Wednesday, 22 February 2017

And breathe ...

This is the next one. In the summer series, that is.
The Christmas one is not quite so long. 
The manuscript has finally left the building. After what I hope is the last round of major edits.

How do I feel? Relieved, scared, excited - all the usual stuff about getting a book on its way.

This novella has been a very long time in the process, and even now I have no idea when it will finally see the outside world. I hope it will be soon, but I'm sure it will be back for more tweaks and corrections before anything else happens. And it needs a name, and a cover and then maybe ...

It's a summer book, so I'd love for it to be out for the summer holiday season - sunshine days and sultry nights, even if it's only on the page.

There were times when I wondered if I should give up on it, that the universe was sending me a message that it was never to be. I didn't give up, and I'm glad of that because although it was a long while ago now, there was so much joy when I was writing it, the words spilled onto the page, and I think some of that feeling is still there, in Cassie and Jake's romance.

So - now we wait.

And what's next? That will be sorting out the Christmas novella, ready to submit it. Then we will all have to cross our fingers that my publisher likes it. Snow, not sun for that one. And I really hope it won't take so long as it's immediate predecessor!

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

An Interview with Morton S Gray

Something different this week. I have a guest.

I'm very pleased to be able to welcome Morton S Gray, Choclit's newest author, to talk about her debut novel, The Girl on the Beach. It's a romantic suspense e-book, mixing a love story and a mystery, set in a fictional location on the coast. Morton has kindly offered to tell us about the book, to answer some questions about her writing and to tell us a bit about herself.

Hello Morton 👏

I’m delighted to be on Evonne’s blog and to answer her questions.

You were the latest winner of the Choc-lit Search for a Star  competition. I know how exciting it is just to be placed in a contest, but to win is magic - and as a result of that win, your book was published. The starting point is an intriguing question, that really draws you in - well, it did me. Will you tell us some more about the book?

Who is Harry Dixon?

When Ellie Golden meets Harry Dixon, she can’t help but feel she recognises him from somewhere. But when she finally realises who he is, she can’t believe it – because the man she met on the beach all those years before wasn’t called Harry Dixon. And, what’s more, that man is dead.

For a woman trying to outrun her troubled past and protect her son, Harry’s presence is deeply unsettling – and even more disconcerting than coming face to face with a dead man, is the fact that Harry seems to have no recollection of ever having met Ellie before. At least that’s what he says …

But perhaps Harry isn’t the person Ellie should be worried about. Because there’s a far more dangerous figure from the past lurking just outside of the new life she has built for herself, biding his time, just waiting to strike.

Morton has had some lovely reviews for the book. (And reviews mean a lot to an author) 

“What a fabulous first novel. I loved it the romance and the suspense fabulous. Brilliant characters especially every woman's dream Harry Dixon.”

“I found the plot interesting and believable and I instantly liked the characters involved. I didn't really want to stop reading until I found out what happened and it's a long time since I felt so compelled not to put a book down.”

“What a brilliant first novel ... very enjoyable. The location and characters were so well drawn - you could imagine yourself there with them.”

She's also had praise for The Girl on the Beach from fellow authors.

‘Intriguing and, ultimately, satisfying, with a wonderful romantic element.’ Bestselling Author, Sue Moorcroft

‘A gripping rollercoaster of a story that will keep you guessing until the very last page!’ Amanda James, author of Summer in Tintagel

If by now your thinking  'Where can I buy it?' (Of course you are) the links below will help with that 😊
Barnes and Noble
Google play

And more about the book from choc-lit

And now the questions!

* What made you base your book in a fictional place rather than a real seaside town?
I decide that a fictional seaside town gave me more scope to have businesses, homes and shops in the places I wanted them to be, rather than being constrained by actual geography. It is quite funny though, because as I’ve written more, Borteen, my fictional
seaside town has become more and more real and I can almost walk down the streets in my mind.
* How do you tackle research?
I was once told on a writing course not to let the research get in the way of a story.
The danger is to either spend too long doing research and never finish the book, or to get so embroiled in the research that you can’t not put everything you have discovered into the manuscript and, if you do, it can end up as a boring information dump.
The advice was to write the story first and add in detail afterwards. I try to follow this as much as I can. Obviously, sometimes you need to know something vital to write the book at all, but I try not to get carried away.
With my approach to research, I end up with lots of arrows in the margin where research details need to be added.
* What are you currently working on?
I am working on three books. When my debut The Girl on the Beach was accepted for publication by Choc Lit after winning their Search for a Star competition, I was asked to write more stories set in my fictional seaside town of Borteen. For those of you who have read The Girl on the Beach, some of your favourite background characters may be making a reappearance with their own story.
* What drew you to the romantic suspense genre?
I think the genre chose me. I tend to start writing a book with a character and a question. The combination of the two usually leads on to a mystery and then, I have a great time writing the book to find out what happens.
In The Girl on the Beach, the character Ellie Golden, is an artist with a troubled past who runs an art competition at the local high school and the question was “Who is Harry Dixon?”. You will need to read the book to find out how these two combined to make the story.

