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.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Discovering Borteen Bay with Morton S Gray

It's always lovely to meet a new novelist whose work I enjoy, so I was delighted when award-winning author Morton S Gray popped over to my blog to tell me about the inspiration for her Borteen Bay series of stories (three to date - more to come, hurrah) all set in the fictional seaside resort of Borteen.

Morton says she has been reading and writing fiction for as long as she can remember, penning her first attempt at a novel aged fourteen, the plot closely resembling the Errol Flynn films she watched with her grandmother every Sunday afternoon. However, she didn’t take her writing seriously until much later in her life.

Her debut novel The Girl on the Beach was published after she won the Choc Lit Publishing Search for a Star competition in 2017. She tells me she is still immensely proud of (and stunned by) the win, which allowed her to achieve a lifetime ambition of holding her own story as a paperback book. 

So - what's the starting point for this first novel?

It follows a woman with a troubled past as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding her son’s new headteacher, Harry Dixon.

Morton based The Girl on the Beach in a fictional seaside town called Borteen and has to date published two other novels set in the town. If you see her staring into space, she says she is most likely walking around the streets of Borteen in her mind and greeting its inhabitants, all of which feel very real to her. A hand drawn map of Borteen hangs on her study wall and she has a document called The Borteen Bible which details all of the buildings and residents of the town and ensures consistency. 

Although each book is stand-alone, fans of Morton’s Borteen series will get enticing glimpses of the characters they know and love in each of the books.

Her second book The Truth Lies Buried is another romantic suspense novel and tells the story of Jenny Simpson and Carver Rodgers as they uncover secrets from their past. The third in the series, Christmas at Borteen Bay, follows the story of Pippa Freeman, who runs the Rose Court Guesthouse in Borteen with her mother, and of local policeman Ethan Gibson. As Christmas approaches, they unravel a family secret.

What does Morton do in her spare time, that's if she has any?

She tells me she enjoys crafts, history and loves tracing family trees. Inevitably, these hobbies appear in her stories. 

She is also working on several more novels set in Borteen.

You can catch up with Morton on her website and on Facebook and Twitter:

Twitter - @MortonSGray
Facebook - Morton S. Gray Author - https://www.facebook.com/mortonsgray/

Buy her books from a platform of your choice here:

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Competition time again

The team members at CreativeWritingMatters - Cathie Hartigan, Sophie Duffy and I, pictured below with our Exeter Novel Prize competition judge Broo Doherty - have been busy over the summer setting up new competitions for writers in all kinds of fiction genres.

The Exeter Story Prize, Exeter Flash and Trisha Ashley Award are open for entry now, but are closing shortly, on 31 August. So, if you would like to enter any of these awards, please get writing and submitting soon! http://www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk/2019-exeter-story-prize-and-trisha-ashley-award.html

The Exeter Novel Prize is also open for entries, but you have until 1 January 2020 to submit. There is more information about it on the CreativeWritingMatters website, which is here: http://www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk

The most recent Exeter Novel Prize awards ceremony was attended by the authors in the shortlist, our judge Broo Doherty of http://www.dhhliteraryagency.com/, and also some of the writers who have won or been shortlisted for previous competitions. There's more information here: http://www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk/2018-exeter-novel-prize.html

Finally - yes, we've noticed what you've noticed. There are no men in the line-up. This isn't because we don't want men to enter our competitions, and in fact several men have won the Exeter Story Prize and Trisha Ashley Award, including Simon Kettlewell, Daniel Murphy and Richard Buxton. Please check out our winners pages to see that we're not gender-biased, honestly! http://www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk/our-winners.html

So, any gentlemen reading this, do have a look at our website, especially our winners pages, and believe we want to hear from you too.

Good luck, everyone!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Catching up with Caroline James

Today, it's my great pleasure to welcome the novelist, creative writing tutor and public speaker Caroline James as my guest on my blog.

Caroline has written many bestselling novels, the latest being The Best Boomerville Hotel, where older people can stay and have a really great time. Quite right too! Why should the young have all the fun? After a long working life, don't older people deserve some rest, relaxation and a few new challenges, too? 

'The Best Boomerville Hotel is a retreat for the more mature guest, who can book a stay and participate in various courses,' Caroline told me. 'These activities range from a conventional art or creative writing class to whacky sessions that include getting stoned with a Shaman or séances with Queenie, the resident clairvoyant.

'When I was compiling the research for the novel, I discovered that in the UK today one in three adults over the age of fifty live on their own. This may be - for example - though choice, death of a partner. or divorce. I talked to countless over-fifties and realised that many of them are lonely and unsure of what to do with the rest of their lives. I wanted to inspire readers with the message that it is alright to get older, to embrace this second bite at life, and to find ways to discover new adventures and friends and actively run down the road to happiness, not to stagger unhappily on a Zimmer frame. Boomerville is a book about the older protagonist having fun, but it covers serious issues too, and it has a surprising ending.

'My readers, both male and female, consistently tell me that they wish that there was a real Boomerville Hotel, for they would make a booking immediately!'

Caroline has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and she escapes whenever she can. 

A public speaker, she gives talks and lectures on cruise ships world-wide, and she's also a consultant and food writer. 

She's  a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association and the Society of Women Writers & Journalists. She writes articles and short stories and she contributes to many publications. She also runs writing workshops.

In her spare time, she can be found trekking up a mountain or relaxing with her head in a book and  her hand in a box of chocolates!

Twitter: @CarolineJames12