Tag Archives: women’s fiction

MM Literary Agency: News & Reviews

Don't Stand So Close by Luana Lewis  IF YOU'RE NOT THE ONE by Jemma Forte  The Accident by C.L. Taylor  MY HAMSTER IS A SPY by Dave Lowe

DON’T STAND SO CLOSE by Luana Lewis (out February 2014, Transworld) is Glamour magazine’s ‘Must Read’:

‘This is a wonderfully tense story, full of characters who may or may not be telling the truth … Compellingly creepy. Not one to read while home alone.’  Glamour Magazine

IF YOU’RE NOT THE ONE by Jemma Forte (out February 2014, Mira Books)

‘Addictive, heartwarming yet funny, the novel explores the question that we all sometimes ask ourselves. Jennifer’s experience – her world of alternate lives with each of her ex partners –  was an engrossing tale that I found hard to put down. I had to find out what happened to each of her ‘other’ selves. A clever, wonderfully written novel that I’d definitely recommend.’  Chicklit Uncovered

THE ACCIDENT by C.L. Taylor (out April 2014, HarperCollins)

‘An ominous atmosphere, a tense tale of past and present colliding, and a narrator whom no-one believes: this book is a delight.’  Alex Marwood (author of ‘The Wicked Girls’ and ‘The Killer Next Door’) 

STINKY AND JINKS: MY HAMSTER IS A SPY by Dave Lowe (Out now, Templar)

‘With its use of plentiful humour, terrific characters (Stinky the grumpy hamster is utterly adorable), simple language and appealing illustrations, this series is perfect for emerging independent readers.’  Sunday Tasmanian


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4 days ’til Christmas: The Literary Agency Advent Calendar

In the run up to Christmas, the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency will be posting an entry from one of our authors each day, offering anything from writing tips and their inspiration, to Christmas memories and their wishes for the year to come.


Holly Martin

Do you believe?

I love the idea of Santa Claus.  As a child, the excitement of going to bed on Christmas Eve was often too much to bear, knowing that this great jolly fellow was travelling across the world giving presents to every little girl and boy.  Soon he would be in my house, leaving presents under my tree. It was the stuff of fairy tales; magic, flying reindeer and a sleigh big enough for millions of presents and as children we lapped it up.

I love the lengths parents will go to purely to keep this magic alive for their children. We didn’t have an open chimney when I was younger.  We had some electric fire but that was OK because Santa had a magic key.  We didn’t write letters to Santa, we simply told Mum and Dad what we wanted and they phoned Santa up and placed the order, a little like Argos I imagine.

My Goddaughter writes her letter to Santa every year and throws it up the chimney.  The first year that Megan was old enough to do this, the letter went up the chimney and came back down a few seconds later only to catch fire on the roaring flames.  Megan stared at her letter in dismay as it crumpled in the heat, but her Mum quickly hugged her and told her that the smoke would take the words to Santa.  Of course she accepted it because as a child you trust your parents completely.

But should the belief in magic fade just because we are now older and supposedly wiser?  No absolutely not.  That’s why I love books, because amongst their pages is the ability to transport people to magical worlds with fantastical creatures, to introduce people to rugged heroes and brave heroines, where the impossible is possible and the ordinary is lifted to the extraordinary.  We go on journeys to exotic locations, we make friends and we fall in love with characters more real and tangible than a mythical fat man in a red suit.

THE SENTINEL by Holly MartinHolly Martin‘s YA fantasy novel THE SENTINEL is out now. Her adult romance THE GUESTBOOK will be published on Valentine’s Day next year.

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9 days ’til Christmas: The Literary Agency Advent Calendar

In the run up to Christmas, the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency will be posting an entry from one of our authors each day, offering anything from writing tips and their inspiration, to Christmas memories and their wishes for the year to come.


Lynda Page

Twelve writing tips:

