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, December 23, 2013

Twelve days of Christmas shorts...

As a gift to readers old and new, my lovely publisher Choc Lit is sending out free Christmas short stories to everyone who fancies a bit of Christmas cheeriness.

If that includes you, please contact the team at info@choclitpublishing.co.uk and today you'll receive Sue Moorcroft's Christmas story.You can also ask for the rest of the stories, too - making twelve festive stories in all. They'll be delivered to your email inbox and we hope you'll enjoy them.  More stories will be coming along for the New Year.

Merry Christmas to everyone who's been reading my posts this year and all best wishes for 2014.

Margaret XXX

Friday, December 13, 2013

Meet Linda Mitchelmore

My guest on my blog today is lovely Linda Mitchelmore, fellow Devonian and also fellow Choc Lit author.

Welcome, Linda! Please make yourself comfortable on my fat and squashy sofa - that desk looks a bit hard - and have a coffee and a cookie or two before I ask you some questions.

Linda's debut historical novel To Turn Full Circle was published in 2012 and its sequel Emma - There's No Turning Back is now available as an ebook on Amazon and all the usual ebook platforms. The print version will be in the shops in January 2014. I'm definitely going to get the print version, but I suspect my twitchy fingers will download the ebook, too!

What about this cover - isn't it gorgeous?


As well as being a fabulous historical novelist, Linda is a hugely successful writer of short stories whose work has been published in just about every UK magazine, online and in many anthologies. Linda's achievements are all the more impressive because several years ago she lost her hearing, but she hasn't let this hold her back in any way.

I think she's finished her cookie now, so let's let Linda speak for herself.

1 - You have a sequel to To Turn Full Circle out this month.  What's going to happen to Emma in this new story?

Emma was barely eighteen-years-old when To Turn Full Circle ended. She was very much in love with Seth Jago then and, at the start of Emma - There's No Turning Back, they are set to marry. But life is never straightforward for Emma and all sorts of obstacles are put in front of her, not least the arrival in her life of a baby, born to Seth's ex-lover. But Emma rises to the challenge of caring for a child her birth mother has rejected, and along the way she turns from a girl herself to a woman. Throw into this melting pot one very charismatic and mysterious man from Emma's own past, Matthew Caunter, and she begins to question what being in love is - and if it's possible to love two men. Only Emma can decide that....but you will have to read the book to find out what her decision is.

2 - You write stories set in Devon, where you live.  What do you find particularly inspirational about Devon?

I was born here so I am probably more than a little bit biased. There's no finer place, is there? It has everything. A rich past, fantastic scenery, weather that is warmer than most parts of the UK. Why else does the rest of the country swarm here for holidays? It was good enough for Agatha Christie and R F Delderfield and now Hilary Mantel has made it her home, so.....a writery sort of place, I would say.

3 - As well as historical fiction, you also write stories set in the present day. What kind of fiction do you enjoy writing most?

My absolute favourite is first person, present tense. Whatever the character I am writing, then I AM that character, be it a good one or a bad one. That said, I've only ever written short stories in first person, present tense. It would be my dream to write a novel like that, too ....maybe one day??

4 - How do you organise your research for your historical fiction?

An interesting question. I tend do things a bit back to front. I almost never write a synopsis until I have finished the first draft of an historical novel (I have, by the way, written contemporary novels and have a contract on one called Red is for Rubies with Choc Lit). I write from a very emotional angle so I like to let my characters do their own story-telling in a way. Obviously, I am aware of the period and the key political and worldwide events in which my story is set before I start and have a very basic library of books around me. But once the first draft is done I will go through it chapter by chapter and add more historical detail. Working like that might not work for everyone, but it works for me.

5 - Do you have any tips or hints for anyone starting to write fiction?

Only do it if you are prepared to take criticism at every level as you learn your craft. It IS a craft and few of us go in at the top of the game. It took me seven novels and almost as many years before I held a book with my name on the front cover in my hand.

Five quick fire questions:

1 - Any New Year Resolutions?

Yes, never to make any - I've found they are more or less pointless as something always happens to upset the applecart, often from circumstances beyond my control.

2 - Most important things or people in your life?

I'm not hugely attached to things, such as antiques or clothes or cars or jewellery. At the back of my mind I always hear my father's voice, 'It doesn't matter if you break things, love, as long as you don't break my heart.' So, my family - husband, children, grandchildren, and grand-dog, Guinness - and I wouldn't want to be without any of them.

3 - Biggest mistake you ever made?

Possibly not standing up to my mother who made me leave school when I was seventeen years old, denying me A levels and a University education. But I had a good grounding at Grammar School and life has taught me much. But my weakness then still rankles somewhat.

4 - Biggest success you ever had?

Having babies easily, and more or less painlessly (I know, everyone hates me for saying that!) on a personal level. On a professional level - it has to be the first time I ever saw my name in print....thank you Woman's Own competition way back then.

5 - A fairy godmother grants you one wish - what will you ask?

Is having my hearing back too big a wish??

Let's hope medical science makes some giant leaps forward in 2014, Linda, and that one day your wish will come true!  Thank you for chatting to me, I've enjoy it very much indeed. Do take another cookie to nibble on your journey home!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Creative Writing Student's Handbook

Well, we're nearly there - only a couple more chapters to go and we're done.

We hope the book has proved useful to both experienced and novice writers of fiction. We certainly enjoyed writing it and - thanks to all the great feedback we've received from readers - are confident we will be able to produce a final version in 2014.

If you'd like to read Chapter 11  for free, here's the link: