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, 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If we can bear to keep unpublished novels, we should probably do so.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.