  • Writers come from all walks of life, so don’t be discouraged if you haven’t had a’ good enough’ education or don’t come from a privileged background.  The two main ingredients an author needs are a vivid imagination and life experience. If you possess those then you are on your way.
  • Never copy another writer’s style. Use your own unique voice and creativeness.
  • Write about what you know, and what you don’t know research thoroughly.  Readers will pick you up over the slightest inaccuracy and, however small the misdemeanor, this could result in spoiling the whole story for them.
  • Make your characters three dimensional by showing the reader what has forged their personality.  If they are shy, did they have an oppressive parent? If they are spiteful and resentful, a sibling their parents favoured more than them? Or were they just born with a chip on their shoulder? Regardless, we need to know how to empathise with the character, whether we are supposed to like them or not.
  • Don’t set out to write a book under the impression that it’s going to make you instantly rich the moment it hits the shelves.  It is the exceptional few that achieve the huge advances.  Most writers’ careers take time to establish as readers are built up over a period of time. 
  • Never be afraid to explore all possibilities when your characters are faced with a life-changing situation.  Explore all of the paths they can take – don’t just settle for the one that is easiest to write.  Writers continually need to push themselves to the limit to keep their work fresh and page turning.
  • Start your story with a punchy beginning to entice the reader into the story right from the first sentence.  They don’t want to hear that ‘it was a beautiful summer’s day and the butterflies were dancing on a soft breeze.’ They want…’This couldn’t be happening, it wasn’t possible, not after everything they had been through together, but her eyes were not deceiving her…’ 
  • Never pad out your story with side plots that are irrelevant to the main story line as readers could lose interest in carrying on – and they certainly won’t be buying your next book.  Make every word count!
  • Never use coincidences to move your story forward.  If some characters all need to be in a certain place at a certain time, make them arrive there in a plausible way.
  • Believe in yourself and your abilities because if you don’t no-one else will.  When writing my first book, I knew people thought me mad to be wasting my time on something that people of my ilk would never achieve. But I didn’t listen to their scoffs as my inner need to write drove me on.  Had I listened, I wouldn’t now have twenty-nine books published with a thirtieth on the way!
  • Be prepared to graciously accept criticism about your work… you can’t please everyone, and everybody has a right to an opinion whether it’s favourable to you or not.
  • The shelves are packed with amazing books written by amazing writers but there is always room for another!  Be prepared for long solitary hours leading into months, maybe even years, of hard labour to learn your craft; many sleepless nights as your brain won’t shut down trying to work out your plot; knowing people think you have delusions of grandeur in believing you could be a writer; and for many rejections until that one agent or publisher sees your potential. But if your drive and determination to write that story overrides all else, then what are you waiting for?

Lynda Page‘s 30th saga WHERE MEMORIES ARE MADE, set in a holiday camp in the late 1950s, will be published in hardback in January 2014.

Where Memories are Made by Lynda Page

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14 days ’til Christmas: The Literary Agency Advent Calendar

In the run up to Christmas, the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency will be posting an entry from one of our authors each day, offering anything from writing tips and their inspiration, to Christmas memories and their wishes for the year to come.


Jemma Forte

A Mum’s Christmas Carol

On the first day of Christmas my daughter gave to me – not enough notice to knock up a costume for the school Nativity (she’s a Nazarene…?!)

On the second day of Christmas my mother gave to me – a long phone call about who was going to cook what, give what, buy what. She also became the eighty fifth person to ask me what the kids wanted so I scraped the barrel. Some……pens..?

On the third day of Christmas the postman gave to me – red and white cards which indicated I needed to go to the post office to collect my ‘home deliveries’. Again.

On the fourth day of Christmas the school gave to me – an extended shift at the fair on the tombola

On the fifth day of Christmas the school fair gave to me – not five gold rings but a nice virus that’s been going round and apparently is more contagious than the plague.

On the sixth day of Christmas my back gave to me – a slipped disc bought on by trying to simultaneously push two supermarket trolleys, both of which were filled with enough food to feed eight hundred giants for three weeks. Have we got enough crackers/dates? ‘No one likes dates.’ ‘It doesn’t matter. Grab three packs. Just make sure we’ve got all the random stuff we’ll be too full to eat. Have we got enough? HAVE WE?’

On the seventh day of Christmas my diary gave to me – three nights out in a row which I faced with steely, grim determination.

On the eighth day of Christmas I gave to myself – such a big hangover it nearly caused me to pass out in the aisles of Sainsbury’s where I’d popped back for ‘a few bits I’d missed.’

On the ninth day of Christmas my son gave to me – a weepy moment after I’d put him to bed and heard him singing Little Donkey to himself in the dark. It’s the unexpected moments that get you.

On the tenth day of Christmas my credit card gave to me – a minor heart attack when I realised that yet again I’d gone over budget by several hundred quid.

On the tenth day of Christmas my home gave to me – the problem of where to actually hide all the crap I’d bought for the children. Should I sew it into my duvet? Bury it in the garden? I have no more space. Perhaps I’ll hide it in the kitchen cupboards and sellotape said cupboards shut.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my greed gave to me – cellulite and a complexion resembling suet.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my partner gave to me – an argument about what it was exactly he was doing to help with project Christmas apart from buy his Dad some socks.

And then it was here and my family gave to me – a day to remember. And suddenly, it all seemed worth it. Merry Christmas everyone!

Jemma Forte‘s latest book, IF YOU’RE NOT THE ONE, explores the possible lives of Jennifer Wright, who falls into a coma after an accident and there experiences the turns her life could have taken had she stayed with three of her old boyfriends. Published by Mira Books in February 2014.

IF YOU'RE NOT THE ONE by Jemma Forte

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16 days ’til Christmas: The Literary Agency Advent Calendar

Christmas boot

In the run up to Christmas, the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency will be posting an entry from one of our authors each day, offering anything from writing tips and their inspiration, to Christmas memories and their wishes for the year to come.


Radhika Sanghani

How to survive the festive season

1) Presents

There is nothing worse than spending a month’s rent on presents for close friends, family, Secret Santa at work and the nephews/nieces who already have better smartphones than you. In turn all you get is some expired bath salts and more scarves to add to your growing collection.

Boycotting presents makes you a Grinch, so how about taking a leaf out of the Three Wise Men’s books and going home-made? Once everyone’s seen the dried pasta photo-frames and decorated jam jars, they won’t be demanding gifts from you. And at least when they say “you really shouldn’t have”, you’ll know they really mean it.

