Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Ups and One Down

There’s nothing like a new baby to make everyone smile and this year we’re very lucky to have not one but two new babies in our blended family; Rose and Si’s new daughter and, in a few weeks time, my stepson, Tom, and his lovely fiancee, Amey, expect their first baby.

When Tom and Amey decide to get in a few early cuddles with the newest arrival, the rest of us quickly get in on the act too. It’s very special to see Ma with her great-granddaughters but naturally, because we want to take photographs, Baby Joy decides she’d like a really long sleep and Bee wears herself out chasing Grandad round the garden! We get there in the end with some lovely memories captured in pictures.

The next day we're in Worthing visiting Father-in-law who’s tripped up on the device he’s designed to hold a mat in place to stop himself tripping up… He thinks his foot, which has borne the brunt of the fall, is probably ok. Tom and I inspect the damage and decide it’s not at all ok. After doing the medical rounds, FiL ends up being treated for a broken toe and a deep cut, but I’m pleased to report he’s on the mend now. Phew!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Sea Stories

'Fish Shack' by Lane Mathias

Sometimes a story comes along that demands to be written; the opening scenes of my first novel, Turning the Tide, came to me when we were pottering around in Veryan, our vintage wooden boat. Little Spitmarsh, the struggling seaside town where the novel is set, was inspired by some of the sleepy places we visited during our first Epic Voyage. I also loved writing Follow A Star which drew me back to Little Spitmarsh. However, I also know how it feels to wrestle with a story; there were many times I felt like giving up with my second novel, Move Over Darling, so it was all the more satisfying when I finally typed ‘The End'.

I’ve been ticking over with the novel that’s been taking me in a slightly different direction but progress has been slow. Even so, I’ve been happy to do the heavy lifting to get this novel going and then - contrary to all the advice to ‘finish the damn story’ - I was struck by an idea for a new Little Spitmarsh novel that, no matter how hard I tried to ignore it, refused to go away. Serendipity seemed to confirm my decision to go for it when a wonderful painting by the very talented artist, Lane Mathias appeared on my Facebook.  Fish Shack sums up everything I love about my fictional town, Little Spitmarsh. I snapped the painting up immediately and it now hangs above my desk to cheer me along on the days when the writing flows against, rather than with, the tide.

Sailing, a bit like writing, can flow. Or not. Our first shakedown cruise of the season in Blue Nun last weekend got off to a shaky start with missing items, a wasp’s nest in the making in the cabin and the usual wiring and engine glitches. Then, hurray, the tide turned in our favour. I didn’t need to wear my thermals at night, we had a sleepy little anchorage all to ourselves and a fair wind took us all the way back to the mooring under sail. The first adventure this year, in our small boat.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Guest Author: Morton S Gray

I’m chatting today to Morton S. Gray, whose debut romantic suspense novel, "The Girl on the Beach" was e-published by Choc Lit in January 2017. I asked her a few questions about romance.

Why did you choose to write romantic suspense novels?

I think the romantic suspense genre chose me!
When I decided to explore creative writing, I studied for a Certificate of Higher Education in Creative Writing with The Open College of the Arts and the courses explored poetry, short stories, flash fiction, plays and memoir writing. During the same period, I went to a weekly creative writing class with Sue Johnson in Pershore, Worcestershire. Sue encourages you to explore too.

After this time of exploration, I concluded that I wanted to write longer fiction with a strong romantic element. I began to read a lot of books published by Choc Lit and couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to get a publishing contract with that publisher for my debut when I won their Search for a Star competition.

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Most definitely. I fell in love with my husband the first time I saw a picture of him! We are a good example of a modern romance, as we met online and have been married fourteen years now. There was something about his eyes, his face, him… in that picture. I remember being so disappointed that he lived 200 miles away from me.
We emailed for a couple of months, so we knew a lot about each other before we ever met in real life. We met up halfway at Woodstock in Oxfordshire. I can still feel my gulp inside when I realised he was as gorgeous as his picture – tall, blond, solid, mmm… This couldn’t be happening to me.
I was, of course, wary, as I’d been badly hurt before. We wandered around the shops and chose things for an imaginary house, table, chairs, sofa, glasses, ornaments. I didn’t want to leave him.

What is the most romantic thing that’s happened to you?

I think it would have to be hubbie’s marriage proposal. He sent me the marriage vows, one by one by text message when he was working away in Sweden. To begin with, I thought he was joking and replied with some flippant comments. For example, to “all my worldly goods” I asked if I could use his digital camera (then a very new thing). It began to sink in that he was serious and, not only that, he was willing to move 200 miles north. I’m still madly in love with him. We are very lucky, or meant to be.

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’.  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
Twitter - @MortonSGray
Facebook Page – Morton S. Gray Author -
Purchasing links for “The Girl on the Beach” at

“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.

I'm delighted to add that Morton is one of three Choc Lit Authors Shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists' Association's prestigious Joan Hessayon Award.  Morton's, "The Girl on the Beach", Victoria Cornwall's "The Thief's Daughter" and Lynda Stacey's "House of Secrets", along with debut novels from eight more new novelists, will be contending for the Award.  The winner will be announced at the Romantic Novelists' Association Summer Party on Thursday 18th May.