the future - and it's trailers...

These days, all writers need to know who their potential readers might be, or at least to hope they have some potential readers. A good way to find out is to generate your own publicity material, and one new method that's catching on fast is the publicity trailer, which might end up opening up a whole new raft (can you open a raft?) of opportunities for wannabe actors as well as established ones.

It's soon going to be imperative that all novelists know people who can make short films and get those short fims in front of potential readers via the web.

Gemma Burgess, a writer of women's fiction, has blogged about her experiences making a trailer on this link: bookbrunch.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5732&Itemid=117 and she tells me she's definitely going to make a trailer for her second novel, because since making her first trailer her sales have spiked rapidly.

So yes, good plan, might not be possible in all cases, though - my own new novel is set during WW1 and I'm not too confident about turning my back garden into a representation of the Western Front.

Pitching your book to publishers - big success story

It's so difficult, or make that nigh on impossible, to get a publisher interested in a book by an unknown author - isn't it? Well, not always! Jackie McGregor had a great idea, pitched it to independent publisher Accent Press, and it was snapped up straight away.

As the primary carer for her parents, who both developed Alzheimer's, raising money for Alzheimer's charities is a cause close to Jackie's heart. Many Alzheimer's victims respond positively to music, so Jackie hit on the plan of asking well known people to tell her about their favourite music and what it means to them. She now has a great collection of quotes, her book They Can't Take That Away From Me will be published next year, and it should raise lots of money for Alzheimer's charities.

There's an article about Jackie and her work in today's Woman's Own.

So, if you have a good idea for a book, if you have faith, vision and determination, get out there and start pitching - it can be done!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Exeter Writers - short story competition results

The results of the Exeter Writers short story competition 2010 are now on the Exeter Writers website at www.exeterwriters.org.uk. Many congratulations to first prize winner Rowena Macdonald - and to all the runners up!

You can read Rowena's winning story on the on the website now.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Hurrah, the sun came out for five minutes this morning, so I rushed outside and took a photograph of my garden, just so that I could be sure summer happened this year. Well, sort of happened...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Creative Writing Course - Exeter

Sophie King, published novelist, journalist and author of many short stories for magazines, is offering a course in creative writing at the Exeter Phoenix Centre in September. Sophie's approach to teaching is down to earth, friendly and accessible. She's a very experienced tutor and a successful writer herself, so she knows what she's talking about!

To book a place on Sophie's course, ring either 07810 480995, or the box office at the Phoenix, on 01392 667080

Monday, June 7, 2010

Winter again

Hmm, looked out of my bedroom window this morning to see summer has packed its bags and gone to Tahiti, and winter has returned in the form of pouring rain and howling gales. My tomato plants look distinctly hacked off.

I blame the people who bought sundresses and sparkly sandals last week. You know who you are!

But the wintry conditions in Exeter meant I had a good excuse to meet up with my writing friends Linda Mitchelmore and Sophie King for a warming lunch and gossip in Strada. So mustn't grumble, eh?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Gorgeous June and Gorgeous Vampires

Where is summer, then? It's not doing very well so far, is it? I live at the seaside, and I needed a padded jacket and winter boots on the beach today.

Today, I asked an editor if the Vampire Craze was over, and she said NO!!! She said she was desperate for a paranormal novel which would take the genre to the next level, wherever that might be.

So, unlike June, vampires and werewolves, or their next generation incarnations anyway, are still hot, hot, hot.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

June Book of the Month

If you love a delicious romantic read with a sharp twist of real-life lemon, All That Mullarkey is the novel for you. Set in the present day, in which real women spend a lot of their time juggling their lives, this story doesn't make light of the problems and difficulties that many of us face. Bad marriage, no marriage, commitment phobia, control freakery - they're all here in a great story that races along, and offers the most satisying but certainly not saccharine of endings.

You can find out more about Sue if you visit her blog at suemoorcroft.wordpress.com/, and you can also find out how a really pro-active author goes about promoting her work - attagirl, Sue! You're an inspiration to us all!

Love in Milton Keynes

If you write romantic fiction, and you live in or know anything about Milton Keynes, this competition might interest you! See link at www.amazing-mk.co.uk/home/romance and get romancing!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Day

Paperback deal for novel The Silver Locket confirmed - it's in the trade press, so it must be true!

See www.booktrade.info/i.php/27468

The novel is on Amazon's UK site for pre-order now, at tinyurl.com/376s7l8

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Happy Endings?