2) Family fights

I am dreading the annual Christmas family fight. Last year’s was based around the lack of turkey (my vegetarian mum will only make a nut roast), the year before was because there wasn’t enough red cabbage, and the year before that I spilled my orange juice on the special-occasions-only White Company tablecloth.

This year the tablecloth has been resigned to everyday use, and I’ve decided we should get the fight out of the way as soon as possible. Which is why I will be spending Christmas Eve having a glorious family argument until the early hours. That way when we wake up on Christmas Day we will be too exhausted to say anything except ‘pass the brandy sauce please’.

3) Bad TV

Christmas Day = Aladdin, Madagascar 1 and 2, all the Harry Potters, all the Lord of the Rings and the festive Elf and Love Actually.

I have watched these films every Christmas for the past five years. But this year I am putting my foot down. Instead of re-watching the films I can recite in my sleep, I’ll be turning off the TV.

Don’t panic, I’m not trying to re-live number 2. I’ll just be turning it off so we can plug in the iPad. Nothing like a modern family Christmas.

4) The tree

If it’s real the pine needles will go everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you have wooden floors or carpets – those pines will root themselves in and stay there for weeks to come. No amount of vacuuming can ever get rid of them.

So I’ll be embracing a plastic tree. Not just one of those faux-pine ones either. If I’m going fake, I’ll go as tacky as possible. Think in-built flashing lights, fake snow and fiber-optic branches.

5) Mulled wine

Even after all these useful tips, there’s still only one way to really cope with Christmas: to be so merry you could rival Mr Claus himself. My chosen method of inebriation will be M&S mulled wine or mulled cider if I’m feeling fancy. (Top tip: the Tesco version is much cheaper, but not worth it)

When the vat, yes vat, has been emptied of its festive juices, there is always the brandy butter to finish off.

Radhika Sanghani‘s debut novel VIRGIN, a funny and daring novel that candidly explores its protagonist Ellie’s sexual journey, will be published by Mira Books UK and Penguin US in August 2014 . Translation rights have already been sold in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Brazil and Serbia.

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Hottest Summer Reads

Belinda Jones short story competitionCongratulations to all of the agency’s clients who have contributed to the cracking anthology, SUNLOUNGER, with over 40 sizzling stories based all around the world.  1st July marks the official publication day, and SUNLOUNGER is already No.1 in Women Writer’s & Fiction Short Stories on Amazon UK.

Take a look at the dedicated website www.va-va-vacation.com which features a page for every contributing author.

Huge congratulations also to the competition winners, Holly Martin, Kate Guest and Pernille Hughes whose stories are included amongst the bestselling authors in the anthology.

You can download your own copy here.   This is perfect reading in the sun.

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The Belinda Jones Travel Book Club short story competition


Bestselling author Belinda Jones is giving three brand-new unsigned writers a fabulous opportunity to be published this summer alongside an array of bestselling authors.  The popular women’s fiction anthology called SUNLOUNGER will be published in July 2013, and will include each winning story.  Readers will be transported to San Tropez, Tuscany, Key West, Antigua, the Australian Outback and beyond!

Not only will your story be published alongside 30+ fabulous names in fiction, but the first prize-winner will receive a cabin case filled with deluxe travel goodies, as well as a special one-to-one consultation with the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency.

Milburn will give consultations to all three winners and will also be selling the translation rights in the SUNLOUNGER anthology to publishers around the world.  Five of the Agency’s women’s fiction authors are already contributing: Victoria Fox, Carrie Duffy, Cally Taylor, Anna-Lou Weatherley and Emma Garcia.  They will be taking part in a hotly anticipated photo shoot on 27th February at a special location in London to promote the competition and their work.  Globe map

Milburn says “I am delighted with The Belinda Jones Travel Club competition – I believe there will be a huge revival in popular women’s fiction over the upcoming summer, especially seeing how successful this genre is on the ereader.   This will give women’s fiction a very welcome publicity boost.  The Sunlounger author shoot is on tomorrow so stay tuned for some incredible footage celebrating women’s fiction!”

The Belinda Jones Travel Club facebook page is running the Jet Set Chick Lit Short Story competition, and we are very much hoping that you would like to contribute a mini masterpiece to the anthology.

Word count: 1-5,000
Deadline: March 31st 2013
Publication date: July 1st 2013
Location: anywhere sunny/summery outside the UK!
Theme: the kind of story you would like to read while swaying in a hammock
Additional info: a sense of place – the book will provide the reader with a round the world trip!

To register and receive a set of guidelines, entrants simply send an email to sunloungerstories@gmail.com. There will be ongoing discussion and advice at the Belinda Jones Travel Club page on Facebook while @belindatravels and @agentmilburn offers up-to-date Tweets!  Belinda Jones is the author of 10 escapist novels branded ‘Vacations for the price of a Paperback’ so it is fitting that the first prize-winner has the added bonus of receiving a designer cabin-case filled to the brim with deluxe travel goodies.

Belinda Jones short story competition   bigger logo

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