Calling all Women’s Fiction Lovers! Complete the Survey and Win!

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Hello to all you women’s fiction lovers out there! I’m carrying out a survey to get your valuable views on what makes a women’s fiction novel the best ever experience for you.

I don’t know if you’re like me, but sometimes I find it difficult to find books I really want to read. Maybe that’s partly why I write what I do – because these are the type of books that really grab me. My fantasy reads that transport me to an entirely different world; one where I’m completely hooked on the characters and what’s happening to them.

 For me, romance on its own isn’t enough.

If there’s a romance in a story, that’s fine, and if I care about the characters I’ll root for them. But on its own? No, it doesn’t do it for me. (I realise I might be in the minority, as romance novels sell like proverbial hot cakes).

I want something more than that though.

I want to read about women who are overcoming challenges of all kinds, not just the romantic kind. Women who are rebuilding their lives or challenging themselves, or dealing with complicated issues. About secrets and how they can eat away at relationships or self-esteem like a cancer. And personally, I’m quite happy to accept events that might not happen in real life if the author helps me to believe in them. Magic, I suppose.

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The compulsion factor

So, right now I’m on a quest to find out more about what other women’s fiction fans want from women’s fiction. I want to see whether I can find people like me, which would be very nice, but also to find other books and authors who can stir and move me, and make me read hungrily into the night. So, I’ve put together a short survey on Women’s Fiction, and, to entice you to spend a few minutes answering my questions, I’m offering a £20/$20 Amazon voucher to one lucky respondent.

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Click image to give your valuable opinion and to be entered into a draw to win a £20/$20 Amazon Gift Card.

So, what are you waiting for? if you enjoy reading good women’s fiction, let me know what matters to you and where and how you enjoy reading by clicking on the link. Oh, and if you have a fantasy place to read, I want to hear about that too!

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Where’s your fantasy place to read? Tell us!

Thanks so much. I can’t wait to read your answers.

Bye for now.

Margaret 

War Diary October 1915 – Edith Cavell

It is almost one hundred years since the execution of Edith Cavell, a brave nurse from Norfolk who served in Belgium during World War One, and I am reblogging a War Diary in her honour. Scant information is given here, and the matter of fact statement about her death does nothing to give us a picture of how she must have suffered – no matter how brave she appeared – as she wrote letters to her colleagues giving instructions about domestic matters as she waited in her cell for her final moments to arrive. During her trial, Edith revealed that she had helped 200 allied soldiers to escape capture by the Germans, in the full knowledge that in doing so she ran the risk of being court-martialed and executed by firing squad which, indeed, she was at 7.00am on 12th October 1915. It is her bravery, together with that of all the other nurses and medical personnel who served in The Great War which inspired my novel A Nightingale in Winter, and I am proud to live in the same county she was born in. I shall be attending the displays and memorial activities that are to take place here in Norwich this month with great interest and a sense of pride.

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Norfolk in World War One

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German aircraft deployed on the Western Front

The German Fokker comes into service on the Western Front, able to fire forward through the propeller German air superiority is achieved.

Music Hall in Norwich

High Class Vaudeville entertainment comes to the Theatre Royal in Norwich as it changes name to ‘The Empire Music Hall’.

Execution of Edith Cavell

Norfolk-born nurse Edith Cavell is executed by the Germans in Brussels as a spy and for aiding escaped Allied prisoners.

New Social Housing

The master of the rolls declared open for occupation a block of residential flats in Recorder Road, Norwich. Built by Miss Ethel M. Colman and Miss Helen C. Colman, in memory of the Right Honourable James Stuart, they were built as social housing with low rents.

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Preparing for lift-off – Launching Taming Tom Jones

It has been a long time coming, but finally on Friday 2 October, my novel Taming Tom Jones will be launch into the world! Hurrah! Incidentally, it’s available for pre-order, and will magically appear on your kindles on Friday if you buy it now. Hint, hint. Ha ha!
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Amazon.com
Smashwords
Right, having got that out of the way, let’s talk about launches. I’ve published a fair few books because, apart from my women’s fiction, I’ve written a lot of readers for people learning to speak English. The experience of launching these books has always been a bit of anti-climax. Almost inevitably publication day has been marked by the arrival of a box of books on my doorstep, and this has been the first I’ve known about them being available to the public. Not that I’m knocking receiving a box of gleaming, newly-printed books with my name on the cover – that has always been a delicious treat.