I think it's always fascinating to know more about the person behind the book, so I asked Morton to share some biographical details. There are are some unusual talents there - maybe material for future books?  

Morton lives with her husband, two sons and Lily, the tiny white dog, in Worcestershire, U.K.

She has been reading and writing fiction for as long as she can remember, penning her first attempt at a novel aged fourteen. As with many authors, life got in the way of writing for many years until she won a short story competition in 2006 and the spark was well and truly reignited.

She studied creative writing with the Open College of the Arts and joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) New Writers’ Scheme in 2012. She is a member of the RNA and The Society of Authors.

After shortlisting in several first chapter competitions, she won The Choc Lit Publishing Search for a Star competition in 2016 with her novel ‘The Girl on the Beach’. This debut novel was published on 24 January 2017. The story follows a woman with a troubled past as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding her son’s headteacher, Harry Dixon.

Previous 'incarnations' were in committee services, staff development and training. Morton has a Business Studies degree and is a fully qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Reiki Master. She also has diplomas in Tuina Acupressure Massage and Energy Field Therapy.

She enjoys crafts, history and loves tracing family trees. Having a hunger for learning new things is a bonus for the research behind her books.

Contact Links
Website -                                                               
Twitter - @MortonSGray
Facebook Page – Morton S. Gray Author -

Thank you Morton for taking time to talk to us. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

What's it called?

Blue sky and sunshine and holidays. That'll do nicely. 
I'm just completing what I hope will be the last set of edits for the first novella of 2017, which will then be back to the publisher and all points north.

It's quite big, for a novella - 60,000  words - and it's not romantic suspense. I'm not actually sure what genre it is. It has a bit of a mystery, and lots of running around on the French and Italian Riviera and of course, a love story. I'm hoping it might become the anchor book for a new series that will be loosely centred around a detective agency in Bath - with lots of romance and con men and running around on the Riviera and other glamorous places. But that is for the future.

I can't tell you what it's called, as it doesn't have a name - at least not an official one. It's actually had a number of names. It started out as A Hand-picked Husband - try saying that after a few glasses of wine. At one stage, when life was in chaos and I thought it would never actually see the light of day, it was called The Novella from Hell which was very unfair, as it had done nothing at all to deserve it. The working title it is going under at the moment is Watching the Detective - one of my favourite Elvis Costello tracks, but that is a bit quirky, and doesn't really tell you a lot about the book.

And that's the thing about the title, it's the first thing that anyone sees/hears so it's important. And it's useful if it lets the potential reader know what the book might be about and whether it's a good choice for them.

So the best title for the story would be one that says holidays and sunshine and romance and a mystery to be solved. We're still working on that one. I rather liked Escape to the Riviera, but Jules Wake got to it first.

 I'm waiting for a stroke of brilliance to occur to someone. I'm sure it will happen. Once it does. I'll let you know. 😃

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Full Supporting Cast

Secondary characters - interesting people? Received wisdom suggests that there should not be too many and that they should know their place - in the supporting cast. I know quite a lot of authors have tales of the supporting character who tried to take over the book and had to be restrained. Of course, this can be a good thing, as sometimes they warrant their own book - and then hey, you have a series!

I've been thinking about this, as I've just finished writing a novella - the Christmas one, if you are interested, and I found one of the supporting characters taking on a very strong personality - not enough to dominate, but it made me happy whenever she was on stage, and a happy author writes better books. I like to think so anyway. That happened in both my published novels too - I have a soft spot for Suzanne, the heroine's mother in Never Coming Home and for Jonathan, the heroine's colleague and best friend in Out of Sight Out of Mind. The so far unpublished rom/com (Working title  'I don't know but probably something with Riviera in it.') which, fingers crossed, will be out this summer, has a best friend that I rather liked too.  And that one has a bit of a story, which is kind of a reverse of taking over, as I have written a second in series for that - it's the one with the nut-case plot that might never see the light of day. When I came to consider a hero for the second in series I realised that I had one all ready in one of the supporting cast, but neither I nor he had expected that he would suddenly get centre stage and a book of his own,

Which just goes to show - you don't have to impress the author the first time around to end up with your own book. 😉

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

St Dwynwen's day

Today is St Dwynwen's Day. The Welsh saint's day that corresponds to St Valentine. Her love story is not very happy and she ended up as a nun, but now her day is celebrated as a chance for romance, so all sort of things can happen in the course of time.

As you know, I have a bit of trouble with romance - writing wise, I mean. As I write romantic suspense, there is a bit of a question mark in some people's minds about the 'romance' bit. I'm hoping that branching out into what is closer to rom/com will be a help, but otherwise, that's me, I'm afraid.

