Morton Gray and ‘2nd book syndrome’

morton orange

Second Book Syndrome

Will they like it? What if they hate it? Will it receive such good reviews as Book 1? Am I a one book wonder?

When Lynda asked me to write a blog post about ‘the second book’ these were the questions that bubbled to the surface.

I’ve been e-published with The Girl on the Beach for over a year now and that book has just been issued as a paperback. I’ve had 72 lovely reviews for that story and, like Lynda’s first book, it won Choc Lit Publishing’s Search for a Star competition. As a very modest, shy person this made me think that the story must be okay. Lol.

My second novel, The Truth Lies Buried is e-published on 1 May 2018. I’m hoping that this one becomes a paperback in time too, but second book nerves have already begun to gather and doubt crows to circle.

Thankfully, the way that Choc Lit works is slightly different to many publishers. When you submit a book for consideration it is sent to a panel of readers and the author only gets a contract if these readers return favourable comments.

Also in common with Lynda, this second book was written before my first published novel. It was started at a writing workshop at the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference in 2011 run by author Linda Gillard. Its first chapter (now chapter three) was shortlisted for the former Festival of Romance New Talent Award. Co-incidentally, that was the first occasion when I met Lynda too, as she was also shortlisted.

I came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t matter if it was book two, three, four, or beyond a writer is bound to have a certain amount of trepidation when releasing a book into the world. So, I will take a deep breath, cross my fingers and hope that people enjoy my new story when it is published on 1 May. Wish me luck …



About The Truth Lies Buried

Two children in a police waiting room, two distressed mothers, a memory only half remembered …

When Jenny Simpson returns to the seaside town of Borteen, her childhood home, it’s for a less than happy reason. But it’s also a chance for her to start again.

A new job leads to her working for Carver Rodgers, a man who lives alone in a house that looks like it comes from the pages of a fairy tale – until you see the disaster zone inside …



As Jenny gets to know Carver she begins to unravel the sadness that has led to his chaotic existence. Gradually they realise they have something in common that is impossible to ignore – and it all links back to a meeting at a police station many years before.

Could the truth lie just beneath their feet?



About Morton S. Gray

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. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors.

Her debut novel The Girl on the Beach was e-published in January 2017, after she won Choc Lit Publishing Search for a Star competition. The story follows a woman with a troubled past as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding her son’s headteacher, Harry Dixon. This book is available as a paperback from 10 April 2018.

Morton’s second book for Choc Lit The Truth Lies Buried is published as an e-book on 1 May 2018. Another romantic suspense novel, the book tells the story of Jenny Simpson and Carver Rodgers as they uncover secrets from their past.

Morton previously worked in the electricity industry in committee services, staff development and training. She 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.


You can catch up with Morton on her website, on Twitter – @MortonSGray, her Facebook page – Morton S. Gray Author – and

Instagram –


Pre-order link for The Truth Lies Buried at or


Purchasing links for The Girl on the Beach at or


Chatting to Marie Laval about her new Choc Lit Book, Little Pink Taxi…!

Thank you very much, Lynda, for your kind invitation to feature on your blog and talk about the release of LITTLE PINK TAXI, my contemporary romantic suspense published by Choc Lit. I have been so looking forward to this day. It is lovely to celebrate it with you and your readers!









  1. What was your inspiration for Little Pink Taxi?

I had two main sources of inspiration. The first one was the setting – the magnificent Cairngorms in Scotland. A few years ago I used to watch a television series called ‘Monarch of the Glen’ which featured a beautiful castle facing a loch and surrounded by a forest. It was called Glenbogle Castle, and I loved it so much that I knew I would just have to set a story in a very similar kind of castle one day. In my mind, Raventhorn – the fictitious castle in Little Pink Taxi – is almost identical to Glenbogle castle. There is a loch and a forest, and of course, the dramatic backdrop of Cairngorms.



My other source of inspiration was a pink taxi I saw a few years ago in Manchester city centre. I know that they are quite common these days, but at the time, it was the first I had ever seen, and I thought it would be fun to have my heroine drive one of them. The story developed from there.

  1. How and when do you find time to write?

There is nothing I would love more than be a full-time writer and write all day, but I have a day job, like most of us, so my writing has to take place in the evenings or early morning at weekends. I do have the school holidays though, and I always make the most of them!







  1. Which character is your favourite?

Rosalie is my absolute favourite, although I loved writing about all her friends in Irlwick, as well as stuck-up hero Marc Petersen whose cold heart she manages to thaw. Rosalie is a kind, warm, bubbly young woman who is very loyal to her friends and family and set up Love Taxis as a testimonial to her late mother. She is completely at odds with Marc. Even their tastes in music clash since she loves to sing to pop music, and he only appreciate jazz or classical music. Another favourite couple of mine are friendly Fergus, who operates the switchboard at Love Taxis, and his outspoken wife Marion, who works as a cleaner at Raventhorn.

  1. Are any characters based on anyone you know?

I made them all up, even if by sheer coincidence my eldest son’s lovely girlfriend is called Alice, is a vegetarian and loves baking, just like Rosalie’s best friend. She even has dark brown hair too!


  1. Do you ever become attached to your characters and have a hard time letting go of them? Or are you happy to let them go and move on to the next project?

I always grow attached to my characters, but I suppose it’s only natural, having spent months, if not years in their company. It takes me a long time to complete a novel, and I am not even talking about the editing phase… In that time, I usually have been spending more time with my characters than with many of my friends! However, I will keep in touch with Marc and Rosalie since my next two novels which feature Marc’s childhood friends, journalist Cédric Castel, and secret agent turned wine-grower Luc Peyrac.


  1. Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?

I can honestly say that all three are linked, although being a pantser, the story only really develops as I go along. For LITTLE PINK TAXI, I knew that I wanted to write about Scotland again (I had just finished a historical romance set near Cape Wrath in the Far North of Scotland). I wanted my heroine to live in a castle based on the one in ‘Monarch of the Glen’ TV series, and drive a pink taxi. And the plot developed from that.







  1. How long does it take you to write a book and what sort of research do you do?

Being a full-time teacher and a mum of three (even though my two elder sons are now quite grown up), I don’t have much time to write during the week or in term-time. Therefore I would say that it takes me about a year to complete the first draft of a novel. Then of course, there is the re-writing, and the editing!

I spend a long time researching background information to make sure my facts are as accurate as possible, although I will confess that I sometimes use what we writers call ‘poetic licence’. Researching is one of my biggest pleasures, but it often leads me astray, and I can waste quite a lot of time experimenting with new ideas and subplots, before reverting to my original ideas. That’s the prob

  1. What part of writing do you find most challenging?

It depends, Lynda. Every story, and almost every day is different. There are times of intense happiness when the words flow, the story works well and the characters talk to me. Then there are times of frustration, despair and gloom, when I feel like giving up.


  1. Can you describe the moment when you realised you were a real ‘author’?

I am still not sure I am, Lynda!





  1. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

To write what you love, and persevere. I often say that I could have easily given up submitting work after receiving my first rejection letters. I am so glad I didn’t.


Author Bio

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie has lived in the beautiful Rossendale Valley in Lancashire for a number of years. A member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors, she writes contemporary and historical romance. Her native France very much influences her writing, and all her novels have what she likes to call ‘a French twist’!

LITTLE PINK TAXI is Marie’s second contemporary romance and is published by Choc Lit. It is available here.

