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, September 12, 2019

Meet Chris Penhall and learn all about her Ruby Fiction debut

I was excited to hear about writer Chris Penhall's success as both a debut and prizewinning novelist, and I have been looking forward to chatting ever since I heard that Chris had won a competition sponsored by award-winning independent publisher Choc Lit and Your Cat magazine. 

Chris's prize is publication by Choc Lit's sister imprint, Ruby Fiction.

Let's find out more about Chris.

She's a freelance writer and radio producer for her local BBC Radio station, as well as being an Associate Producer for the Richard and Judy Book Club Podcast. Born in South Wales, she has also lived near London and in Portugal, which is where The House that Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it.  She is now working on her second. A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea. Chris has two grown-up daughters and lives in the Essex countryside.

The House that Alice Built is Chris’s first novel. What a gorgeous cover - and look, there's Aphrodite the cat, who partly inspired the story! 

The book is about sensible Alice, who is working hard to pay for the beloved London house she and her ex bought many years previously. She’s throwing all her money and love into that whilst he is off having a mid-life crisis and travelling the world. But when he sends her a postcard telling her he wants to sell the house at the same time as she gets made redundant, she panics.

As far as she’s concerned, he has only paid enough towards it to own the downstairs toilet. But rather than stand up to him, she does something uncharacteristic. She leaves the country. But only goes as far as Portugal where her best friend Kathy is living.

But her ex isn’t going to give up that easily.

Once Alice gets to Portugal, she begins to learn how to let go and find the person she used to be. And of course, there’s a man. There’s also Aphrodite the cat, Elvis the dog, a spot of paddle boarding, and a bit of dancing on top of bars. 

'I wanted to write about escape, learning to let go, and re-inventing yourself,' says Chris.
'But mostly, I wanted my story to be fun, sunny, and uplifting. It’s my love letter to Portugal.'

I'm sure all Chris's readers will agree that The House that Alice Built is a fun, inspiring and engaging read. You can get all the links to buying the e-book or audio by visiting www.chrispenhall.co.uk

Buy the book from Amazon UK: 

Get in touch with Chris:

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Writing and Running with Christine Stovell, Author and Athlete

Today, it's a huge pleasure to chat to the author and athlete Christine Stovell, who is a talented poet, novelist, journalist, sailor and also a dedicated runner. 

Here's Christine in running mode...

...and sailing mode...

...and just-being-Christine mode.

Let's ask her to tell us all about what has been going on in 2019.

'New Year, for me, is always a time for reflection. I began 2019 with a long, hard think about writing. A novel I'd loved writing, Follow a Star, didn’t kick-start my fiction career as much as I'd hoped, nor did the novella Moonbeams in a Jar, which came after Follow a Star. I wasn’t short of ideas; a new Little Spitmarsh novel, a house with secrets novel, even the literary novel I’d started as part of an academic course -  heck, even a novel about a detective with superhuman powers all beckoned. But what was really holding me back was the thought of all the hours of hard work I would have to invest in a novel that would probably be priced at 99p on Amazon Kindle and other ebook platforms, leaving me with very little financial return.

'My husband, Tom, had been urging me for years to "do it myself". So, when my son-in-law Simon bought me an extra birthday present of a short course on self-publishing, I decided my New Year's Resolution for 2019 would be to write and publish a book on the subject of something I’m passionate about; running and its endless capacity to heal. What started as an exercise opened floodgates of emotion as I recounted the painful circumstances in which I started running. Words poured from my fingers as I recalled twenty years of running through bad, sad and truly wonderful times.

'The technical process of uploading my book through Amazon KDP was straightforward and, yes, I was slightly daunted because it was my first time. But, gosh, I was so proud when I received the notification that Running Kind was up and running! An early lesson was realising that it was a false economy not to commission a professional cover. It seems readers of running books like to see a runner on the cover … who knew? So, I got in touch with multi-talented fellow author Rhoda Baxter who designed a smart new cover which readers seem to like, too.

'Writing and self-publishing Running Kind has been an enjoyable and positive experience, and I’ve received some wonderful feedback from readers - runners and non-runners alike. There is one very special woman in my life who never thought she was the running kind but found the confidence to lace up her trainers after reading my book, and has almost completed a Couch to 5k programme. Even if I never sell another book, that one outcome is the greatest reward of all.'

Do give this book a go, readers. I'm not a runner myself, but the wit, humour and honesty of this lovely story engaged me, even though I don't know if I'll ever find the energy to lace up any trainers myself. This is a bit weird because I somehow managed to produce two daughters who both love extreme sports, but that's another story.

Buy Running Kind here:

Get in touch with Christine:

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/chrisstovell/

Monday, September 2, 2019

Linda Mitchelmore takes us to Cove End

Today, it's a great pleasure to welcome bestselling novelist and prolific short story author Linda Mitchelmore as a guest on my blog. Linda has written three novels set in the seaside town of Cove End and says there are more books to come, hurrah!

Please tell us about the third novel in this lovely series, Linda?

'The Little B&B at Cove End was a book that was, perhaps, crying out to be written. I’ve lived in a seaside town all my life, where the houses in some roads are given over totally to B&B signs swinging outside. 

'When I first married I toyed with the idea of moving to a bigger house nearer the sea and running a B&B myself. However, my husband would probably have preferred to gouge his eyes out with bent paperclips than have strangers in the house all summer long. So we stayed put and it was only family and friends, and foreign students, who came to stay.

'Write what you know is advice given to many aspiring authors and, while I never have got around to running my own B&B, I do have experience of making people welcome, and changing beds on a regular basis as one lot of friends leaves and another lot arrives, and of always having breakfast choices available. I am best friends with the vacuum and the duster and the Flash.

'I had a "what if" moment when I found myself with another book to write as part of my contract with HarperCollins. "What if" my heroine – Cara - has no other option but to turn her beloved home into a B&B? I know my own daughter would have hated it if I had been in that position, so I added a very reluctant teenager – Mae -  to the mix. So then I had a mother/daughter tension scenario – something I also know about.

Here's a photograph of Paignton Harbour, the inspiration for Cove End

'I added art to the mix because, while I’m not an artist myself, I know those who are, and I’ve collected original art works in a small way for years. Art, I think, lifts our spirits.

'Readers who know my books will recognise Seth and Emma Jago (from a trilogy I wrote for Choc Lit) in this one. And a character from a previous HarperCollins novel – Janey in Christmas at  Strand House – pops up in The Little B&B at Cove End.

'As I was writing THE END to my manuscript I had another "what if" moment. What if people coming to stay at Cove End have reasons for being there – secrets? Hmm -  watch this space!'

Thank you, Linda - I'm already looking forward to reading Book 4 in the series, so please get writing! 

Link up with Linda:
https://twitter.com/LindaMitchelmor and https://www.facebook.com/linda.mitchelmore