Tuesday Guest Feature – Fin C Gray

Today’s guest is a very talented writer who I met at my first residential writing course back in 2012. Fin C. Gray has recently published his debut novel, Duplicity, and has come along to share his experience about writing and publication. Without further ado, let’s go over to Fin.

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Duplicity 

Fin C Gray 

I started writing Duplicity as the required submission for my Creative Writing MA at Manchester Metropolitan University. It was one of the reasons I chose to do the degree: I finally wanted to force myself to finish and commit to a novel. I finished the book in late 2016 and graduated with Merit in 2017. I spent the following year polishing and proofreading Duplicity (which at that time was titled Bad Religion – I changed it because many people thought that title was too provocative).

When I was satisfied that the manuscript was in good shape, I began to submit three-chapter samples to various publishing houses that seemed to fit my brief, mainly finding them from Artists and Writers Yearbook. That’s when the waiting game seemed to begin, although I found later the REAL waiting game starts after you sign your publication contract. After a month or two, after hearing nothing from anyone I had approached, I got an email professing interest and asking me to submit the full novel. This was a great surprise to me, especially since I had received no rejections thus far. A week or two later, I received a second request from a New York-based publisher.

A short time after, both publishing houses offered me a contract, and I felt like I was in a uniquely luxurious situation, given the considerable expectation of rejection I had galvanised my emotions with. I got The Society of Authors to vet the contracts for me as I felt like a fish out of water, and I knew that they offered this service to their members. Ultimately, I went with the London based house who had first requested my manuscript. I signed the contract with them on November 7th, 2018. My book was eventually released on November 28th, 2019. That’s what I mean by the waiting game starting after signing the contract.

In the two months since publication, I’ve busied myself promoting the book on various social media platforms, and I have also begun work on my second novel. For this, I wanted to try something completely different, and I have turned to an idea that I first had for a book over twenty-five years ago. It occurred to me that I maybe should have attempted this for my MA course, but as it is a work of Young Adult fiction, I might have subsequently doubted my ability to make any mark in the adult fiction market. So, in a way, I’m glad I have taken the route I have. It may prove to be a mistake to hop genres at this early stage of my writing career, but I feel I need to get this out of my system. I think it might be fun to write something less dark and challenging than the first. I also want to force myself to tighten up on my writing timescales. Three years seems too long for one book, in retrospect, especially since you can expect to tack on another year for the publication process, as it turns out.

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Thank you, Fin, for sharing your experience of writing and publishing Duplicity, and congratulations on the MA. Do come back and visit ‘Patricia’s Pen’ once you’ve finished novel number 2. It sounds very exciting.

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Let’s find out a little more about Fin.

About Fin C Gray

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Fin C Gray was born in Central Scotland but has spent his time between London and New York for the last twenty years. Now semi-retired, he invests in theatre and film. An avid traveller, Fin enjoys making trips abroad learning about cultures and customs. He is a graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University where he was awarded an MA in Creative writing with Merit in 2017. This book was the result of this degree. He is now working on his second novel and hopes to write full time in the future.

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Fancy a taster of Duplicity? Read the opening of the first chapter below.

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Duplicity 

Chapter 1 

Then 

Daniel wasn’t set to go home yet. Jenny would be there already, and Mum wouldn’t be back for at least an hour. He ducked down as he passed the house. No way was he going to let Jenny tag along and spoil this for him. Dad would kill him if he knew – and if Jenny knew, Dad would know too. There was nothing surer than that.

‘Don’t ever let me catch you going to that lorry park, son. Right? I’ll whack your arse if I ever hear that you’ve gone there.’

When he’d asked Dad what was wrong with the lorry park, all he’d said was, ‘Just do what I tell you, OK?’ What could be so bad about it? OK, it was dusty, and his school uniform would get all dirty, but he could shake it off in their back yard, in the wind. Nobody would know. The dust blew over the road onto their house nearly every day, anyway. It could just have got on his blazer from the wind, couldn’t it, if anyone asked? If Mum asked. Probably there was a lot more of it in the actual park, mind, so he’d more than likely have to shake it off.