You can get in touch with Marie on Facebook and Twitter, and why not check the beautiful photos of Scotland and Denmark on the special Little Pink Taxi Page on Pinterest?


Take a ride with Love Taxis, the cab company with a Heart … 
Rosalie Heart is a well-known face in Irlwick – well, if you drive a bright pink taxi and your signature style is a pink anorak, you’re going to draw a bit of attention! But Rosalie’s company Love Taxis is more than just a gimmick – for many people in the remote Scottish village, it’s a lifeline.

Which is something that Marc Petersen will never understand. Marc’s ruthless approach to business doesn’t extend to pink taxi companies running at a loss. When he arrives in Irlwick to see to a new acquisition – Raventhorn, a rundown castle – it’s apparent he poses a threat to Rosalie’s entire existence; not just her business, but her childhood home too.

On the face of it Marc and Rosalie should loathe each other, but what they didn’t count on was somebody playing cupid …


A fabulous interview with Jane Lovering where she talks about the launch of her new timeslip novel..!

Living in the Past (Choc Lit) by [Lovering, Jane]

Release date: 14th February 2018..!


Hello Jane and thank you so much for joining me….

Before we start, might I congratulate you for your shortlistings for this years Romantic Novel of the Year (RONA’s) where two of your books have been listed in 2 different categories.

First, we have:

Christmas at the Little Village School (Choc Lit)

and Secondly… we have….

Little Teashop of Horrors: A wonderful funny, uplifting romantic read, perfect to escape with by [Lovering, Jane]

I must say, I’ve read them both and they are both amazing reads… So, seeing as we are celebrating and wishing you the very best of luck…. I brought the scones because everyone knows we love our afternoon tea..!






Now… we’re sorted, we’ll begin our chat about your new novel, Living in the Past….

Living in the Past (Choc Lit) by [Lovering, Jane]



  1. I know you’ve wanted to write this book for a long time, so… what was your inspiration for Living in the Past?


It was a combination of things – my foundation degree in archaeology, the local landscape (always been fascinated with the pre-history of North Yorkshire), and my deep and abiding love for Tony Robinson. I also wanted to write a book that showed the sheer hard graft of archaeology, that it’s not all really exciting artifacts turning up every ten minutes, most of it is mud and rain and arguing.



  1. How and when do you find time to write?


I work really random shifts, where I might be at work any time from 6.30am to 10.30pm. But this means I am often at home and awake during the day, so I will write then. Not so much in the evenings, my brain doesn’t really work after dark.


  1. Which character in Living in the Past is your favourite?


My main character, Grace, is probably my favourite, because the story is mostly told through her POV, but I am also very fond of her best friend Tabitha. She’s outspoken and a bit random, not unlike myself.


  1. Are any of the characters based on anyone you know?


No! I never write about people I know. I’ve got a head full of imaginary people already, I don’t need real ones in there cluttering things up any further.


  1. Do you ever become attached to your characters and have a hard time letting go of them. Or, are you happy to let them go and move onto the next project?


I don’t really have trouble letting go. I get very involved in their lives whilst writing the books, but I always feel that I’ve done as much with them as I can in the book, so am happy to release them into the wild at the end.


  1. Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?


I get a vague image of a place, with some people wandering around in it. When I concentrate, I can see them doing things. So it’s probably a combination. Often, oddly, it’s a title, which suggests the story, and the story suggests the people. And then we change the title…



  1. How long does it take you to write a book and what sort of research do you do?


It depends on the book. I once wrote a book in six weeks, but mostly it’s around six to nine months, with lots of that time spent just noodling around and staring out of windows. I write quite fast once I get my head down and the ideas start coming, but as soon as my concentration is broken (by the need to go to work, for example), I find it hard to pick it back up again. Research also depends on the book. Living in the Past was quite research heavy because I wanted to get the Bronze Age details right but most of my books are contemporaries, so, apart from the odd Google, I don’t need to do too much. And I read a lot, so absorb quite a bit of research without realising I’m doing it.


  1. What part of writing a novel do you find most challenging?


The keeping going. The beginning is always great, because the idea is crystal clear and you can see where it’s going and it’s all shiny and new. Then, round about the 20,000 word mark, it morphs into the worst idea ever. All the characters are bland, the story is stupid and you’d rather sandpaper your own eyeballs than finish writing it. You literally cannot understand why you ever thought it was a good idea to write that book.  At that point, keeping going is the most important thing in the world, and incredibly hard to do.


PS, it nearly always works out in the end.



  1. Can you described the moment when you realised you were a ‘real’ author?


Probably winning the 2012 Romantic Novel of the Year. It made me feel that it wasn’t just me, other people really liked my book! Mostly though, I’m just pretending to be an author because I get to walk about talking to myself and everyone thinks it’s normal.


  1. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?


Read. Read everything you can, not just things you ‘like’. Try some books you don’t immediately enjoy, and outside your usual genre. And write. Write lots. Diaries, blogs, practice first chapters. Practice might not make perfect, but it makes it a lot easier to keep going when you feel that every word is complete pants (see question 8).

Buying links for Living in the Past…

Jane Lovering's profile photo, Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoor


Author Bio

Jane was, presumably, born, although everyone concerned denies all knowledge. However there is evidence that her early years were spent in Devon (she can still talk like a pirate under the right conditions) and of her subsequent removal to Yorkshire under a sack and sedation.

She now lives in North Yorkshire, where she writes romantic comedies and labours under the tragic misapprehension that Johnny Depp is coming for her any day now. Owing to a terrible outbreak of insanity she is now the minder of five cats (three intentional and two accidental) and a pair of insane terriers – just as the five kids showed signs of leaving home, and she has to spend considerable amounts of time in a darkened room as a result (of the animals, not the kids leaving home).
Jane’s likes include marshmallows, the smell of cucumbers and the understairs cupboard, words beginning with B, and Doctor Who. She writes with her laptop balanced on her knees whilst lying on her bed, and her children have been brought up to believe that real food has a high carbon content. And a kind of amorphous shape.

Not unlike Jane herself, come to think of it.

She had some hobbies once, but she can’t remember what they were. Ask her to show you how many marshmallows she can fit in her mouth at once, though, that might give you a clue. Go on, I dare you.


An interview with Ruby Fiction’s Caroline James..!

An interview with Ruby Fiction’s Caroline James…

Where she talks about her new release… The BEST Boomerville Hotel..!











  • What was your inspiration for The Best Boomerville Hotel

I used to own a country house hotel in Cumbria, it was a wonderful place and the setting of Boomerville is based on reality. The hotel was set in three acres of gardens on the edge of the Lake District and steeped in history. I always knew that I would base a story there. As I’ve got older I am aware that middle age and beyond scares a great many people. One in three over the age of 50 in the UK now live on their own. In my imaginary world Boomerville is a retreat that offers whacky and conventional courses to stimulate and encourage mid-lifers to embrace their years and have a blast as they get older. I inspired myself as I wrote the book and vowed to go out of my own comfort zone in the years to come and make the most of life, like all the boomers in Boomerville.


  • How and when do you find time to write?

Early mornings are the best for me but if I am on a deadline or a roll I can write all day and late into the evening on the days when other work commitments allow.


  • Which character in The Best Boomerville Hotel is your favourite?

It must be Hattie. She is a larger than life character who has developed in other books and although I long to kill her off, she just won’t go away. Hattie has a heart of gold, an appetite of a horse and loves a livener any time of the day. Middle aged and mischievous she is fun to be around. Life is never dull if Hattie rocks up to your party.