If you're as yet unpublished and want to know the horrid truth about what really goes on in the publishing industry, it would be worth having a read of Trisha Ashley's wickedly funny novel Happy Endings.

In this deliciously entertaining book, romantic novelist and freelance editor Tina Devino tries to point her wannabe clients in the right direction, while also attempting to salvage her own sinking ship of a career.

Trisha is a bestselling novelist herself, and she knows what she's talking about. So read (or listen to - there's an audio version, too) Happy Endings, laugh, wince and be inspired!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Agent Auction

Please help an agent anxious to find the next J K Rowling or
Robert Harris (in screenwriting mode.

See www.societyofauthors.org/noticeboard/blake-friedmann-manuscript-auction-book-trade-charity for more details.

You don't have to be a member of Society of Authors to enter.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Money going begging...

Do all you published authors out there know about Public Lending Right? Of course you do. It's a little present from the government which we authors whose books are in public libraries recive every February, and very welcome it is, too. But if by any chance you're not registered, do it now via www.plr.uk.com. It's been estimated that PLR take-up in the UK is well under 100%. Even if you have only one book in the system, it's still worth registering.

As of this year, UK authors are entitled to receive Irish PLR via www.plr.ie/. But don't get too excited. My Irish PLR this year bought me a new M&S teeshirt, not a Prada handbag!

Published authors can also claim revenue from ALCS, the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society, to which Society of Authors members have free membership. The links you need are www.alcs.co.uk and www.societyofauthors.org.

I save up half of my payments in a special account. They pay for Christmas! Well, that's the theory. But, like most piggy banks, the account sometimes gets raided...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Short story competition - but you'll have to be quick...

On Saturday 15 May the Guardian newspaper announced a short story competition (theme or subject matter - summer) with a closing date of Friday 18 June. So thanks for the short notice, guys...

If you're keen to enter, see www.guardian.co.uk/shortstories and start thinking about summer, which might be difficult as the rain comes down.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New competition - write the first 500 words of a novel, get it read by a literary agent!

Do you have the first 500 words of a new novel handy?

Do you want a literary agent?

If so, see the slush pile mountaineering link in my competitions list on the right.

Unagented writers seeking agency representation are invited to enter this competition run by literary agent Kate Nash. You'll need to send in the first 500 words of your novel.

Entry is free.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chocolate does it for Trisha!

Woo hoo, Trisha Ashley's latest novel Chocolate Wishes has now sold more than 40,000 in paperback and is on re-order everywhere!

Congratulations, Trisha - but please write faster. I've read all your novels - twice. Or even thrice.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ooh, the excitement...

No, not the forthcoming General Election - that's a terrifying prospect, not an exciting one. I'll be voting, of course - we can't have women throwing themselves under horses and not appreciating what they achieved for us. If it hadn't been for Emily and her mates, we women would still be barefoot and voteless, chained to the kitchen sink.

I mean the Romantic Novelists' Association's Summer Party, on Thursday 13 May. This is one of the pinkest evenings of the literary year, and sees the presentation of the New Writers' Scheme Award for a first novel which has been through the RNA's own appraisal service. See, it can happen, first novels do get published, and if you're a romantic novelist the RNA can make your day! See www.rna-uk.org for more details and lots of glamorous (ahem) photographs, coming up next week.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Summer's coming!

Oh yes it is - surely we'll have one this year, won't we? I've just had my hair cut, and if the sun doesn't start shining my neck will get very cold.

So my book of the month for May is Domenica de Rosa's lovely novel Summer School, in which a very mixed bunch of writers meet up in Italy and learn a lot about life, the universe and everything.

Oh, and a bit about writing, too.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The lure of the great beyond...

Well, the beyond my study, anyway. It's been a lovely weekend, and I've had fun with visitors who needed to be taken for scenic walks and then to refuel themselves in Devon pubs - oh, the fatigue, it's really taken it out of me. Or rather, it's given me a glimpse of what retirement might be like. If I live that long...

I'm not looking at the garden any more. It's too tempting, to go out there for ten minutes, ten minutes which stretch into fifteen, into an hour, two hours!

I wonder why we writers, who all love writing so much, are so great at finding ways to avoid doing any writing? I suppose firing up the brain cells every morning is a bit like getting into a swimming pool - agonising at first, but lovely once you're in? It's much easier to loll around on a sun lounger, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yet more competitions...

Here's a link to a competition for unpublished writers in almost all genres, so it's worth checking out. But read the terms and conditions carefully before you get involved, so that you know exactly what you are offering this publisher - and what this publisher is likely to want from you.