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However, it’s hardly a red carpet premiere is it? So when my last novel A Nightingale in Winter was due to be published in July, I wanted to celebrate properly. I love writing language readers, and I’m very proud that one of them – Kilimanjaro – has just won a Language Learner Literature Award. But by their nature, language readers demand restricted vocabulary and grammar, and when I write my women’s fiction, I revel in the freedom of being able to write what I want to write in the way I want to write it. So I organised a get together with friends. Sadly though, publication of A Nightingale in Winter was delayed by several weeks due to cover issues, so my friends and I just went out for a drink on what was to have been publication day. We has a good time anyway, but by the time the book was published on 24 August, the summer holidays were in full flow, and people weren’t so available. So apart from raising a glass of wine with my partner, that book’s launch into the world went sort of unmarked too.

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So this time, encouraged by my publishers Crooked Cat Publishing, and all the other lovely Crooked Cat authors, I’m going to try something different – an online launch party. It’s on Friday 2 October 1.30pm – 7.30pm GMT, and you’re all welcome to attend. There will be fun and games as well as tasters of the book, and PRIZES.

ONLINE PARTY INVITATION

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​As well as that, if you’re a writer or a would-be writer, I’m going to be putting my creative writing tutor hat on between 4pm and 5pm to answer any writing-related questions you may have.

Click on your party invitation and then click JOIN to reserve your slot.

Here’s a bit about Taming Tom Jones:

​Jen’s partner Michael has never been in a relationship for more than four years, so with their fourth anniversary coming up, she’s getting understandably nervous. Especially as she’s just discovered she’s pregnant, and she knows Michael doesn’t want any more children other than Kyle, his teenage son.

Jen means to tell Michael about the baby right away, but then he comes home on a brand new motorbike, having traded in his sensible car, and the moment is lost. Is Michael having an early mid-life crisis?

Jen decides to do some detective work about Michael’s exes in an effort to save their relationship, and embarks on a journey that will take her as far afield as North Norfolk and Cuba. But she has no idea of the can of worms she’s about to open.

Why do all Michael’s relationships break up? And what’s the big secret he’s hiding?

I hope to see you on Friday 2 October between 1.30pm – 7.30pm GMT. Tell your friends!

ONLINE PARTY INVITATION

A Thank You to the Heart Breakers. Ps, I used you in my book. Revenge? Me? Would I? Er…

I’m very excited today because my novel Taming Tom Jones is available to pre-order! You can get by clicking HERE, and it will appear as if by magic on your Kindle on October 2nd, which is publication day. If you haven’t got a Kindle, then please ask your Kindle-owning friends to download it, because if enough people buy the e-book, my wonderful publishers Crooked Cat Publishing will produce it as a paperback.
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Okay, enough pleading! Why should you buy it? Why should you frankly even give a fig about my book when there are all those others out there, lining the shelves, both physical and digital? Well, I suffered to write this book. Just for you. Okay, that’s not strictly true. I suffered and I learnt, but I’ve got to be honest, at the time I wasn’t thinking about you curled up on your sofa reading about it all. I was too busy living it. Which doesn’t mean that Taming Tom Jones is autobiographical at all. I’ve just drawn on the feelings I experienced at the time. Let me explain…

When I was younger, before I met the amazing man I’ve been with now for ten happy years, I had an unfortunate habit to fall for men who were commitment phobics or serial monogamists. They were all charming, attractive, funny, practically helpful, but only for a certain amount of time; then they scarpered and moved on to the next woman they’d got lined up. I’ve no idea why I was drawn to the type – maybe it’s to do with my relationship with my father or something deep like that, but I certainly don’t think I’m alone in this tendency. Women everywhere fall for charismatic, illusive types, deluding themselves that they will be the one to change them. That’s certainly what I believed with Rob the joiner, Chris the plumber, Paul the musician…

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Er.. hmm, maybe I’ll stop there, to avoid getting a reputation. Gosh, I certainly went for the practical types, didn’t I? All those talents. To a man, these guys showed their feelings by doing things for me – making shelves, repairing fireplaces, singing me songs, instead of telling me how they felt. And just as soon as they felt in the least bit moved to actually putting anything into words, they were off to pastures new.

