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, 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?