See www.kinglakepublishing.co.uk for more details.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Melissa Nathan Award for Romantic Comedy

A bit of vicarious showing off coming along here! I am delighted to see that two of my fellow romantic novelists, Katie Fforde and Trisha Ashley, have been shortlisted for the Melissa Nathan Award this year. It's Trisha's second time to be up for this award, and I am keeping my fingers firmly twisted for both of them.

May the best woman (or man - there's one man on the shortlist) win, but I'm glad I don't have to make the decision!

More information - see breaking news at www.booktrade.info/index.php/showarticle/26794

The New Writer

New season, new competitions, new writing - The New Writer magazine is offering everyone a bargain price subscription right now, and this publication is a great source of competitions, even if you're not a subscriber.

Check out www.thenewwriter.com/subscribe.htm and see what's on offer!

You can try before you buy, provided you send the magazine an SAE.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Even shorter...

If you're into flash fiction, you might like to know about an opportunity to write even shorter stuff - up to 75 words, and you're done.

See www.paragraphplanet.com for more details and get writing?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Calling all flashers

A new competition for flash fiction has just come to my notice, so if you can write a short story in 250 words (or less) this competition is for you!

All details are at www.emeraldwritingworkshops.co.uk.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tax and Horror and Science and Fantasy

Eurgh, start of the new tax year tomorrow, cue for lots of cursing and moaning as I search for all my receipts, and make a resolution to have everything filed and ready for action on 6 April 2011...

Anyone out there write science fiction, horror or fantasy? There's a new competition for fantasy, horror and science fiction shorts - see www.absentwillowreview.com/contest which looks quite interesting!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A great romantic read...

If you enjoy a great romantic read which will have you reaching for the Kleenex but in a good way, I recommend Mary Nichols's RNA Major Award longlisted family saga The Summer House, which is available as a hardback, paperback and in several audio versions, and is my April book of the month.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Short story competition - closing date coming up soon!

Anyone out there intending to enter the Exeter Writers Short Story Competition? If so, the closing date is coming up soon - it's 31 March 2010. All the details are on the Exeter Writers website at www.exeterwriters.org.uk.

Friday, March 26, 2010

New season, new titles...

Well, it's officially spring, although you wouldn't know it here in Devon, where it's raining all the time and blowing a gale.

But the great thing about spring is the new novels that come thudding through my letter box from editors and publicists hoping for a mention in Writing Magazine. Here are two first novels that are worth your attention - Christy Lefteri's moving story set against the background of the Graeco-Turkish conflict in Cyprus in 1974, A Watermelon, A Fish And A Bible, and David Abbott's The Upright Piano Player, about family break-up, loss and reconciliation.

They're both available to pre-order on Amazon now at www.amazon.co.uk.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Harry Bowling Prize 2010

The Harry Bowling Prize for 2010 has been won by Debbie Johnson with the opening of her novel Fear No Evil. The runner up is John Barfield, whose novel is entitled Sunrise.

You can read more about the Harry Bowling Prize and see who else was on this year's longlist at www.harrybowlingprize.net

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nigel Farndale in Writing Magazine

The April edition of Writing Magazine has just hit the shops, and contains an interview with novelist and journalist Nigel Farndale, whose novel The Blasphemer is currently getting rave reviews on Amazon.

Quite right, too. It's a complex, multi-stranded story which asks one of the all-time big questions. If you were ever in a life or death situation, if you were tested and you failed, how would you cope with the fall-out?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Be afraid...

I always have several novels on the go at any one time, and late last night I finished reading Jane Fallon's second novel Got You Back, which I thought was probably going to be a light romantic comedy, but which turned out to be much, much darker and more frightening than any romantic comedy I've ever read.

All those wives of cheating husbands out there - be inspired.

All those cheating husbands - be afraid. Be very afraid.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

New month, new novels...

I've just come back from a few days away from home to find a big pile of post, an even bigger pile of virtual post, but some nice surprises, too. The Loves Me, Loves Me Not book signing which Linda Mitchelmore and I did in Paignton last month is featured in the March edition of Devon Life, and spring is a great time for new novels. As a novel-reading junkie who can never get enough, I'm looking forward to a delicious few weeks.

I've just started reading Trisha Ashley's latest, Chocolate Wishes, which is a delightful romantic comedy, and I wasn't surprised to learn that last year Trisha was shortlisted for the prestigious Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. You can find out more about Trisha if you visit her website at www.trishaashley.com.

I'll also be reading David Nicholls's One Day and Matt Lynn's Fire Force - there's nothing like variety!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Literary fiction...