  • Are any of the characters based on anyone you know?

Yes. Absolutely. An amalgamation of a zillion people I have met over the years. My life has been spent in the hospitality industry and I’ve met some fascinating folk. I take little bits of character traits or certain sayings, give them a twist and write on.


  • Do you ever become attached to your characters and have a hard time letting go of them. Or, are you happy to let them go and move onto the next project?

I am completely relieved when I write THE END and hope that I’ll never have the characters talking in my head ever again. This lasts for about a day. After which, I start to wonder how they are getting on and begin to create new stories.


  • Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?

The story. The rest weaves around it.


  • How long does it take you to write a book and what sort of research do you do?

It varies. Six months? A year? All dependant on what is happening in my life. I only started writing six years ago, after dreaming of penning a novel from childhood and finally glued my bum to a chair, grabbed every spare hour and got on with it. I research my memories for incidents that happened in my life and when that runs out go hard on the internet. Travel is a wonderful way to research too and being totally in love with many different places, travel enables my ideas to soon cement onto the page.


  • What part of writing a novel do you find most challenging?

All of it.


  • Can you described the moment when you realised you were a ‘real’ author?

Initially, seeing my debut book, Coffee Tea The Gypsy & Me, go to number three in women’s fiction on Amazon and a week later being E-book of the Week in the Sun newspaper. I never quite believe it and only recently replied, ‘Author’ when asked what I did for a living. Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me was featured as a Top Read in the Thomson Holiday Inflight Magazine in 2017 and I was constantly contacted by readers to say they had seen it when flying off on holiday – that was a wonderful feeling.


  • What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

It’s never too late to start writing. Stop daydreaming and just get on with it.


Caroline James Bio:  Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can. A public speaker, consultant and food writer, Caroline is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association and writes articles and short stories and contributes to many publications. In her spare time, Caroline can be found trekking up a mountain or relaxing with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates.




Caroline’s new book:  The Best Boomerville Hotel


‘Britain’s answer to the Best Marigold Hotel’

Let the shenanigans begin at Boomerville …


Jo Docherty and Hattie Contaldo have a vision – a holiday retreat in the heart of the Lake District exclusively for guests of ‘a certain age’ wishing to stimulate both mind and body with new creative experiences. One hotel refurbishment later and the Best Boomerville Hotel is open for business!

Perhaps not surprisingly Boomerville attracts more than its fair share of eccentric clientele: there’s fun loving Sir Henry Mulberry and his brother Hugo; Lucinda Brown, an impoverished artist with more ego than talent; Andy Mack, a charming Porsche-driving James Bond lookalike, as well as Kate Simmons, a woman who made her fortune from an internet dating agency but still hasn’t found ‘the One’ herself.

With such an array of colourful individuals there’s bound to be laughs aplenty, but could there be tears and heartbreak too and will the residents get more than they bargained for at Boomerville?


PUB DATE: 13 March 2018
CATEGORY:  Contemporary/Romantic Comedy
PUBLISHER: Ruby Fiction – a new imprint of ChocLit Publishing




The Best Boomerville Hotel

Twitter:  @CarolineJames12

Rachel Dove talks about her new novel, ‘THE LONG WALK BACK..!’

The Long Walk Back

Here’s the blurb..!!

Does everyone deserve a second chance?

As an army trauma surgeon Kate knows how to keep her cool in the most high pressure of situations. Although back at home in England her marriage is falling apart, out in the desert she’s happy knowing that she’s saving lives.
Until she meets Cooper. It’s up to Kate to make a split-second decision to save Cooper’s life. Yet Cooper doesn’t want to be saved. Can Kate convince him to give his life a second chance even though its turning out dramatically different from how he planned?


Good morning Rachel, thank you for joining me for tea and scones and could I just say, congratulations on the release of your fantastic new book. I’ve already read the advanced copy that you sent me and all I can say is, WOW, your readers are in for a REAL treat…!! What an amazing book…!!

I just have one or two questions to ask, as I’m sure your readers will love to hear your answers..!!

1. I know you’ve wanted to write this book for a long time, so… what was your inspiration for The Long Walk Back?

In today’s political climate, I was always struck by the personal stories behind the war, and a story started to form. If I hadn’t gone into education and writing, I think I would have gone into medicine, as it has always intrigued me and I love medical dramas and reading journals etc. Part of my teaching job involves healthcare dealing with autism etc, and having two children with additional needs means that I always keep abreast of developments. One day, I had a notion of a wounded soldier, and it grew from there.

2. How and when do you find time to write?

I write every day, even if it’s just editing, researching or scribbling details down. I work every single day in some capacity, and I get antsy if I don’t. I write when the kids are at school normally, and when they are still in bed on a morning or late at night. I have been known to write in my car or at the side of a football pitch too, whenever I get chance really. I make time, although now I work from home full time it’s a lot easier. People who work full time and still write a book a year are my heroes. I couldn’t do it!

3. Which character in The Long Walk Back is your favourite?

Cooper without a doubt. I normally identify with my female characters more, but Cooper is a stubborn, sexy, pig headed alpha mate with a soft heart. I love him very much as a character.

4. Are any of the characters based on anyone you know?

Grace and Marlene, two of the lovely ladies from The Chic Boutique on Baker Street are real people, my grandmothers, but other than that, no not really. I try to create completely new people.

5. Do you ever become attached to your characters and have a hard time letting go of them. Or, are you happy to let them go and move onto the next project?

Yes, definitely! Cooper is very special to me, and I could have written him forever. I am currently writing the last book in the Westfield series, and I will be very sorry to say goodbye to the village and its characters.

6. Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?

Tricky, because it has been different for some of my books, but I definitely think characters are what comes to mind first. They have to be fully formed in my head before I write, and I use character profiles to keep track of them.

7. How long does it take you to write a book and what sort of research do you do?

On average from start to finish from idea to first draft I would say about 6 months, I have books planned which I haven’t started working on yet, but they will be percolating away in the background. I research by going to places, asking professionals, reading books, and talking to people who have been in similar situations. For The Long Walk Back I did the most research, in terms of medical conditions, dosages of medicines, asking professionals for advice. I wanted to get the story right and not glorify war or one side over the other. That’s not what the book is about.

8. What part of writing a novel do you find most challenging?

Deadlines! I am a terrible one for thinking ‘ah, it’ll be fine’ and playing around with things when really I should be applying bottom to chair and hammering the words out. I need to work on my self editing and do this better in 2018, although with deadlines I generally hit them give or take a few days! School holidays knock my work out of whack as we don’t pay for childcare now, and made a pact never to again for the sake of our boys.

9. Can you described the moment when you realised you were a ‘real’ author?

That’s a tricky one, as there have been many amazing things happening in the last couple of years. Stephen King says “If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.”

I got my first check for a magazine readers letter a good few years ago,  after learning about them on an assignment with my writing course with the Writers Bureau, and I still have the letter. I never stopped, and now I have a folder full of letters like that. Writing is not about money, but the first acceptance does spur you on to the next. The best part for me now is saying ‘I am a writer’ proudly when someone asks what I do, rather than just saying teacher. I have my two dream jobs.

10. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read. Read about what is selling, read about the world, and devour books. Devour every genre you can stomach, and find out what you love, what speaks to you, and what makes you happy. Enter competitions too, and take that shot. I always enter competitions even now, because without them, I might never have been published. The practice alone is worth the fear!

long walk back cover

If you would like to read ‘THE LONG WALK BACK’ here’s the buying link:


An Interview with Kirsty Ferry


Here Kirsty talks about her new book….

