Friday, January 28, 2011

Welcome to Margaret West

Born in England, Margaret moved to the Kent countryside five years ago to get away from the busy life in London. She is married with two grown up children and has worked in various fields of work. She is a Clairknowing medium, Crystal Therapist, Parapsychologist and Psychic Development tutor. She has been writing for over 20 years and has numerous short stories, novels and articles published. Margaret writes romance and paranormal romance, incorporating her spiritual experiences into her books

Her love for literature extends from writing to reading and she is always willing to embrace new ideas and philosophies. She likes nothing more then to sit with a good book in the quiet realms of the countryside, with her dogs, Odin and Chester. A true animal lover, Margaret’s warmth and sensitivity is reflected in her writing.

Her latest release is Abigail Cottage, a dark paranormal romance where love and honour clash with deception and terror. When Abigail falls in love with Justin she can’t begin to know the world of hurt she is heading into. Gorgeous, kind, rich – he’s the man we all dream to meet. BUT, all is not what it seems because Justin is a true demon from hell, disguised as a mortal being. He wants her and will do, kill or maim anyone who tries to stop him. Namely Shaun the real hero, who wants Abigail more! So what does a mortal man do against a demon? He enlists the help of a gypsy of course. But not any old gypsy. Rosa knows Justin very well and has the powers of the spirit world on her side to fight him. Using crystals as a powerful weapon, the light of the spirit world to lead them, they embark on a battle with the whole of the underworld. Many loved ones will lose their lives. This isn’t a book where everyone survives. In real life, bad things happen. In Abigail Cottage, terrible tragedies occur too. Believe... not every story can have a happy ending.
You can order it here:

Today Margaret gives us some great advice about writing dialogue:

If I could write a book on the amount of questions that I’ve been asked with regards to dialogue – it would be an epic! Realistic dialogue doesn’t always come easily to everyone. But I can’t tell you how important it is. Dialogue advances a story and fleshes out the characters while providing a break from straight exposition. But, nothing pulls the reader out of a story faster than bad dialogue. It takes time to develop a good technique, but here are a few guidelines that I use which might help.

Listen to how people talk. Don’t become a stalker or anything! Just eavesdrop and scribble down phrases you like. The right words can bring a character to life. Likewise, the wrong word/phrase can destroy the reader’s belief in the character. For instance, it’s unlikely that a builder would say “goodness me” or a solicitor will say “blimey. Dialogue should read like real speech. But, in saying that, real speech has words and sounds that would be distracting if included on a page. Words like “uh” and “oh” makes does not make dialogue sound more realistic. These extraneous words will make your work look unprofessional.

Now comes the tricky part. Cut words and phrases out that don’t serve the conversation’s purpose. What I mean by that is, any dialogue should move the story forward while bringing your characters to life. If it doesn’t, you don’t need it. It’s easy to slip down the slope of providing too much information at once through dialogue. It should never be obvious that you’re communicating information; otherwise you run the risk of info dumping. Give no character more than three uninterrupted sentences at once. You can trust the reader to remember details from earlier in the story. Make sure you break up dialogue with action, because physical details help to break up the words on the page. In other words it allows the reader to visualise the scene you are trying to set.

Tag lines, goodness me. What do we do with these? Either there are too many, or not enough. The really can be the bane of writer’s lives to write and read. The secret is, don’t try too hard to vary them. Veering too much beyond “he said/she said” draws attention to the tags. Readers tend to skim over them anyway. I know I do. If you write “interjected,” or “he sighed,” you’ve now drawn the reader out of the action you’re trying to create. If your dialogue is working, you won’t have to say any of these words in the tag line. Most of all, punctuate dialogue correctly. Nothing is more distracting to a publisher/Editor than a writer who doesn’t know how to use punctuation. A polished MS is no good if it’s covered in punctuation errors.

It’s a tough world for writers out there. I wish everyone the best of luck.

Thank you so much for being with us today, Margaret. We wish you continued success with your writing.