What is a literary novel?

I've just looked up a definition of literary fiction on Wikipedia, and quite honestly I'm no wiser, except that it would appear genre and popular fiction can't be literary. But where do genre and popular end, and where does literary begin? Also, do these distinctions apply to writing for children?

I suppose people who call themselves literary novelists must know what they mean by literary fiction?

I just wish one of them would explain to me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Over the years, I've been a reader or an administrator or an organiser or (once in a while) a final judge for many writing competitions, and I'm wondering what the best time to send in entries might be?

At the beginning, when the competition opens, so you get in first?

At the end, during the final mad rush?

At the half-way stage, when the entries are probably flowing in steadily, and the readers are busy but not overwhelmed?

There's a competition for stories suitable for radio starting again soon - entries are going to be accepted from spring onwards. See www.shortstoryradio.com for details, and it's free to enter if you join the Short Story Radio Writers' Club.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Why did God create novelists?

Well, absolutely nobody knows the answer to that one, do they?

So let's just say we exist, and it's a fact.

What do novelists do all day? I'm a novelist, so I should know, but sometimes it's hard to explain.

We sit at our desks staring into space - this is called thinking and planning.

We look up a word in a dictionary or we Google something, and three hours later we are still reading the dictionary or Googling - this is called researching.

We write 3,000 words one day and delete them all the next day - this is called drafting and redrafting.

We suddenly start typing as fast as we can, wanting to have a panic attack but not having the time - this is called racing to meet a deadline.

So we think, we plan, we research, we draft, we redraft, we meet our deadlines.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Brit Writers' Awards Competition - but hurry...

This appeared in my inbox today - not much time left...

Brit Writers’ Awards Unpublished 2010
Could you be the UK’s next writing star?

National submissions deadline: 5pm, 26 February 2010.
Categories include: Poetry, Novels, Short stories, Children’s stories, Songwriting and non-fiction. Self-published authors are eligible.
With just 14 days to go to our national submissions deadline of 5pm, February 26th please ensure that your family, friends, members, reading & writing groups are aware of this important national writing initiative!

Have a look at our latest e-bulletin which will give you an update on BWA activities across the UK and opportunities for getting involved:
If you would like to play a more active role in the BWA please get in touch with us on 0871 237 4442 or enquiries@britwriters.co.uk

For further information and to submit entries please go to our website: www.britwriters.co.uk.

Unpublished Writer of the Year 2010 - £10,000 cash prize and your work published!
Winners will be announced at the Gala Awards night on 26 June 2010 at the O2 London.

On behalf of the Brit Writers’ team… best of luck with your entries!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Loves Me, Loves Me Not - more excitement...

Great - there's a five star review of LMLMN in Heat today, and my story gets a mention. Or anyway, there isn't another story about a rugged delivery boy and a lonely housewife! So thank you, Heat - does this mean the RNA is cool?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Loves Me, Loves Me Not

Loves Me, Loves Me Not launch in Paignton, Devon, on Monday February 8th 2010:

Linda Mitchelmore and Margaret James write:

As contributors to the RNA’s golden anniversary anthology of short stories, Loves Me, Loves Me Not, we were delighted to be invited to the Torbay Bookshop in Paignton to meet readers and other writers, and to sign copies of the anthology.

Although the day of the signing turned out to be as cold and wet as most English winter evenings, dozens of people came along to see us and buy books. Torbay Bookshop owners Sarah and Matthew made us very welcome indeed, and provided wine and fruit juice for everyone.

The Torbay Bookshop is one of the most successful and most highly-regarded independent booksellers in the whole of the UK, and we were thrilled to be able to take part in an event in such a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Book signing - Loves Me, Loves Me Not

Prolific short story writer Linda Mitchelmore and I will be signing copies of the RNA's 50th Anniversary Anthology at the Torbay Bookshop in Paignton, Devon on Monday February 8th at 6 pm. We'll be delighted to meet anyone who would like to come along to see us and have a chat.

The anthology, entitled Loves Me, Loves Me Not, and published by Mira at £7.99 in paperback, contains 44 short stories by star authors such as Joanna Trollope, Katie Fforde and Trisha Ashley, but there's plenty of new talent in it, too.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fantasy, alternative reality...

What is it about the present day that people seem to hate so much? We've got antibiotics, we've got mobile phones, we've got central heating, we've got Tesco - but today I've had five letters from new students or prospective students who are all writing or who want to write fantasy.

