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.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Flash fiction competition

Flash fiction is gaining in popularity all the time, but just because it's short it's not necessarily easy! I'm judging a competition for my fellow Writing Magazine columnist Lorraine Mace in April, and you can find the details on this link:


Plenty of time, closing date not for a while yet.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Well of Silence

Sometimes, a novelist's life is not a particularly glamorous one.

Yes, we spend most of our time at book launches and parties and gala lunches and book award ceremonies and hanging around the Groucho Club drinking martinis. I don't deny it.

But sometimes - just sometimes - we have to do some writing.

Then, worse - much worse than that - at some point we have to Do Our Edits.

I've yet to meet a novelist who enjoys doing edits. This is probably because they usually have to be done very quickly, and because our editors suddenly find things which are wrong, which we hadn't noticed, but which now have to be put right, and smartish, too.

I'm in Dreaded Edit Land right now, and finding all sorts of things which need changing. So I'm doing my best to crack on, stay cheerful, and meet my deadline.

I need a double gin.

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Year Resolution

I don't usually make new year resolutions. I've found I can't keep them. But this year I've resolved to try reading novels which are outside my normal comfort zones of relationship fiction in all its forms but mostly by female novelists, historical fiction, Top Ten bestsellers (if so many people love them, they must be good) and Richard and Judy choices, which always look so irresistible in WHS.

I've never read a Western, so I'm going to try a couple. I've never read a menage novel, so I'll read one of those (note to self - buy fan to cool fevered brow while reading menage fiction). I've never read any homoerotic fiction, so I'll give that a go, too, because one of my former creative writing students has recently started writing it, and he's gradually becoming very successful (I expect I'll still need that fan).

I'm also going to dive into literary fiction, the stuff that wins the Booker Prize, and tackle Possession and The True History of the Kelly Gang. I don't usually get on with Booker winners. Anne Enright's The Reckoning and Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children did nothing for me. But I'm going to try harder this year.

I'm also going to try re-reading The Lord of the Rings, but am anticipating finding it drags a bit. Or a lot. I am NOT going re-read any complete Harry Potters yet again - must cure myself of that addiction. But, if I'm ever feeling ill or down, I expect I shall allow myself to revisit my favourite bits.

I've read some great novels in 2011, and here are some of my recommendations:

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Lost Christmas by David Logan

The Untied Kingdom by Kate Johnson

Bereft by Chris Womersley

The Generation Game by Sophie Duffy, my Book of the Month for January

I'm not sure if the Westerns are going to measure up!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Book of the Month - January 2012

My book of the month for January is The Generation Game, a wonderful first novel by Sophie Duffy.

It's about a child growing up in an extended family in which nobody is quite what they seem, and throughout the novel there are many surprising revelations, all of which astonished me, but in a good way!

The best thing about this novel for me was the engaging and charming narrative voice of the heroine, who makes mistakes, who is sometimes unjust to the people who love her best, who misunderstands and who is occasionally deliberately wrong-headed, but who is still the sort of person I'd like for a best friend. If you read this novel, I'm willing to bet that by page 10 you'll be best friends with Philippa Smith, too.

Sophie has already won two literary awards (the Yeovil and the Luke Bitmead) and I'm sure she will win many more. I'm SO looking forward to reading her next novel.

At the moment, the Kindle version of The Generation Game is on Amazon's UK website at less than two quid, so do please download it and give it a go - you won't be sorry!