What are literary characters doing this Christmas?

With Christmas fast approaching, I’ve been thinking about the characters in my novels The Goddess Workshop and The Dare Club and how they’d be spending Christmas. My characters become very real to me, and live on in my mind like friends. It’s getting quite crowded in there now, but hey, that’s good. We can have a party! In fact, what a great idea. What if the characters from the two books met in real life? Wow, that sounds like a whole new novel!

Anyway, of course the way my characters would spend Christmas would be very different at the start of the novel to the end of the novel. The Goddess Workshop is about what happens when 4 very different women – Reenie, Kate, Janet and Estelle – meet on a course described as “A Woman’s Garden of Earthly Delights.” They arrive at their local church hall to find that a giant illustration from the Kama Sutra has replaced the usual portrait of the Queen. Click here to see the full blurb for the book on Amazon.

Reenie’s house would be heaving with family, the table groaning with delicious fare, all prepared by Reenie. On the surface, everyone would be having a jolly old time, but in reality they’re all very carefully not mentioning the person missing from the table. But everyone’s thinking about him, and that means there’s something fake about all the smiles and the jokes.Image

Kate would be attempting to sleep all day, but it’s doubtful whether her cat or her best friend Geoff will let her do that. She just wants the whole season of flipping good will to be over, but by the end of the day Geoff will have her smiling, even if he does have to ply her with large quantities of Christmas spirit to achieve it.Image

Janet would be doing her very best to make Christmas perfect, with expensive table decorations and Christmas crackers. But festive cooking stresses her out, and something is bound to go wrong. Her husband Ray, will turn up from having drinks at the golf club just in time for the meal to be served up and he’ll turn his nose up at the dry turkey and burnt potatoes. Their grown up daughter will be sulky and uncommunicative because she’s just split up from her boyfriend, and Janet will be left feeling that none of her efforts have been worthwhile. Image

Estelle will spend the day alone – she’s had lots of invitations, but turned them all down. Usually she goes on holiday somewhere exclusive at this time of year, but somehow she didn’t get round to booking anything this time. She’s going to do her company accounts because business has been booming and she just hasn’t had time to sit down and do it. And later, she’s going to have an expensive ready-prepared meal. And she’s definitely not going to mope about being on her own or consider that she’s actually got a lot in common with Kate. Estelle can’t stand Kate. In fact, she can’t understand why she keeps meeting up with any of the other women. Perhaps she shouldn’t go back to the classes in the New Year…

How will their Christmases be by the end of the novel? Well, you’ll have to read the book and make your own judgements on that! But needless to say, they’ll be very different indeed.

And what about my characters from The Dare Club? I think they’d be doing some new challenges. I’ll have to give that some thought.

Margaret XX

www.margaretkjohnson.co.uk

 

The Goddess Workshop is available on Amazon.com for the greatly reduced price of $0.99 for a limited time only – from 4th December – 11th December.

 

The Dare Club is available now. Four very different people challenge each other to do scary things to try to forget about their troubles. But will it work?

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Bit-part baby in sex-change drama

Those of you who follow this blog will know that my new novel The Dare Club was published earlier this week. Yay! Whoop whoop! Hurrah! OK, sorry about that. I’ll calm down now.

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Click on the image to buy from Amazon

Everything went very smoothly… until a bit-part baby almost scuppered my target of publishing it on Monday. The said baby obviously objected to having such a small part in the book – it makes a great deal of noise before casually kicking a leftover piece of croissant off a plate.

To try to ensure it was remembered, the baby had the temerity to change its sex! I know! Fortunately, no messy operations were involved, as I expect you’ll be relieved to hear – after all, the sex change took place in a café, and nobody wants to be put off their food.

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Anyway, all’s well now. Grace has been brought under control and renamed George. Alas, he still makes a noise, and Emma, my character still loses her croissant, but I can’t help that. It’s part of the story – order a spare croissant next time, Emma! The amazing thing is that as well as myself, 2 beta readers, a proofreader, a reviewer and my cat all read drafts of the book. And none of them spotted spot Grace trying to grab a bigger slot for herself. I guess you can look and look at something until you can’t see it anymore. Either that or you can be so caught up in the story that nothing can drag you out of it. Yes, that sounds good. Let’s go with that.

Have you ever noticed anything that’s slipped through an editor’s net in a book that you’ve read? Do comment and let me know.