A Little Bit of Christmas Magic

Where did the idea of this book start? What led to it being written?

It’s linked into the first Rossetti Mysteries book, ‘Some Veil did Fall.’ I loved the historical characters in Veil, and  desperately wanted them to have more of a story. I couldn’t really do a follow-up for them, but a prequel sounded ideal. I also love the idea of a traditional Victorian Christmas, and of course a good Christmas ghost story like Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’. So that’s how it ended up as number 4 in the series, a timeslip, and has Christmas Present. Christmas Past and Christmas Yet to Come in it!

How did you create your heroine? What drives her?

Ailsa is a minor character in a contemporary novella I’ve written, and she seemed perfect to use for this book. She is a wedding planner, and is all for happy endings and love stories. I just needed to give her a reason to be at work on Christmas Day and to have her own reasons to wish herself back into the Victorian era – which works out very well for her in the end.

Are any of your characters based on someone you know?

No, at least not knowingly! Maybe one or two character traits sneak in unawares, but nothing that singles anybody out – I think I’d lose a lot of friends if I started putting them in books. One of my friends has been used as ‘character’ on a couple of occasions, and certain very thinly disguised elements of her life fall into at least two books –  and trust me, she is no longer friends with the author!

Who is your favourite character and why?

I think I have to go for Ella, my historical heroine. If she wasn’t so alive to me, then I wouldn’t have written Veil, I wouldn’t have written this book, and Veil would never have had sequels. I think Ella has been hovering around my imagination for years, but I’m not quite sure where she came from.

and finally

What’s next… what are you writing now?

I’m working on edits for the third book in my new Hartsford Mysteries series. It’s trebled in size since I initially sent it off, and has changed from a contemporary novella to a full-blown dual timeline novel with a hint of ghosts. Then I have four more novellas sitting with the panel at the publishers, so hopefully I’ll get to work on one of those at some point if they are accepted. And I’m playing around with the third book in another series, the first one of which came out at Halloween. I’m only a couple of thousand words into it, but I’m sure it will sort itself out eventually.










Kirsty’s Bio

Kirsty is from the North East of England and won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009 with the ghostly tale ‘Enchantment’.

Her timeslip novel, ‘Some Veil Did Fall’, a paranormal romance set in Whitby, was published by Choc Lit in Autumn 2014. This was followed by another Choc Lit timeslip, ‘The Girl in the Painting’ in February 2016 and ‘The Girl in the Photograph’ in March 2017. October 2017 saw the release of ‘Watch for me by Moonlight’,  ‘A Little Bit of Christmas Magic’ and ‘Every Witch Way’, again, all published by Choc Lit. The experience of signing ‘Some Veil Did Fall’ in a quirky bookshop in the midst of Goth Weekend in Whitby, dressed as a recently undead person was one of the highlights of her writing career so far!

Kirsty’s day-job involves sharing a Georgian building with an eclectic collection of ghosts – which can sometimes prove rather interesting.

You can find out more about Kirsty and her work at, catch her on her Facebook Author Page or follow her on Twitter @kirsty_ferry.



Buying Links – find your way from my Choc Lit author pages


An evening with Choc Lit’s very own, Morton Gray..!


Today on my blog, I’m very pleased to host my wonderful friend Morton Gray, during the week that she publishes her debut novel, The Girl on the Beach.

morton orange.jpeg

Good morning, Morton, tell us a little about yourself.

I live in Worcestershire, U.K. with my husband, two sons and Lily the little white dog. I won Choc Lit Publishing’s Search for a Star competition with my novel “The Girl on the Beach” in March 2016. The novel is e-published in all electronic formats on 24 January 2017. It is a contemporary romantic suspense novel set in the fictional seaside town of Borteen.

Could I ask, how long have you been writing and working toward the goal of being published?

Having delighted in the written word for as long as I can remember, I guess you could say since I learned to write, but, as with many writers, life and work got in the way for a long time. In 2006, I entered a short story competition and, unexpectedly, won. After that, I began to wonder whether I could write a novel. I soon discovered how little I knew and enrolled on courses to learn how to write the many stories in my head.

Festival-of-romance - Broken Jigsaw 2013

Can you describe the time you realised you were a ‘real writer’?

Tantalising glimmers of possible publication success appeared when I began to shortlist in novel competitions. One shortlisting for the former Festival of Romance New Talent Award in 2014, gave me the opportunity to meet you, Lynda, when you were shortlisted too.

I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) New Writers’ Scheme (NWS) in 2012, the scheme allows a critique by a novelist for every year you are a member and I began to see more encouraging comments in these reports as I progressed. It is all a learning curve.

I guess I’ve taken my writing more seriously since I began to get favourable responses from those reading my work.


I love the cover for The Girl on the Beach, but what was the inspiration behind it?

 My novels tend to start from a spark of an idea. This one was born after a friend, who runs an art gallery in Worcester, held an art competition at my son’s high school. This, combined with a couple of headlines on a news website gave me the start of the story, which I began to scribble on the back of an envelope on a journey down the motorway. (I hasten to add that my husband was driving).

How did you come up with your story concept?

The wonder of writing for me is the unfolding of a story, almost as if it is downloaded from the ether. It feels like the story concept finds me, rather than me coming up with it.

Are any of your characters based on your life and experience?

My characters are purely fictional, but it is inevitable that snippets of my experience leak into the books. For example, my heroine in “The Girl on the Beach”, Ellie, hates opening birthday presents and I have a little of this phobia. I’d much rather give presents than receive them.

Who is your favourite character and why?

My favourite character is Ellie Golden, my heroine. She is a survivor and a fiercely protective mother.

Do you become attached to your characters and have a hard time letting go of them, or are you happy their story is told and you can move on to the next project?

I have so many stories to tell that I am happy to move on to the next book. Having said that, other characters in “The Girl on the Beach” have demanded their own story, so you are likely to see those characters in the future.

If you could be any of your characters, which would it be and why?

 I guess it would be Mandy Vanes, the heroine’s best friend in “The Girl on the Beach”. She is more carefree than I’ve ever managed to be, but is it all an illusion? I’m writing her story at the moment…


What is your writing process? Which comes first, the story, the characters, or setting?

The characters come first, followed by the setting and then the story unfolds. If I am in the flow, it is as if the characters are speaking to me, sometimes so quickly that I can’t write fast enough. I adore the alchemy of this process. I tend to write long hand in notebooks, usually in cafes, as it’s too distracting at home. I type up my words when I get back.

Are you a meticulous plotter or do you just let it flow?

Before my writing journey began, I would have predicted that I would be a plotter, as I like organisation, process and logic, but to my surprise my best work is achieved when I just let the words flow. In this way, you could almost say that I act out of character when I’m writing.

How would you describe your writing style?

My books unfold as I write them, so I hope that my readers get the same experience. Beyond that I think I’ll have to ask for answers on a postcard when people have read the book.

How long does it take you to write a book?

I like to write a first draft quickly, usually in a month. Following this speed write, I need to undertake research for details, examine the way the story is written and the elements I need to discard or move around. I’m often writing more than one book at the same time because of the way I write.


What kind of research do you undertake?

I prefer to get the main bones of a story down before I undertake detailed research, mainly to avoid a huge dump of information and to focus the research I undertake. I will mainly be researching detailed things about an occupation or something that happens in the story beyond my own experience.

