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.

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…


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?


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!

And here’s your invitation to the online launch party – do join us! The more the merrier!

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


Getting in the Mood

I’ve recently started using Pinterest and I’m really enjoying it. Having been to Art College, I’m a visual person, and definitely always learn better if I can see something. Just lately I’ve been setting some important scenes in Havana, which I visited a while ago, and looking at images has almost been like going on holiday. AlmostHa ha.

So now that my story has returned to Norfolk, I put together a Pinterest board of the images that have inspired me while I write. Here’s the link. http://gb.pinterest.com/margaretkaj/cuba-inspirations/

I also tried making a Mood Board to reflect the feel of my novel The Dare Club – I think I succeeded to a certain extent, although it was quite difficult to find images that reflected what the characters look like inside my head after the event.


Aleysha from The Dare Club

I suppose the best way to do it would be to start with image before I write! Though I have to admit, when I’m reading, I don’t need to be told much about what a character looks like in order to form an idea myself. Maybe that comes back to me being a visual person, I don’t know. Anyway, when I’m writing, I have to try and bear in mind that some people do like to be given physical information about characters.

How about you? Are you happy to mostly make up your own mind what characters look like? Or do you prefer a guiding hand?


Available from Amazon.


Plunging into Cuba

I’m about to plunge into research about Havanna and Cuba in order to write some scenes for my upcoming novel, Taming Tom Jones. I visited Cuba in 2001, and had an amazing adventure holiday there, so I’ve already got some insight into the country. On that holiday I made a good friend – Sharon, who lives in London. Sometimes you meet people you just hit it off with right away – Sharon is one of these people. We met up last Thursday before I went to The London Author Fair on Friday, and it was great to catch up – we always have lots of laughs! This time, with the scenes I was about to write in mind, I turned the conversation to Cuba – and we shared lots of memories about the holiday we had there – the sights we saw and the experiences we had. And the silly pranks we played, including making ‘Castro moustaches’ out of fluffy catkin seeds stuck onto double-sided sticky tape. We dared each other to wear them and to pretend nothing was different. Strangely, it took people quite a while to comment! Daft, but great fun at the time – we laughed so much we cried.

I wish I had a photo I could show you, but that was before the digital age. Anyway, as I began my research yesterday, I came across these amazing images of Cuban murals of older people – I loved them because they really seemed to celebrate older people, and to suggest that they are respected. How wonderful!


The Best Revenge

One afternoon in early summer in the year 2000, my life changed forever. I’d been to the shops to buy bread so my partner could take sandwiches to work the next day. When I returned home his car was in the drive, but the house was silent. This was very unusual – noise followed Andy around like a cloud of flies. He wasn’t the kind of person who could handle being on his own very well, and normally when I came in he’d be laughing with a friend on the phone, or at the very least playing loud music. I went into the sitting room, and there he was, just sitting. The TV wasn’t even on. Immediately, I was worried. The previous December my dad had died, and the previous July Andy’s best friend had been killed in a cycling accident. All my instincts told me that something else big had happened.

‘What’s wrong?’ I asked and sat beside him, taking his hand. Andy couldn’t meet my eyes. I thought it was because he was trying not to cry. But no, it was because he was bowed down by guilt. ‘I’ve met someone else,’ he said.

Twenty minutes later I left the house, taking only the dog and a small bag with me. It took me 4 years to rebuild my life.

What has all this got to do with Getting Published and Getting laughs, you may ask? Well, a great deal actually. Because the experience of this has given me a huge amount of material for my writing! In my novel The Goddess Workshop, my character Kate is very bitter following a similar break-up. Kate resorts to acts of revenge to try to assuage her feelings. So did I, but in a more subtle and much more satisfying way than Kate. I imagine most of us have heard of tales of wronged women stuffing prawns in curtain rails or cutting up their ex’s trousers. Andy clearly thought I would do such things, as he posted one of his friends in the house when I went to collect the rest of my things. He didn’t trust me to be there on my own.

But instead of seafood and scissors, I moved to a new city and got a new job. Then I saved my money and went on an adventure holiday to Cuba. Andy and I had been learning Spanish with a view to travelling somewhere exotic, and I knew Cuba would be top on his list of destinations. The whole time I was there, I was imagining how jealous he’d be if he found out. When I got back, I used the country as one of the settings in a book. The book was a reader for people learning to speak English and I called it Murder Maker.

Murder Maker

Murder Maker begins with the main character Carla being dumped by the love of her life. Here’s how it starts:

I used to think that murderers were born murderers, but now I know differently. Now I know they can be made.

            In my case, it was shock that did it. Four brutal words that changed my life forever. And who spoke those words?


            Congratulations, you created a murderer.

Can you guess what the 4 words were? Yes – I’ve met someone else. Carla goes on to become a serial killer, and the whole story is narrated by Carla to her ex. I changed names, but there are no prizes for guessing who her ex is based on. And satisfyingly, by the end of the book, we know time is running out for him…

After Murder Maker was a published, it was on sale in a specialist bookshop in Cambridge, near to where I used to live with Andy. And the best revenge of all? Well, a mutual friend told me that Andy had walked by the bookshop and seen it in the window. He’d been compelled to go in and buy it!

Murder Maker has since sold thousands of copies around the world and still continues to earn me money. Best of all, my experience of dealing with heartbreak and of rebuilding my life has continued to provide me with meaty material for writing. In my latest novel – The Dare Club – my characters meet at a course for the newly divorced and separated. I did such a course myself when I moved to a new city.

But more about that another day…