Margaret can be found at:
Writers Blog:
Paranormal Blog:


  1. It's wonderful to have you here today, Margaret! I will definitely read your book.
    I am a firm believer in the power of crystals. My husband grinds irregular quartz crystals between two sheets of heavy glass into powder. We prepare homeopathic solutions that we spray on his farm fields and in my CSA garden to enhance the plants' ability to utilize sunlight. The plants' sugar content (Brix) rises, and they strengthened to naturally repel diseases and insects. (This is Biodynamic agriculture, introduced by Rudolf Steiner.)

  2. Is Abigail Cottage in print only, Margaret? Trans-Atlantic shipping is prohibitive, and the pound to dollar conversions over my head.

  3. Good morning, Margaret! Abigail's Cottage is a great read, I'm enjoying it immensely!

    I read your remarks about dialogue carefully. You're right - there is a lot of bad dialogue out there. You have to know your character and how they would talk. The hardest part for many writers is keeping the characters from sounding all the same.

    One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing a lot of writers who write a lot of dialogue and little else, which is just as annoying, with their little skinny lines that have no real substance, because they've never set the scene, and assume you'll get it all through what the characters say, which you won't. You need to engage all the senses, not just the ear.

    I also hate too many lines of dialogue together, with no speech tags whatsoever, so you get tangled up with which line is whose? If you have to go back and start counting, then you're pulled out of the story too!

    Thanks for an insightful commentary!

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  5. Thanks for your comments ladies. Ana, Abigail cottage is available as a download to. You can get a free first chapter download if you have a kindle Go here
    or tobuy, go here

    Hope this helps

  6. I never knew that writing a book could be so complicated. As a reader you just take it all for granted. I have this book. It is really very good a lot different from your other books Margaret.

  7. Do you know what I think is a shame. That british publishers wont take fabulous writers like mags because There is no reason why. It is a shame that only foreign publishers take the chance. So many british writers have to go down this route and it means that we (as in brits) never get to see the books in the stores. This is a really good book, and deserves this british publisher who took a chance on it. I look forward to seeing it on the shelves in stores.

  8. Great post, Margaret, with some good useful advice and pointers on writing dialogue. Good luck with A.C. :)


  9. Thanks for a great post. You gave some great advice. To help my characters dialogue sound natural I like to use a recorder and read what I've written and then play it back. this helps me get more realistic dialogue and it also helps me with the action or scene discription. I've cought several errors in my writing as well.
    Good luck with your latest book.
    G W Pickle

  10. Hi Margaret,

    Welcome! At first glance I thought, Oh, what a cozy cover. And then I read more second glance it gave me shivers.

  11. Great post and great advice about dialogue and the impact bad puntuation can have on it.
    Your story sounds intriguing.
    I craft selenite wands so understand the power of crystals.

  12. Ooh selenite wands! I'm a crystal therapist. I use those a lot.
    Ana, what a wonderul idea about the quartz crystals. They energise the planet as well you know. Spreading them like that will replenish the soil as well as the deeper layers of the earth.

    Debra, I didn't want the cottage to look like the cliche haunted house. So the over exposure one side gave it the eerie feeling I wanted. Lily oak did a fab job with that.

  13. Hi Margaret,

    Welcome to HWH.

    The premise to Abigail Cottage sounds great, and there's nothing better than ghostly goings on in a country cottage. Nice piece on dialogue, too. That said, I really don't like lists of s/he said.

    I remember reading a dialogue driven thriller in which streams and waterfalls of "he said" drove me absolutely nuts! I kept praying for anything but "he said", and oh boy I could have cheerfully shot the author by end of book. ;)


  14. This is a great post. Margaret, your advice on dialog is spot on. One thing I do to make sure the dialog sounds real is to read it out loud.

  15. OMG what you have to go through to get the written word on paper, as you once said Magaret, ' thank goodness for computers'. I can't even begin to imagine what authors must go through, big ginormous pat on the back for you and an even bigger one for the great reads you have given us

  16. Hi Margaret,

    Fantastic advice for dialogue. The best in this post is to 'read it out loud' and see if it trips of the tongue. And yes, adds to character and moves the story.

    Thanks for sharing.