What part of writing a novel do you find most challenging?

I love the first draft. The thing I find most challenging is carving up my ideas and deciding what to keep and what to discard. Some of my favourite bits of the first draft are often red herrings for the final book and sadly have to go.

Have you used beta readers, and if so, do you recommend them?

I had two main readers for The Girl on the Beach. One read the novel when it was a raw first draft and the other when it was more polished. My confidence in my work can be quite fragile at the early stages, so I’d say choose very wisely who sees your work and always be specific about what areas or aspects of your work you want an opinion about.

What can your readers expect when they read your book?

Hopefully, they can expect to unravel a mystery alongside my hero and heroine. In ‘The Girl on the Beach” Harry doesn’t remember Ellie at all, but she is sure she has known him before, but in those days, he was not called Harry Dixon!

Can you tell us what you are writing now?

I am writing three books, all centred around my fictional seaside town of Borteen. One is the best friend’s story from “The Girl on the Beach.”

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Learn the craft of writing, read lots, write lots. Try different genres, different writing styles and approaches, so that you can find your own particular way of writing and voice.


Do you think being a member of an association, such as the Romantic Novelists’ Association is beneficial to new writers, or is a local writing group more helpful?

I would have to say both. My membership of the RNA New Writers’ Scheme was undoubtedly crucial in my success in winning Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition, as I had benefitted from the critique of another writer.

Equally, my local writing associations with Sue Johnson’s Pershore writing class, the RNA Birmingham chapter and the little group of writers I meet with monthly provide an important sounding board and help with maintaining morale for those times you believe everything you are writing is rubbish.


Do you ever experience writers’ block? If so, how do you get past it?

I don’t tend to get blocked when I’m writing, more unsure how to proceed on some plot points. I find a coffee with a friend, a shower or even ironing free my mind, indeed anything where I can’t focus on writing, because my subconscious then does the job itself.


Blurb For “The Girl on the Beach” by Morton S. Gray

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 orange.jpeg

Biography for Morton S. Gray

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, the plot of which closely resembled an Errol Flynn film. 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’ New Writers’ Scheme in 2012.

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 is 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.

Twitter – @MortonSGray

Facebook Page – Morton S. Gray Author –

Purchasing links for “The Girl on the Beach” at



Well, seeing as I’m sat here drinking tea and eating scones with Amanda James in the beautiful cornwall…


I thought I’d ask her a few questions about her new book… SUMMER IN TINTAGEL which was released on the 16th July 2016.


Hi Mandy and thank you for inviting me to tea…. the scones are delicious…!! 

For the purpose of our readers, would you like to tell us a little about yourself?
I used to be a teacher but left the profession in 2012 after 15 years. I really loved working with the children, but I had always wanted to be a writer and decided that it was a now or never moment. So glad I did. I have four novels published already, Summer in Tintagel is my fifth.


How long have you been writing and working toward the goal of being published?

I was bought a typewriter when I was eight after much nagging and never really stopped after that. I decided to take it up seriously thought around 2002 and wrote my first novel then – that became Dancing in the Rain. I was teaching full-time so it took ages before I was actually published. It was a short story in 2010.

Can you describe the time you realised you were a ‘real writer?’

It was when I got the email to say I had the short story published, and then later when I had my first novel accepted. I didn’t think it would ever really happen, but it did!

It’s an amazing feeling isn’t it…??
So, this is your fifth book… can you tell us what the inspiration was behind SUMMER IN TINTAGEL?

The inspiration for Summer in Tintagel came from a walk along the cliff tops at the ancient Tintagel Castle. As I stood on the edge looking onto the rocks I thought how easy it would be to step off and end it all … if a person was so inclined. I’m not, in case you were wondering! Then the ideas kind of came to me from there. I visited Tintagel Castle again later and the sketchy parts became easier to see, bold and exciting. I thought that whole area was the perfect setting for a novel – full of history and mystery. I liked the rugged landscape and the history and mystery of the area.

teacupThis tea is lovely by-the-way and served in such appropriate cups..!! And yes… another scone would be lovely..!! 

So… Would any of your story be based on your life and experience? Who is your favourite character and why?

Yes part of the story is based on my own experience. A few years ago I went with my daughter to see a psychic. It wasn’t the first time I’d done this over the years, but this experience topped them all and certainly gave me something to think about. We sat across a table from each other, in the very ordinary sitting room of a very ordinary house, while the psychic, Maureen shuffled a Tarot pack and then I chose a selection of cards. She turned the cards and said random things that could really apply to anybody, then she started telling me the names of members of my family.
By this stage I was trying not to let my mouth gape open, just nodded here and there, not really trusting my voice. Maureen also told me that I had some lovely vegetables growing in my garden and commented on which ones. She said, ‘Ooh, you’ve some lovely tomatoes and cucumbers there.’ I managed to nod. Then she said, ‘You like to feel the earth under your bare feet while tending them too, don’t you?’ I often did walk around the garden without shoes, still do. As you can imagine, I was gobsmacked to say the least. I asked her how she knew – she said, ‘Well I can see you there in the garden.’ She said it as if it was the most ordinary thing in the world. That really freaked me out I can tell you!
To answer your second question – because of this experience, I was able to create a character in Summer in Tintagel called Morganna, who happens to be a white witch. Maureen wasn’t of course, nor was she remotely anything like her in appearance or personality, but they are very similar in their abilities. I really enjoyed incorporating a little of what I experienced into the scenes between Morganna and my main character, Rosa. My favourite character? Hmm it is a tie between Morganna and Rosa.

white witch of narnia

I love ‘white witches’, in fact I believe my family are descendants of the Romany’s. I’d love to know if it were true and of course everyone loved to read about the ‘white witch of Narnia’, didn’t they?
Have you ever become attached to your characters and have a hard time letting go of them, or are you happy their story is told and you can move on to the next project?


Yes I do! I really loved writing Cross Stitch, the sequel to A Stitch in Time so I could go back and visit Sarah and John! Sometimes I know that the story is done and would be spoiled by a sequel. It is hard to leave the characters, but I always leave them happy with their lives.

If you could be any of your characters, which would it be and why?

If I really had to choose I would be Sarah Needler because she is a time traveller. I’d love to pop back in time on a regular basis and have a chat with historical characters.

I must admit… I loved both Cross Stitch and A Stitch in Time… great books. I believe that A Stitch in Time has 81 x 5 star reviews… so WELL DONE..!!
Are you a meticulous plotter or do you just let it flow?

I am definitely not a planner! I have the basis of a story and then sketch out the characters, jot down a vague idea of where they are going, and then I let them lead me. They often take me down roads I had never dreamt of travelling!
What part of writing a novel do you find most challenging?

I think it would have to be the beginning, middle, and the end… No, seriously, I often find it is the middle because I know where the story starts and ends; it is the middle that can become a bit tangled or saggy. Better than a soggy/saggy bottom I suppose? It is normally around the 30,000-ish mark.

Have you used beta readers, and if so, do you recommend them?
Yes I have and I think they are invaluable. We all get too close to our work and can’t or won’t see the problems! If you can get an honest and constructive beta reader then I would say go for it.

What can your readers expect when they read your book?

I hope they can enjoy an exciting read full of mystery, intrigue and love set against the rugged coastline of north Cornwall.

Can you tell us what you are writing now?

