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, February 27, 2013

RoNAs 2013

The RoNAs - forget the Booker and the Costa, the RoNAs are awards for novels which hundreds of thousands of people actually read, rather than buy and intend to read one day.

The RoNAs are given by the Romantic Novelists' Association at an annual awards ceremony in late winter or early spring (in 2013, it was yesterday, to be exact), and in May the Romantic Novelist of the Year will be chosen from among the six authors below.

Good luck, ladies - and in the meantime, thank you for writing and sharing some wonderful novels.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Readers will believe anything...

...that's if the author is cunning enough!

I'm a big fan of opera. But it's the music I love. The story lines are almost always absurd.  Or, let's be honest, ridiculous.

Or are they? I went to see a new version of Rigoletto last night, streamed live from the Metropolitan Opera in New York straight into the Picture House in Exeter.  Ooh, so exciting!

The story line of this opera is completely crazy.  Or so I had always believed. It's packed with contradictions and absurdities.  But - last night's production was set in Las Vegas during the Mad Men days of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and all those guys.  The Duke was a singer in a night club, and Gilda was an over-protected girl who never went out, except to go to church, and so it was almost inevitable that she would fall for the first man to give her the glad eye.

I could - for  the first time - believe that Gilda would sacrifice herself for this rotten, awful man with whom she was totally infatuated. I believed she would have killed herself or let herself be killed to save him from any kind of harm. I remembered how much I loved Mick Jagger. I thought of besotted groupies on tour buses, willing to put out for anyone with a guitar. I thought of all those fans who killed themselves when John Lennon died. Making the Duke a handsome crooner who looked about 25 and could have passed for a young Elvis, instead of some fat old bloke in red tights, suddenly made the whole thing believable.

Las Vegas,Verdi, in the 1950s/1960s - you should have thought of that!

There are some fabulous out-takes on this link - http://www.metoperafamily.org/opera/rigoletto-verdi-tickets.aspx

Saturday, February 9, 2013

True confessions - how much do we need to know?

We don't know much about Shakespeare's personal life. Who was Homer, then - apart from a character in The Simpsons? All those people who wrote the Gospels - does it matter that we don't know who they were?

The culture of celebrity and the everlasting poking and prying into people's private lives seems set to go on forever. There are new celebrity gossip magazines coming out all the time, but I'm sure I'd hate it if people really wanted to know all about my own personal life, or they printed photographs of me with my physical faults and failings ringed in thick red marker pen.

Luckily, most authors tend to escape this kind of scrutiny, and I'm sure the vast majority of us are grateful for that. But what if we want the reading public to know our secrets, feel our pain? Well, we can write confessional novels, can't we? 

I don't write confessional fiction myself. I'm going to avoid listening to The Bell Jar on Radio 4 this coming week because I don't think Sylvia Plath wanted people to identify her as the author of this novel, which was originally published under a pseudonym, Victoria Lucas. 

I wonder if she would have wanted it to stay that way, and I also wonder if she felt she had made a big mistake in publishing it, or even if it contributed to her early death? 

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Creative Writing Student's Handbook launched - and it's free!

Happy February, fellow bloggers!

The worst of the winter is behind us and we can all look forward to spring.

Or that's the theory, anyway.

Spring is a time when many of us decide we're going to achieve something this year - oh yes we will.  So, for those of you who have been putting off starting to write any kind of fiction, here's a little incentive. My fellow creative writing teacher Cathie Hartigan and I have produced an interactive handbook for creative writing students which will be available in free monthly instalments on www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk. Just click on the icon to the right of this post to take you straight there.

We want this book to be a useful resource for any writer. We welcome comments, suggestions and feedback.  The more people comment, the more useful this book will be.

The monthly parts will build up into a complete book which you'll eventually be able to buy. But, if you do the exercises we suggest, you could also treat this as a free online creative writing course.

Let's all get writing!