I don't write fantasy myself, but I must admit I love to read it. Or perhaps I should say I love to read alternative reality - I'm currently working my way through the Twilight series, and I'm a huge Harry Potter fan!

But I also enjoy a story which tells me something about real life, and which suggests how I could live my own life more profitably or successfully. I don't actually need to read about vampires, elves, werewolves and trolls.

When we escape into fantasy worlds, are we taking a welcome break from reality, or are we actually running away from real life?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ellen Renner - Castle of Shadows

Ellen's book signing in Exeter today went really well. Ellen read some of Castle of Shadows to a large and appreciative audience, and the wine and fruit juice flowed!

There's a very complimentary review of the novel in today's Times, so this is one first novel that's definitely got off to a flying start.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Giselle Green - novelist and astrologer reaching for the stars!

Novelist and astrologer Giselle Green's new novel A Sister's Gift is out now, published by Avon at £6.99 and climbing high on Amazon - see www.amazon.co.uk. There's an interview with Giselle in March Writing Magazine, which is published next week.

When I spoke to Giselle, I couldn't believe how much she manages to pack into her busy life. She's the mother of six boys, has no paid help in the house, writes bestselling novels, and still maintains her interest in astrology. But she didn't have it easy at first - she wrote several apprentice novels before she got her first contract with Avon.

Giselle has a fascinating website at www.gisellegreen.com, through which you can order signed copies of her book The Writer's Guide to the Zodiac.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New books from Sue Moorcroft

My fellow LSJ tutor Sue Moorcroft, who is also the joint editor of Loves Me, Loves Me Not, tells me she is delighted with the sales of her new novel Starting Over and her new how-to book Love Writing, which are both available now on www.amazon.co.uk.

'Well, having two books out at once is good fun!' says Sue. 'I've recently heard that Starting Over and Loves Me, Loves Me Not are in a 'Just in!' display in WHS in Jersey. Starting Over is in the 'Great Read - Satisfaction Guaranteed or your money back!' promo in WHS for a couple of weeks, which means it's half price, and it's stickered! I've never been stickered before. Amazon has dropped its price for Love Writing to £5.98, and it's part of Accent Press's 3 for 2 on their writing books.'

There'll be an interview with Sue in the May edition of Writing Magazine.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Exeter Writers Short Story Competition

I mentioned this in passing a week or two ago, but my students often ask me to jog their memories about any competitions coming up, so here's a reminder about this one!

Exeter Writers is holding its second short story competition this year, and the closing date is Wednesday March 31st. So you have just enough time to write and send in a really good short story. All the entry details are on the EW website at www.exeterwriters.org.uk.

There are some good cash prizes, and the winning entries will be published on the EW website. So successful entrants will win both money and fame!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fantasy, crossover...

These days, we hear a lot about crossover novels that both children and adults love. Obviously, that's the way to go - if you can write a story that delights people of all ages, you're going to have the widest possible reader-appeal. Fantasy novelists seem to be especially good at creating crossover story lines.

Debut novelist Ellen Renner has written the perfect crossover novel. It's an exciting, atmospheric story called Castle of Shadows, is published by Orchard, and it's on www.amazon.co.uk now. It's already had some very good reviews.

Ellen is having a launch party at Exeter Public Library on Saturday January 30th at 1 pm. So, if you want to meet a new author, and if you live within travelling distance of Exeter, put the date in your diary!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I have just remembered I am doing a book signing at the Torbay Bookshop in Paignton on Monday February 8th at 6 pm. So I had better get my glad rags out and try to look like a real author. I didn't write the whole book myself, I must confess. Just one story...

The book in question is the RNA's anthology of short stories entitled Loves Me, Loves Me Not, published by Mira. It's a beautifully produced paperback priced at £7.99 and would make a great present for any woman. I've bought one for my sister, so she'd better say she loves it!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I've just finished writing an article about villains in fiction. As I was writing, I was trying to identify a particular vice which they had in common. I finally decided this vice was a willingness to give in to any kind of temptation.

So, since I don't want to be identified as a bad guy myself, I suppose one of my new year's resolutions should be to resist temptation in all its forms.

I'd better stop buying chocolate, then...

Friday, January 15, 2010

More competitions

There's a message in my inbox today from The New Writer magazine, which runs lots of writing competitions. Here's what you need to know:

TNW hosts major annual international competitions for short stories, novellas, single poems, poetry collections, essays and articles. It offers cash prizes as well as publication for the prize-winning writers in The Collection, the special edition of The New Writer magazine which is published every July, and back copies are available on TNW website.