I am about to start a rewrite of a suspense called Cast Away Stones. It’s about a young woman’s search for her birth mother. However when she finds her, she wishes she hadn’t. I might have exciting news concerning that soon

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I think the main thing I would say to new writers is to learn from rejection, take on board what is said and come back stronger. Get a writing buddy that’s honest and perhaps join a writing group. Having said that, getting published and then moving on to the next step in your career has a hell of a lot to do with luck. Don’t give up if your luck is out sometimes. Just keep believing in yourself, try your hardest and never ever give up.


Do you think being a member of an association, such as the Romantic Novelists’ Association is beneficial to new writers, or is a local writing group more helpful?

I think both are helpful, but I have never had direct experience of a local group. I think the RNA is invaluable to new writers and the New Writers’ Scheme in particular can make a huge difference to a writer’s chances. The support of everyone in it is phenomenal too.

So… for anyone wanting an amazing summer read…. then I suggest that SUMMER IN TINTAGEL would be a perfect read, on a lazy summers day…!!


AVAILABLE NOW ON AMAZON… click here to buy….!! xx

The Blurb…

‘Funny, emotional and original, Amanda James has written another fabulous summer read’ – Sue Watson, bestselling author of Love, Lies and Lemon Cake

We all have secrets……

Ambitious journalist Rosa Fernley has been asked to fulfil her grandmother Jocelyn’s dying wish. Jocelyn has also passed on a secret – in the summer of 1968, fleeing from the terror of a bullying husband, she visited the mysterious Tintagel Castle. Jocelyn wasn’t seeking love, but she found it on the rugged clifftops in the shape of Jory, a local man as enigmatic and alluring as the region itself. But she was already married, and knew her husband would never let her find happiness and peace in Jory’s arms.

Now as her days are nearing their end, she begs Rosa to go back to Tintagel, but is unwilling, or unable, to tell her why. Rosa is reluctant – she has a job in London, a deadline that won’t wait and flights of fancy are just not in her nature. Nevertheless, she realises it might be the last thing she will do for her beloved grandmother and agrees to go.

Once in Tintagel, Rosa is challenged to confront secrets of her own, as shocking events threaten to change everything she has ever believed about herself and her family. She also meets a guide to the castle, Talan, a man who bears a striking resemblance to Jory.

Will the past remain cloaked in tragedy, sadness and the pain of unrequited love? Or can Rosa find the courage and strength to embrace the secrets of the past, and give hope to the future?

About Amanda

Amanda James has written since she was a child, but never imagined that her words would be published. Then in 2010, after many twists and turns, the dream of becoming a writer came true.

Amanda has written many short stories and has four novels currently published. A Stitch in Time was published in April of 2013 by and has met with great success.

Also with Choc Lit are Somewhere Beyond the Sea and Dancing in the Rain (March 2014)

Cross Stitch (December 2014)

Summer in Tintagel – Urbane Publications July 2016

Visit‘s Amanda James Page and shop for all Amanda James books. Check out pictures, bibliography, biography and community discussions about Amanda James


Twitter – @akjames61

Facebook mandy.james.33


Summer in Tintagel (Urbane Publications July 2016)
Cross Stitch (Choc Lit December 2014)
Somewhere Beyond the Sea ( Choc Lit April 2014)
Dancing in the Rain (Choc Lit March 2014)
A Stitch in Time (Choc Lit) –
Righteous Exposure (Crooked Cat) –

Interview with Choc Lit’s Kirsty Ferry


Hi there Kirsty.

Thank you so much for coming today. Now then, seeing as I’ve prepared tea and cakes, shall we begin..??



First, would you like to tell us a little about yourself?

I’m married with a fifteen year old son and live in the north east of England. We are 20 minutes away from beautiful countryside, 20 minutes away from the coast and 40 minutes away from Hadrian’s Wall. I love it up here! As well as writing, I have a day job and am studying for a Masters in Creative Writing –  so I often wish I had a clone. I’ve had both fiction and non-fiction published and must admit that I do err on the spooky side for my novels. The Girl in the Painting is my second Choc Lit novel and it’s kind of a linked sequel to Some Veil Did Fall. Both were great fun to write!

What compels you to write and when (your favourite time to write)?

The best time for me to write is in an afternoon – after lunch and before my son comes in from school. I do try to write in other spare moments though, for example if I’m hanging around places waiting. It bugs me when people gather around behind the laptop though. I feel as though they are trying to have a sneaky peek at what I’m doing! I’m terrible – I won’t let anyone read my work until it’s done. What compels me to write is an interesting one. I won’t say deadlines as I’m usually pretty good at being organised for them and they don’t phase me. I’d maybe say if I’m in the middle of a piece and I know the characters to the point where they’ve taken on a life of their own – to the point, in fact, where they are guiding the story, not me, and I want to crack on with it. I also love being creative and telling stories – so maybe that compels me too.


Tell us a little about what are you writing at the moment? Or, what book are you about to release or have just released?

At the minute I’m working on my Masters’ projects, but one of those pieces has been informed by my work on The Girl in the Painting. I did a lot of research on Lizzie Siddal, the Pre-Raphaelite artist’s model for The Girl in the Painting  and some of the extra research has spilled out into other projects – for example, I did a 300 word piece of flash fiction on her which won the TubeFlash competition for Highgate Station in London, where she is buried. I loved writing The Girl in the Painting – it was a way for me to explore all sorts of things like art and London and people starting new lives, and also to revisit the characters from Some Veil Did Fall two years later. The Girl in the Painting is another timeslip novel, wherein my new heroine, Cori, moves down to London from Northumbria and meets Simon, an artist and tour guide at the Tate Britain. Both of them have a passion for all things Pre-Raphaelite and Cori gains possession of a diary, written by a Victorian girl named Daisy, which seems as if it could blow one of the most famous Pre-Raphaelite legends out of the water. The novel traces both Cori and Simon’s romance and Daisy’s life in Victorian London until it all leads to a rather shocking conclusion…


If you had to do an elevator pitch, how would you describe it?

This is a tough one – can ‘buy my book, it’s great!’ not suffice? No? Ok – how about:  The Girl in the Painting is a ghostly timeslip, tracing the parallel lives of modern-day Cori and Victorian Daisy. Is everything in the Pre-Raphaelite art world they both love everything it seems to be – or not?


Are you a panster or a plotter? Or do you do a little of each?

Pantster. Definitely. I do not plot – I just don’t. I have an idea of the start and an idea of the end, but I usually just start with a concept. I write what I think the start should be and work from there. Inevitably, the story changes as I work on it. The characters usually start directing things and suddenly it’ll click. I’ll have that lightbulb moment and go ‘Aha!’ Then the start will change and the end will change – and often the bit in the middle will get reworked a little to drop in hints for the ending. I love working that way. Every book and every story is a surprise!


Tell us about your Choc Lit journey? How did you come to be a Choc Lit author?