So what, you may ask, has all this to do with Taming Tom Jones? Well, Michael is my heroine Jen’s partner – the man she adores, and the man yes, you’ve guessed it, she fears is about to move on to someone new. He’s never stayed in a relationship for more than four years, and their four year anniversary is fast approaching. And she’s got some news for him which he might not like…

Jen goes to some extreme lengths to try to save their relationship, which is more than I did. I wish I’d had her nerve when I was on the receiving end of all those rejections. I sobbed and languished and got mopped up by the friends I was fortunate enough to have; friends, incidentally, who are nothing like Jen’s best friends – Marcia, a spiky school friend who believes in tough love and saying it how it is, and Hannah, Jen’s almost mother-in-law from a previous relationship. Marcia and Hannah aid and abet Jen as she embarks on a quest which takes her as far afield as North Norfolk and Cuba to investigate Michael’s past relationships. If she can find out why they failed, maybe she can stop the same thing happening to them?

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But is it ever a good idea to track down your partner’s exes? And why do all Michael’s relationships break up? What’s the big secret he’s hiding?

Pre-order Taming Tom Jones now to find out!
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com
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And here’s your invitation to the online launch party – do join us! The more the merrier!
JOIN THE FUN-FILLED ONLINE LAUNCH PARTY FOR TAMING TOM JONES – 2 OCTOBER!

Cheers! And Rob, Chris, Paul and all the others… I suppose I should say thank you. Without you, here might be no book!

Margaret X

Helping With Writer’s Block

I was in the newspaper last Saturday – here’s the piece that appeared. It’s the story of how I wrote my forthcoming novel, A Nightingale in Winter, which languished in an attic for sixteen years. I’m putting my experience of overcoming writer’s block to good use in a face-to-face course soon, and in the future I intend to make this into an e-course. If this is something that interests you, sign up to my mailing list or email me at margaretkjohnsonauthor@gmail.com for more information.
————————————————————————————————————————————–Norwich author to use her own experience to help others with writer’s block

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To help writers find their flow, Margaret Johnson has launched the Fiction Writing – Moving Forward course, which will run for ten weeks starting in September.It comes on the back of her own experience after her latest novel, A Nightingale in Winter, was left languishing in her attic for 16 years before she finally decided to put the finishing touches to it.

The course is aimed at those who have an idea for a story or novel but don’t know how to get started, or for those who have already made a start but are now feeling stuck.

Mrs Johnson said: “It took me two years to write the book on top of having a job at a college in Nottingham. I did a great deal of research for it, including going to the Imperial War Museum in London to read original diaries and letters.

“I ended up writing two versions of the story and thoroughly confused myself.

“But with increased experience, I could see exactly what I needed to change to make it work.

“I did not decide to try and publish it until 16 years later – but happily it was quickly accepted by Omnific Publishing.

“I know all about the fears and doubts that can plague aspiring writers and always try to include an element of writing confidence building in the creative writing courses.”

The course will help students to work on their plot and story outline, decide on their story theme, heighten conflict to add interest, decide on the best ending for their story and more.

Mrs Johnson also writes contemporary women’s fiction and fiction for people who are learning to speak English.

Fiction Writing – Moving Forward, will run for ten weeks from 7pm to 9pm, from September 17 at Oak Grove Chapel, Catton Grove Road, Norwich.

To book your place email Mrs Johnson at margaretkjohnsonauthor@gmail.com.

A Nightingale in Winter will be published in paperback and e-book form by Omnific Publishing on August 24 and is available to pre-order on Amazon now.

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Nancy Jardine – Highland Heroes- hale n’ hearty

Today I’m very happy to welcome Nancy Jardine, a fellow Crooked Cat author to my blog, speaking about highland heroes and her novel Take Me Now.  Welcome, Nancy, and take it away!
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Do a Google search for highland heroes and you’ll be confronted by a slew of possibilities—especially in historical romances. I’ve read a lot of popular historical romances, many of them written by author friends who hail from America or Canada. They describe an incredibly idealistic view of a rugged man of the Scottish Highlands who has amazingly romantic notions. He’s a brawny opponent of anything that challenges him, a sword- wielding dervish when it comes to protecting his own, which often equates to protecting his favoured woman.