Further information including guidelines and entry fees at: http://www.thenewwriter.com/prizes.htm

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Snow, snow, go away...

It's stopped snowing for five minutes - amazing. I hope the snow stays away. When I moved to Devon, I thought I'd seen the last of it, but apparently not. I'm too old to get excited about walking in a winter wonderland and falling flat on my face in the process.

Short story writers may like to know that Exeter Writers is hosting its second short story competition this year. The closing date is Wednesday March 31st, and the rules and an entry form can be found on the website at www.exeterwriters.org.uk.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Family values

My daughter and grandbaby arrived here from Minneapolis yesterday, taking a fortnight's respite from the horrible Minnesota winter, but I think it's as cold here as it is in Minnesota, so they might have slipped up there. At the moment, they're still sleeping off their jet lag, so maybe I will go and give them a shake...

I'm up to 3,000 words with my new novel, and - just to keep myself motivated - have booked myself on to a writers' holiday in Caerleon - see www.writersholiday.net - in July. I'm hoping to have a first draft to take with me to Wales! I've never been to Caerleon before, but this particular writers' holiday has had brilliant feedback from other authors, and the speakers sound interesting, too.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Shiver, freeze...

It's even colder in Devon today. But this gives me a good excuse to stay inside and get on with a new novel. It's very tempting to spend a Sunday afternoon slobbed out in front of a favourite film with a big chunk of Galaxy and a mug of hot chocolate. But this year I am going to be disciplined and get on with my work, because nobody can read a novel I haven't yet written, can they?

I do a lot of author interviews for Writing Magazine, and I regularly talk to first time novelists such as Gemma Burgess, whose romantic comedy The Dating Detox is published by Avon. The interview is in the February edition, out now - and there's also a profile of American author Susan Palmquist, who was longlisted for the 2008 Harry Bowling Prize and is now a published novelist.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Life experience

It's always interesting to see what my creative writing students do in their real lives. At the moment, I have students who are lawyers, doctors, television scriptwriters, musicians, journalists and landscape gardeners, which all sound like really rewarding careers to me, but they all want to become novelists, too.

What is it about seeing your name on the spine of a book that is so attractive? I wish I knew, but I do remember carrying my first published novel around in my handbag and showing it to everyone I met.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Money, money, money...

The UK results for public lending right payments to authors are on line for any authors who are due to receive payment to view today. When I first started writing, I didn't know about PLR, and since publishers and agents don't get a cut, they never seem to be in any rush to tell authors about it.

So don't let anything you're owed slip through your fingers. If you have published a book, and it's in UK libraries, register it for PLR. If you're not a member of the UK's Society of Authors, consider joining if only so that you get free membership of the Author's Licensing and Collecting Society, which will bring in money from sources such as Irish PLR and photocopying fees. If you don't think anyone ever photocopies your work, you might be in for a surprise!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Harry Bowling Prize for New Writing

Harry was a hugely successful author of Cockney sagas, and after his death his publisher and agent decided to set up a literary prize in his memory. It's quite hard to find novel-writing competitions. There are zillions of short story competitions out there, but very few for aspiring novelists.

If you're an aspiring novelist, it might be worth checking out the Harry Bowling website at www.harrybowlingprize.net. The longlist for the 2010 prize is published today, but there will be a new competition in 2012, so you have plenty of time to get that novel started.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ebooks - the future of reading?

How do I feel about ebooks?

Like most of us, I do love to have a real book in my hands, and I treasure some old favourites which I've had for twenty years or more and are falling to pieces, but seem like old friends. I can't imagine feeling like that about an electronic download.

But ebooks do seem to be the future of reading, they don't need to be warehoused or transported in great big trucks, and they will certainly save the lives of a few trees.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New books, new students...

I see that today my inbox is full of messages from my creative writing students, who are all set to make this the year they get seriously published. I'm going to do my best to help them succeed.

Anyone who has decided that this year they are going to write a great romantic novel should get their hands on novelist Sue Moorcroft's Love Writing - How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction, published by Accent Press and on Amazon now, or can be ordered from Accent Press at www.accentpress.co.uk at £9.99.

As for me - I have articles to write and authors to interview for Writing Magazine, so busy, busy, busy...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Lovely surprise

Good start to 2010 - the UK's Woman and Home Magazine says my novel Elegy for a Queen is one of the best time-slip novels, so am I delighted? I think I must be! See http://www.womanandhome.com/articles/travelandentertainment/books/385161/5-best-time-slip-novels.html.