Some Veil did fall kirsty ferry

I wrote a short story on a university writing course which had sort of the same premise as Some Veil Did Fall. The heroine was called Becky, she visited a stately home on holiday and seemed to recognise the place. Then she saw a painting of a member of the family who looked identical to her. There was that element of reincarnation and is she/isn’t she going on, but it was only 1500 words long, if that. I continued with my degree and got a bit more experience in creative writing, won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Writing Competition, then decided to write a novel – The Memory of Snow, which is a timeslip situated on Hadrian’s Wall. Refuge, a vampire novel set on Holy Island followed that, along with some short stories for magazines such as Peoples Friend and Weekly News – and I ended up placing all the stories I’d done for that course in anthologies or magazines. I eventually returned to the Becky one and reread it, and decided I could do something more with it – and more importantly, do it much, much better. I extended it into a novel and saw Choc Lit mentioned in Writing Magazine as several of the authors had articles in there. I did some digging and found out they were a romance publisher and accepted paranormals and timeslips. I added more romance to my existing manuscript of Veil and sent it off. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I got a lovely email from Lyn Vernham whilst on holiday in the October half-term – I remember reading it in bed in a Travelodge of all places! – and it said the panel loved it and would I like to meet up? So I said yes, and the rest is history. My book got reworked again, edited and made to shine, then it got published and it was incredibly exciting. A book signing followed at Goth Weekend in Whitby where I met the lovely Jane Lovering and we dressed up suitably Gothic-like, and all the time I was writing Portrait in the background, working, looking after a family and doing my undergraduate degree. Looking back, I was quite possibly mad! But here we are with my second Choc Lit book and hopefully the panel will like more of my stuff in the future as well. I have already submitted book three in the series to Choc Lit, which picks up the story three years in the future, and also another two novels in a different series. I’ll just have to see what happens and keep everything crossed! Nothing is guaranteed in the writing world and I fully understand that.


If your hero was a type of chocolate, what would he be?

What else could he be but chocolate caramel??? My absolute favourites.



mens and womens names.png

How do you choose hero and heroine names?

Randomly, Very very randomly. I have a few girls’ first names squirrelled away that I really like and want to use. I’m going through those at the minute. Cori’s full name is Corisande – it was a name I encountered on a visit to a stately home years ago, when I was a teenager. It was on the family tree of the owners in the nineteenth century, and it was so unusual it stuck with me and I used it for Painting. I do like unusual names for heroines. Apart from Becky – I just liked the name and it suited her! Men’s names are more difficult. I can’t use names I associate with people I know – and as I have a son with lots of friends and worked briefly in a primary school, it’s hard to use names that don’t bring a vision of a child to me! I will always Google the full names of both hero and heroine, though, to make sure it’s not a real person if possible!

happy and healthy

What are your dreams for the future?

Gosh – for me and my loved ones to be happy and healthy I would say. World peace would be nice – and an end to all the horrible stuff we see in the news. Writing-wise, more of the same please! To pass my Masters, to have more books published and to continue to sell short stories and articles.

world peace

What are you favourites:

Day of the week: Saturday! Long, hot bubble bath incorporating a book and wine night.

Book: Hmmm – would either be Wuthering Heights or Thornyhold.

wuthering heights

Author: based on the above – Emily Bronte or Mary Stewart. A more modern author would be Susanna Kearsley.

Holiday Destination: Brockdish in Norfolk.

Childhood memory: bizarrely, being in the back of the car with my Grandma. I used to lie down and rest my head in her lap to have a sleep. If I close my eyes and think about it, I can still smell the special smell of her clothes and feel how comfy it was with her hand stroking my hair. I tend not to do it though as I’d end up a blubbering wreck, even though she’s been gone almost thirty years. I think she’d be proud of me and in a way I still sense her around me. So yes – my Grandma!

Writing Moment: Winning the Belsay competition, being treated like a VIP for the day and seeing myself on the front page of The Journal! That morning, walking to work, my old boss pulled up his car and shouted ‘Well done!’ across one of the busiest streets in Newcastle. I felt like I had finally proved something and thought ‘I can do this!’.  Also getting my first five-star review on my first novel. That was a good ‘un too!

five stars


Well…. I’d like to say a very big thank you Kirsty, for your 5 star interview.


and finally

Thank you for reading xx

Guest Interview with Jane Risdon – Spinning plates and In a word: Murder

Good morning to everyone on this rainy saturday morning. I’m sitting in my office watching the raindrops bounce on the patio table, while the leaves fall from the tree, all over my beautifully mowed lawn (guess what I’ll be doing later..!!)

Lynda: Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Jane Risdon, author of In a word: Murder

Lynda: Before we start,  I’d like to say… “Get well soon”

Jane has recently had quite a serious operation on her shoulder and collar bone to repair the damage that she did when falling down the staircase at her sister’s house.

get well soon

Lynda: I asked Jane to tell me about herself, this was her amazing reply:

Jane Risdon: I began writing at an early age but didn’t take it up seriously until about four years ago. Having spent most of my adult life working in the International Music Business, working with song-writers, singers, record producers and in music publishing and production I spent most of my time on the road, touring, in the studio recording, or making music videos, so there was little time to concentrate on writing in any serious manner. An old friend, a successful award-winning writer, read some of my work and encouraged me to make time for myself and my own dreams and asked me to co-write a book with her. This is now underway. It is a departure from my usual Crime/Mystery stories and so many of my readers may well be surprised when it’s finally published.
I’m also working on several novels and short stories – some of which have been published on-line and in anthologies, as well as being pod-cast from time to time. I also write flash fiction.
I’m married to a musician whom I met when his band came to live nearby when I was still at school. We eventually worked together travelling the world with our artists and living in many countries over the years. We have one son and three grandchildren.

Lynda: Wow Jane, that’s quite impressive. I know who to contact if ever I want a rock star hero for my novel.


Lynda: What is your favourite memory of writing?

Jane Risdon: I think it was probably when I actually managed to complete the first draft of Ms Birdsong Investigates – 100,000 words which made sense to me and looked like a ‘real’ manuscript. I was over-awed and thrilled and kept looking at it and wondering how on earth I managed to find all those words.

Lynda: Where or what inspires you?

Jane Risdon: I get inspiration from all over the show. Sometimes I draw on past experiences – a lot of my stories are music based (but not all) and I often include an element of espionage in my stories which I guess comes from when I worked in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office before I got married. I walk a lot and take photos and get inspiration from what I see – ideas for locations mainly. I find I get the title of a story pop into my head and then I have to go and write something related. The News, people I meet and conversations I over-hear – have inspired me.

favourite characters
Lynda: Who is your favourite character from one of your own stories:

Jane Risdon:  I’m working on at the time. However, having said that I really love Ms Birdsong (Ms Birdsong Investigates); she is the ex MI5 Officer who is ‘retired’ prematurely from the service when a mission goes wrong. She moves to a rural Oxfordshire village, Ampney Parva in the Vale of the White Horse, and old habits die hard and she cannot resist keeping her neighbours under surveillance. Soon she finds herself investigating murder.


Lynda: Who is your perfect hero/heroine

Jane Risdon: Well, as you may have gathered by now I don’t write romance, I write crime and mystery, and so I am not sure I have any heroes in the sense you might be expecting me to have.

My heroes (heroines) would be from books such as Frenchman’s Creek (Daphne Du Maurier) and Jamaica Inn – strong female characters I suppose. I love the characters in Agatha Christie’s books –


Ms Marple is amazing and I love her intellect and powers of deduction and perception. I adore Doris Day for many reasons (not a writer of course) but mainly for her hard work and determination as an artist, and her sheer talent of course.

dorris day

In general I am not one to have heroes/heroines and so I suppose I must disappoint with my response to this question; sorry.

Lynda: Not at all, it’s a good response.! I loved both Doris Day and Ms Marple.


Lynda: Would you ever used parts of your own life in a novel?

