So - what have I been doing since I last updated this blog?
I've been very busy! My writing colleague Cathie Hartigan and I were much encouraged by the success of our first writing guide, The Creative Writing Student's Handbook, and last autumn we decided to follow it up with another writer's guide - this time to the bewildering short story market both internationally and here in the UK.
We're sometimes asked if we feel there is a need for yet more how-to books on the art of writing fiction. We don't write how-to books. We write guides for writers - guides that we hope will enable our readers to learn by showing these readers the way, not by making their journeys for them. We hope to save them time, but we also hope that what we say will encourage them to research topics for themselves and to discover what kind(s) of fiction they really want to write.
This new guide to writing short stories is based on what we've learned by writing all kinds of short stories ourselves and also by organising and judging many short story competitions. What do entrants get wrong? What do they get right? What sorts of stories win what sorts of competitions? We suggest ways in which writers can give themselves the best chances in competitions of all kinds.
How can writers break into the lucrative world of magazine fiction? We don't try to second-guess what editors are going to like on any given day. We summarise and deconstruct the fiction that's currently being published in the magazines, explaining what kinds of stories are likely to appeal to editors and what kinds most definitely won't.
We also discuss 1,000 worders, flash and micro fiction. How short could the shortest short story be? What about three words?
As educators, this is what we try to do: to educate, to bring out what is already there in our students and readers, and to guide them towards publishing success. We can't give our students and readers a magic formula for success. We can't write their stories for them. But we don't need to do this because we can show them how to learn to write great stories for themselves.
Please click on the book cover on your right to take you to the relevant Amazon page, and also check out www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk for all the many and various writerly things we do.
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.
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.