There are also time shift novels, as in the Diana Gabaldon Outlander Series, where male or female protagonist is catapulted from the present day to medieval Scotland, or to the era of the Jacobite rebellions. There they either meet that typical strapping Scottish warrior in the case of a female, or take on the persona of one if it’s a male who time shifts. Again there’s an ideal of a powerfully built, battling warrior as the male protagonist.

When I wrote my contemporary romantic mystery Take Me Now, I wanted to create a different sort of highland hero.

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Nairn Malcolm is definitely an alpha male. He’s definitely a big strapping Scotsman but he’s a Western Islander, rather than a mainlander. He lives in his restored Scottish Castle. His ‘derring-do’ attitude has made him a successful businessman. He’s very protective of his chosen woman.

I’m hoping the reader is now asking what’s different from those highland heroes I’ve described above by other authors. My Nairn is almost a tongue-in-cheek version because at the outset of the novel he looks like he’s just had one of those claymore-swinging battles and has come off on the losing side. All of his normal alpha male qualities are ‘on hold’ till he recovers from a mysterious motorbike accident. I wanted to write about what the frustrations and tensions of being incapacitated would feel like to someone who lives life to the full and who normally does everything for himself—including flying his floatplane from his Scottish island base to Glasgow, and then in his jet to London and beyond to fabulous locations on business. It’s not easy for Nairn to laugh at his ailments as my battered highland hero, but I’m hoping readers will laugh at his predicament because my intention is for it to be a humorous contemporary romantic mystery.

Buy from Amazon: UK http://amzn.to/1QbhUwn  US http://amzn.to/1MdeuCU

Nancy Jardine writes: historical romantic adventures (Celtic Fervour Series); contemporary mystery thrillers (Take Me Now, Monogamy Twist, Topaz Eyes-finalist for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE 2014); & time-travel historical adventures for Teen/ YA readers (Rubidium Time -Travel Series –Book 1 The Taexali Game).  

Find Nancy at the following places

Blog:  http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com  Website:  http://nancyjardineauthor.com

Facebook  LinkedIN    About Me   Goodreads   Twitter @nansjar  Google+ (Nancy Jardine)  YouTube book trailer videos   Amazon UK author page   Rubidium Time Travel Series on Facebook http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG

The Art of Writing Language Readers

I’m going to dedicate this blog post to all teachers and learners of English around the world! I have written over 20 fiction readers since the year 2000. These have been published by Cambridge University Press and Cengage Learning. Twenty readers in 15 years may sound like a lot, but some of them are very short – only 5,000 words long. My women’s fiction is 90,000 words long!
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I love writing language readers. Telling an exciting story when you can only choose from a list of 200 words (for a starter level reader) is a real challenge. How do I do it? Well, I have to let the words on the list suggest the story. If I didn’t do that, if I decided I had to write a story about a dangerous crocodile when I wasn’t allowed to use the word crocodile – or bite, teeth, dangerous or any other words related to crocodiles – I think I’d go mad.
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But let me give you an example of how I work on a language reader, especially a lower level one aimed at beginners. Take for example, my story Gone! which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2009. On the list of words I was able to use were the words CAMERA, BIRTHDAY, FRIEND and COMPUTER. This gave me the idea of a boy, Tom. It’s his birthday, but his family and friends are all too busy to help him celebrate, so he’s feeling SAD (also on the list). He finds a camera, and discovers that it has magic powers. Tom decides to use the camera to help him to force his friends and family to do what he wants them to do. It doesn’t end well…
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With a higher level book, it’s easier of course. My Intermediate Level story Kilimanjaro is currently short-listed to receive a Language Learner Literature Award – yippee!The judges said of it: “Good storyline and characterization. People are set against each other, the elements, and their own personal challenges as they struggle to reach the top. The simple, descriptive language and illustrations supporting the text will keep the reader turning the pages to find out what happens next.”

I hope the readers who are voting at the moment agree! I certainly enjoyed writing it very much, and with the longer list of words and a greater freedom with grammar, I was really able to express what I wanted to in the story.

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Kilimanjaro is published by Cengage Learning in their series called Page Turners, and that’s what I tried to do with the book – to make it really exciting so you wanted to know what happened next. Will the group all make it to the top of Africa’s highest mountain?So, over to you! If you’re learning to speak English, do you read readers like mine? And if you do, have you found they help your learning? And if you’re a teacher, do you use readers as part of your lessons? I hope you do, because that way I’ll get to write more of them!