Jane Risdon: I guess the answer to this is yes. I have tried not to but with the life I’ve led and having encountered the people (characters) I’ve met over the years and worked with, it would be hard not to base some of my characters and situations on my own life experiences. As I mentioned before I worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when young and coupled with an over-active imagination and a love of Spy novels and all things Espionage, I would be daft not to use this knowledge in some of my stories. The Music business in Hollywood and London and around the world in general is exciting, full of over the top and larger than life characters and spilling over with lust, greed; high-powered individuals whose reach extends further than the business of selling music. Where there is money and power there is always crime of one sort or another and the Music business is littered with shady characters; a feast for someone like me. All names changed of course as I cannot afford to be sued or wake up to find a horse’s head in my bed or to take a swim wearing concrete boots!

Lynda: I would love to know more about Espionage… I’ll go make the tea..!!


Lynda: Now we’ve had tea. (some two hours later, Jane has so many stories, I could seriously listen all day.


Lynda: Could I ask, when is your favourite time of year to write?

Jane Risdon: I don’t think I have one, although I do love the summer when the mornings are light from very early on and I can sit and write without distractions. But then, I also love the cold winter months when I can shut the world out, have a lovely cup of tea beside me and possibly a good thriller on the TV or radio for background noise as I write.

Lynda: I’ll make another drink. do you prefer biscuits of Chocolate?

Jane Risdon: Oh dear, I fear I am going to be a pain again and say neither. Well, unless they are savoury biscuits along with a strong Stilton cheese. When I write I like to nibble on liquorice, does that count?

Lynda: Ohhhhhhhh crakers and stilton… don’t mind if I do.!!

Lynda: What are you working on now?

Jane Risdon: I think you are going to regret asking this one Lynda. Where to start?

Okay, ‘Ms Birdsong Investigates’. She has taken me an age to write, family things have been getting in the way and then I fell down the stairs and injured myself so typing is difficult and this has all messed with my timeline regarding my writing, especially Ms. B.
Having had to leave her alone for a while – I wanted to think about her some more and change lots of things – I came back to her this year and found that my writing has improved since I left her alone. So I am writing parts again, messing around with the story in general and generally giving her a good old spring clean. Whilst doing this I have managed to write two stand-alone Ms B. stories (novels) which I think will be part of a series involving her. So now I have Mrs. Birdsong Investigates – my first Ms B. novel, then there is ‘Murder at the Observatory,’ and recently ‘The Safe House’. I hope to publish these this year.
I am working on various projects for Charity anthologies – I am proud to have had stories included in three anthologies to date: In A Word: Murder, I Am Woman Vol. 1 and Telling Tales. Another anthology is on the cards for Christmas this year. The short story I have written for this is so far is called ‘The Stalker,’ and I am working on another story which for the moment is called ‘Dying to Meet You’.
In addition to the short stories and flash fiction I often write – and really enjoy – I am working on a series of what I call Observational Humour short stories, ‘God’s Waiting Room,’ which is based on my experiences staying in a rural village and having to take the bus into town. The same characters often waited for the bus with me and gave me such an entertaining time with their stories and experiences during the War and other events in their lives….I had to write about them.
My life and times in Music have inspired my novel – called ‘La La Land,’ for now – it features two rock musicians from England auditioning for a Super Star’s touring band in Hollywood and what happens to them; all based on fact. It is about half way completed.
Having researched Family History for almost four decades I’ve written a novel called ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,’ about an English family discovering Southern Irish relations and their visit to meet them for the first time, and what happens; highlighting the differences between the English and the Irish. This is almost completed.
I have been working on a novel set in Bollywood, the Mumbai movie business, featuring two Englishmen stranded in the city after the Mumbai bombings and their encounter with the underworld there. This is about a quarter of the way through.
So you see I am busy and although it must seem chaotic going from one book to another, I find it stops me getting bored or too bogged down. I relate the process to writing and recording songs in that it is all done in stages and sometimes one part is started but cannot be completed until another part is worked upon, and I guess it is a habit I’ve got myself into. It works for me. Whether any of my work is worth the effort will only become apparent if/when people buy my books.


Lynda: That’s amazing Jane, I find that I can only work on one project at a time. So credit where credit is due. Keep spinning those plates..!!

ok so what's next

Lynda: Could I ask, other than having major operations. What’s happening next?

Jane Risdon: Throughout the summer of 2014 I’ve been submitting to Publishers, for the first time, just testing the water and gaining experience in just how to go about it all. I didn’t submit any of my novels (still WIP anyway) but put together a collection of my Short Stories (mainly crime/mystery) as a collection which I thought some might be interested in. In fact, some publisher websites asked specifically for collections and detailed genre, word count and so forth, but when I submitted I was told many don’t accept one single author’s collections as they are not always easy to sell, and that I should submit just the one story of a given length. I know, why ask for them and then say they don’t publish them any longer!
I am still waiting to hear back from several who are not giving decisions until early October, but I was also asked to send more stories to various companies – which I did – who were interested in publishing novelettes and novellas from 3,000-10,000 words. I await the outcome with baited breath. However, I did receive an offer from one company which turned out to be a Vanity Publisher, which I passed on. Last year I had an offer from a publisher where a friend had put a good word in for me – but I didn’t give them a decision due to the amount of work and time required as I was not able to undertake such a mammoth task due to my physical condition at that time. I believe the door is still open so when I complete Ms Birdsong Investigates, and if I am in need of another publisher by then, I shall consider them.
In July I submitted to Accent Press Ltd and after two months got a reply. They don’t publish single author collections but wanted to know if I’d be interested in submitting a short story towards their Halloween anthology, and also one for their Christmas anthology. I said I’d give it a go – having looked them up I thought they had a good track record and I know some of the authors they publish.
I’ve not really written a Ghost story before – unless you count The Ghost in the Privy – which is part of a series I’ve been writing, for a while, called God’s Waiting Room. This story is a comedy, and has been published in Telling Tales, an anthology published by Moonworks in 2012. I didn’t think it suited this publisher’s requirements, so I sat down and contemplated the blank screen for a while and then out popped The Haunting of Anne Chambers.
Last year I got really good feed-back from readers and writers about my two flash fiction pieces called The Secret of Willow Cottage: the Tale of the Reluctant Bride, and the prequel called The Secret of Willow Cottage: The Tale of the Jilted Lover, which is a love story-cum-pirate story. My inspiration came from my research into Piracy for these stories. Hence, The Haunting of Anne Chambers.
I was offered a contract by Accent Press Ltd for my story with options on my others and it has now been signed and editing is almost completed. The title of the collection it is included in is called Shiver and features best-selling authors: Andrea Frazer, Bill Kitson, Caroline Dunford, Christina Jones, Helena Fairfax, Tricia Maw, Marie Laval, Cara Cooper and David Rogers – and me!
Publication date is early October.
My Christmas story, awaiting a decision about being published in their anthology, is called Merry Christmas Everybody. It is based on a true story – my own experiences when working in a recording studio one Christmas soon after the death of a rock super-star. It was the time of the Lockerbie disaster over Scotland (plane blown up), and I shall never forget it. If anyone read and liked my stories, Dreamer or Hollywood Cover Up (In A Word: Murder anthology), they’ll know what to expect from this story – there are some four-letter words. If you’ve ever worked with rock bands or in the Movie/TV business in Los Angeles, you’ll be used to it. Be warned.

Lynda: How can people hear more about your work?

Jane Risdon: Links to SHIVER and where to buy it will be posted on my author blog when I know the publication date. It will also be posted on my Facebook authorpage at that time.

Lynda: Thank you so much for joining me today. Really enjoyed chatting to you, and loved the tea, cakes, crackers and stilton. Shall we open the wine?