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, 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.