I've just finished writing a Christmas romantic suspense novella which, if my publisher likes it, I hope will be out for next Christmas. And I happen to think it's very romantic. Well, I've stranded them in the Brecon Beacons in a snow storm. (and the Brecon Beacons is where St Dwynwen was born, so maybe that counts for something - don't ask me what!)  Unfortunately there is a kidnapping and a couple of dead bodies in the mix as well, so only romantic in parts. I really enjoyed writing it, so fingers crossed it will see the (published) light of day.

In the meantime - have a happy St Dwynwen's Day.

Visit Wales has a few suggestions of how to celebrate - some of them require a bit of pre-organisation, so maybe something for next year's forward plan? Have a look HERE


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Back in Time

The Golden Age of Crime Writing is currently having a moment, as you may have noticed. Which has led to the reissue of a number of classics and lost treasures. And also means I have to exercise extreme restraint around the bookshop of the British Library, who are responsible for a number of the latter, if I don't want to end up spending a fortune.The covers alone are to die for.

Always looking for a good read, I was delighted to find a row of new issues of Josephine Tey's crime novels in my local library, and picked up The Man in The Queue which I first read years ago. I enjoyed it just as much, but there was one thing I noticed, which I think I have mentioned before in a post.

The classic novels often have an elastic sense of time.

In this one, the hero, Inspector Grant, spends a day sleuthing. He travels to Nottingham and is on the train at 10 am, (mentioned in the text) traces some witnesses, interrogates them, finds and has lunch with a local solicitor, does some more investigation, has coffee at the station while killing time before his train, making conversation with a waitress who is also serving other customers, arrives in London for what is described as a leisurely early dinner and is back on the street, in daylight (in March)  while late afternoon crowds and early evening revellers are mingling on the pavement, in time to spot a suspect in the crowd and give chase. All this bracketed by the two train journeys, which must have been by steam in 1929, and which take nearly two hours on today's trains. Somehow, I have my doubts about all that.

It's probably a writer's thing to notice stuff like that and the calculations amused me, and in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the book. In fact, I have a sneaky idea that this occasionally elastic timescale may be part of the charm of the Golden Age - contributing to the sense of things moving at a slower and perhaps more dignified pace.

I was also feeling slightly jealous, as I was wrestling with timings in a novella set in late December and realising that, no -  that scene cannot take place like that at that point. Because in December at that time, it will be dark.

If you haven't encountered the British Library Crime Classics and their glorious covers (I'm particularly fond of the ones featuring trains) take a look HERE  

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

It's a numbers game.

You don't have time to stop for tea!
Have you noticed? For people who are meant to deal in words, writers are awfully hung up about numbers. Sales figures, chart positions, numbers of books sold, number of books published. So far, so business driven. Except maybe the last which is perhaps more of a personal milestone event. The Romance Writers of America will give you a name check in their monthly magazine for  5, 10, 25 35, 50 and 75! which I think is a lovely gesture.

But the biggest obsessive number for writers?  Seems to me to be word count. Come on, how often have you seen a Twitter or Facebook or some other post in triumph or despair for a daily, weekly or whatever, count achieved or missed? There's even a month when it becomes a public obsession in the writing community - November, the famous, or infamous Nanowrimo when authors commit to totals and share war stories. I've never done it myself - far too scary - but I know those who have and lived to tell the tale.

But how many words are enough? And how long is your piece of string, Mrs Jones? You can bet, however good your total is for today, there will be someone who can better it. Do these people eat, sleep, go to the bathroom? When you start out you are told by the finger-waggers, and there are some, even in the writing community, who are, in general pretty nice people, that you must do a certain total, every day, even if it means getting up at even stupider o'clock than you do now. It scared me then and it depresses me now.

Because, you know what -  (To use a phrase of the moment, which I've heard continuously on the radio and keep meaning to put into conversations in a book and keep failing to do so, because it is not my speech pattern, except I just did, Result! Yes, I know this is not a book - shall we get back to the point!) I've finally come round to the idea that word count is a very personal and changeable thing. The answer is it's whatever you can comfortably manage while being satisfied with the quality. I'm writing at the moment.(Don't hold your breath, the day job restarts this week.) My daily comfortable word count, derived from years of experience, is somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 words. That's a 'whole' day with those life pauses - eating, taking in the washing, putting out the bins and so on. Other days - it's whatever I can scramble. Last week I looked up at 11 pm and found out I was still writing. I manage about 3,500 that day, but that was an exception.

A very wise fellow author, who I worked with but never met, (the joys of cyber working) who was an award nominee for non fiction, to whom I was moaning that the only time I had to write was on the train into work and was therefore only managing 200 words a day, pointed out that by the end of the week I had 1,000 words. It cheered me up, and I've never forgotten it. Problem comes when the regular word count is zero, but that is another story.

So the point of all this rambling seems to be that you write what you can, when you can. But it probably won't stop you counting the words. It hasn't stopped me.