Oh, and before I go, just to let you know that the Kindle version of my previous novel – The Goddess Workshop – is on offer until 11pm on Sunday 1 December for 99p. Grab yourself a bargain!

www.margaretkjohnson.co.uk

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Cover Reveal – The Dare Club

Not long to go now – The Dare Club, my follow-up book to The Goddess Workshop, should be hitting the virtual shelves next week!

The Dare Club follows the fates of 4 very different people – Aleysha, Nick, Colette and Emma – who meet on a Lift Up Course for the newly divorced and separated. After initial tensions, the group bond and Colette has the idea of setting up a dare club to help them to forget their problems.  If they’re cavorting several metres off the ground, or standing under a spotlight, it’s bound to help them to forget about their troubles, isn’t it? At the very least, they’ll have some fun, and who knows? It might just change their lives forever.

I’ve had a lot of fun doing scary research for this novel – like my characters, I feel changed forever after doing things like swinging through the tree tops and performing stand-up comedy. I look forward to many more scary challenges in the future!

So, without further ado, here’s the cover for The Dare Club. I think my illustrator, Jane Newland, has got it just right.

THE DARE CLUB cover 2

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Help, Mum! Why Didn’t You Send Me to Finishing School?

I’ve decided to join The Romantic Novelist’s Association (RNA)! Or rather, rejoin it, because I was a member some years ago.

I recently started being followed on Twitter by @writeromantics and investigated their excellent blog. They are all members of the RNA New Writer’s Scheme, which gives invaluable feedback to writers on their draft novels. They have included a link to my novel The Goddess Workshop on their blog which is very kind of them, and invited me to be interviewed some time in the future, which I very much look forward to. 🙂

I read on the Writeromantics blog that one of their members acquired their agent after she had met and spoken to her at the RNA winter party – which is why I am inspired to rejoin. Someone else recently reminded me that it’s much more valuable to meet people face-to-face, and I should know, because it was a chance meeting that led to me having my fiction published by Cambridge University Press and Cengage Learning. So, I’m going to join, and I’m going to go along to social events.

So far so good.

In a matter of weeks I’m going to be appearing on stage in London telling jokes for 3 minutes. Everyone keeps telling me how brave I am, and I am going to feel nervous, of course. But when I’m in a big social gathering, faced with a room full of people I don’t know – albeit fellow writers I have loads in common with – I feel very nervous about that too!

Here are two pictures of parties. Guess which one I’d feel most at home at.

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Where’s the party food?

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Do you come here often?

I simply seem to lack the gene which allows me to socialize easily – to glide smilingly around the room asking and answering questions without a desperate look on my face, taking care to make the most of opportunities that come my way. I can do it, but it’s an ordeal when it should be fun.

But I really shouldn’t be confessing all this to you – the last time I said a similar thing to someone at a writer’s party she gave me a “why am wasting my time speaking to you?” look and scarpered.

Her loss, because I’m interesting and funny, and I have a lot of useful knowledge to bestow.

I’ve just got to believe it myself! See you at an RNA meeting soon! 🙂

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Buy the Goddess Workshop from Amazon Stores

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Building my website and getting ready to publish

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I have been very busy learning new skills this week – first of all I had to learn to put hyperlinks into the Word document of The Goddess Workshop ready for it to be loaded onto Amazon. I had no idea how to do this, and couldn’t work out what to do from Microsoft Help. Then I found a brilliant video on YouTube – E book formatting tips by JoHarris0n. After I’d watched it about a zillion times, I finally twigged what to do, and did it! What a sense of satisfaction!

Then I turned to my website – only started doing this yesterday, so still involved in this particular challenge. I wanted to use a free site that would let me use my own domain name. I’m using Weebly – at least at the moment – and had great fun downloading suitable pictures from istock (including the picture of primulas above, which has great relevance to one of the jokes in the book – not saying what at this stage!)

The challenge continues today – bring it on! Have you set up your own website? What were your challenges? And what was the most challenging thing for you about getting your book ready for Kindle? I’d love to know.

In other news, my follow-up book The Dare Club has been up for review by the members of The Womens’ Fiction Crit Group on http://www.authonomy.com. This has been an amazing experience – so much valuable insight! I have been moved by the time and trouble people have taken with their feedback, and I’m feeling really inspired to get on with the book just as soon as The Goddess Workshop and my website have been launched. Thanks, ladies! (Oh, and one man!)