Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Morton S Gray: My Path to Publication

It is always a thrill to hear about our members’ new books. To know that a book enabled an NWS member to graduate to full membership makes it extra special. Today we welcome Morton S Gray who shares the story of her journey to publication.

Like many writers, I’ve dreamed of publication for many years, but I still have to pinch myself to
remind me that my debut, The Girl on the Beach, will be launched into the world by Choc Lit on 24 January 2017.

A love of stories comes from my early years. My mother always read to me. We visited the library as a family on Saturdays. My nan read to me too, usually falling asleep at a good bit, and she watched films with me on those long ago Sunday afternoons. I loved Enid Blyton, wanted a big brother called Julian and longed to be whisked away by a dark hero on a tall ship with the sails billowing, after watching so many Errol Flynn swashbucklers.

In my early teens, I would hide away in the little attic room behind the chimney at home, writing poems and stories. I had a box of pictures and items that inspired my writing. I still have this fascinating time capsule that also contains the pages of my first novel. It was typed on an electronic typewriter on A5 pages and I gave it to a school friend to read aged fourteen. I taught myself to type to help with my father’s fledgling business. My nana and my dad are sadly not here to share my publication success.

Then … life happened. I didn’t write much apart from academic assignments, work reports and training materials for thirty years.

In 2006, I was recovering from two operations. Someone locally launched a short story competition to advertise their new publishing venture, I entered and unbelievably won. I was looking for a new direction, feeling a little lost at the time, so I enrolled on a creative writing course to see if I could write. My friend joined me in this adventure and we had great fun speed writing in cafes and sharing our work with laughter and coffee.

The academic course I studied introduced me to plays, flash fiction, short stories, poems and memoirs. I’ve always loved learning, but quickly realised this was taking me away from where I wanted to be - longer fiction and novels were calling me. I read, Sue Moorcroft’s Starting Over and found my genre.

Mills and Boon called for entries for a competition and after a day course on heroes and heroines with Iona Grey in Cheshire, I wrote my chapter and entered it. I didn’t get anywhere in this competition, but I met lots of other writers online, many of whom I’m still friends with and a fair proportion I’ve now met in real life.

Sue Johnson, whose weekly writing course I attended for many years, suggested I join the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme and I was lucky enough to gain one of the competitively sought after places in 2012. The yearly critiques have helped to mould my writing and proved invaluable. I have moved heaven and earth to make sure I submitted a manuscript each year.

Attendance at the RNA events is so helpful too. I relish the yearly conference and love chapter meetings. I’m a member of Birmingham Chapter and can still feel those butterflies when I arrived for my first meeting at the library steps in Birmingham and saw someone else looking anxious at the top. It turned out to be Janice Preston and it was her first meeting too. We’ve been friends ever since.

I entered a chapter and was shortlisted for the 2013 New Talent Award at the then Festival of Romance and again met writers whom I number amongst my friends – Bella Osborne, Lynda Stacey, Catherine Miller, Lucie Wheeler, Lizzie Lamb, Vanessa Savage, Kate Scolefield to name a few. We’ve done well, girls!

In 2014, I began to write the story that became The Girl on the Beach on the back of an envelope while my husband drove the car down the motorway. At one point, he asked if I was okay, as I was so quiet. In 2015, I sent this manuscript to the NWS and received my most encouraging report yet with suggestions for tweaking. Thank you to my reader. When the book was revised, I submitted it to Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition and won!

I guess if I had to give advice to wannabes it would be learn the craft, write loads, enter competitions and submit your work to publishers. There is, I believe, no magic formula, just hard work and persistence.

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.

About Morton:
Morton S. Gray lives with her husband, sons and Lily, the tiny dog, in Worcestershire, U.K.
She joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme in 2012. Winner of Choc Lit Publishing’s Search for a Star 2016. Debut novel The Girl on the Beach published by Choc Lit 24 January 2017.

Twitter: @MortonSGray
Facebook Page – Morton S. Gray Author

Thank you so much for sharing your writing journey with us Morton. Good luck with your book launch.

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Sheryl Browne said...

Well done, Morton. I know how hard you've worked and how nervous you were. As a fellow Choc Lit author, I know your book will be fab and I can't wait to read The Girl on the Beach! Go you! :) xx

Deedee said...

Fantastic! Massive congrats. x

Jan Baynham said...

Congratulations, Morton. This is such an inspiring post for writers like me in the NWS scheme. Your book sounds great! ๐Ÿ™‚

Natalie Kleinman said...

Lovely post, Morton. Huge congratulations and wishing you every success with The Girl on the Beach. It sounds like a fabulous read

Francesca Capaldi said...

Good to hear of your success, Morton. Wishing all the best with The Girl on the Beach.

Janice Preston said...

Great post, Morton, and huge congratulations on your success. Having read an earlier draft on The Girl in the Beach, I just know it's going to fly! And how well I remember our first meeting on the steps of the old Birmingham library - we've come a long way since then x

Marilyn Rodwell said...

Fabulous post, Morton! Congratulations! Another success for the Birmingham Chapter!

angela britnell said...

Congratulations and love the sound of your book - can't wait to read it very soon!

Merryn Allingham said...

Lovely to hear of your success, Morton. All the very best for publication day.

Morton S Gray said...

Thank you for all your lovely comments - wipes away a tear - everyone is so supportive. As I'm finding out, everything is a learning curve, even writing blog posts!

Jenni Keer said...

Lovely post.
Lovely lady.

Rae Cowie said...

Congratulations, Morton.Your success is so well deserved. An inspiring post for us NWS-ers! Good luck. x

Sandra Mackness said...

A great post, Morton. Wishing you all success with your novel. Lovely title, with Spring and Summer promo in mind!

Kate Scholefield said...

So thrilled for you, Morton! That was a vintage year at the Festival of Romance! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Good luck with the book - can't wait to read it! x

Morton S Gray said...

Thank you for your comments! I think I'm proof the NWS works well. Looking forward to being a reader myself to give something back. Mx

Isabella Connor said...

Sounds just fabulous, Morton - can't wait to read it. Congratulations on the launch, and wishing you loads of sales/success.

Liv x

Anonymous said...

Look forward to reading the book.

Morton S Gray said...

Thank you Liv and Susan! Mx ๐Ÿ’

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