Mum and Dad seemed to love moaning about the park. Dad even spoke to Black Jash, the owner of the café, about it and got angry with him. He was shouting a lot, something about it being the café’s responsibility and that he should pay to get it tarmacked. Black Jash had shouted back at Dad. He’d got very red in the face. Daniel hoped that Black Jash would get the lorry park tarred over. Because then the tar lorries would come. Nothing smelled better than hot tar, and Daniel loved to step on it while it was still sticky. Not sticky enough to dirty up his shoes, mind. That had happened once when he was much smaller, and Mum had been mad at him. She said she couldn’t afford any new shoes and that he’d have to go to school in bare feet. She was joking, but he had believed her.

Better than the tar itself were the big black lorries that poured the thick, black, lumpy stuff out. What a roar they made. And the roar would turn into a grindy, scrapy noise when the back started to rise and the tail-gate opened up. Oh, how he would love to pull the lever that tipped the tar out of the back. He’d jump out of the lorry as it tipped and watch the tar spill out the back, like some big metal robot mouth throwing up black sick.

And then there’d be road rollers. Rollers, with their hissing and banging, were probably even better than the tar lorries. Yeah, he’d rather have a go on a road roller than a tar lorry, any day. He could pull the thing that made the smoke whistle out of the chimney at the side of the cab and watch the roller flatten out the mounds of tar as flat and black as liquorice toffee.

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Hooked? Want to know where to buy? 

Publisher’s website

Amazon 

Waterstones (UK)

Barnes and Noble (US and Worldwide)

To find out more about Fin and his writing please click on the links below

website

Twitter

Instagram

Duplicity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Story Challenge

Josie Gilbert’s response to the challenge to write a story in UNDER one hundred works comes in the form of  ‘Cairngorms.’

Cairngorms

Tonight, would be a night of firsts – her first time glamping and her first visit to the Cairngorms. It was February and already dark when she arrived. She unpacked, cooked a meal, and then stepped outside into the cold night air, cradling a mug of hot chocolate.

A fox barked in the distance, but otherwise – silence. Gazing up she saw a myriad of stars, sparkling in an inky, blue-black sky. A flicker of green appeared on the horizon and gradually grew. The Northern Lights, or Merrie Dancers, dancing across the heavens. Another first.

94 words

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What a first. To see the Northern Lights, Josie, is on my to-do list.

 

Tuesday Guest Feature – Michael Sanchez

My Tuesday guest this week is writer Michael Sanchez. Michael has been on ‘Patricia’s Pen’ in the past with his response from the story challenge ‘What Lies You Tell’. Today however, he has come to chat about his writing. Without further ado, let’s go over to Michael.

 

About My Writing

Michael Sanchez

When I was growing up in New Jersey at about eight or nine years old, I use to watch World War I and World War II history documentaries on the PBS channel, and would try to write down everything that the narrator was saying in a composition book. I enjoyed doing that and did it for about a year but soon moved on to other things like other kids of that age. Little did I know at the time that many years later I’d write and publish my first book Vine Street. I guess the skill was always in me, I just didn’t know it.

I was always fascinated with the movies from Hammer Film Productions, Alfred Hitchcock, and Stephen King, but one day I saw a movie that particularly inspired me directed by John Carpenter. That movie was Halloween which prompted an idea for my first book, but it then took another 35 years to get started and almost another three with it just sitting on the shelf. I’d intended to trash it and give up on the writing.

However, one day a stranger overhead a conversation I was having with someone who’d approached me. The stranger said he could tell how passionate I was about my writing and disappointed that I was going to trash my work. He then went on to say,  ‘Don’t do it. Give it a chance.’

I’m glad I listened to that stranger and went on to publish my debut novel. I am now excited to complete the manuscript for my second book and get that published too. The genre is suspense, thriller, and a little horror in-between, but hopefully my readers will enjoy it.

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Thank you for sharing that with us, Michael. I think all writers doubt themselves sometimes and we just need that one person to believe in us. Good luck with the second book and do come back and tell us when you’re ready for publication.

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Let’s find out a little more about Michael.

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About Michael Sanchez 

Michael Sanchez grew up in South Jersey, where he completed his education in Woodrow Wilson High School. He continued his education many years later at the age of 39 when he decided to attend college. He completed his education and obtained an MBA, Bachelor of Science in Management, and AA in Criminal Justice. His goal is to continue writing stories that will entice readers to use their imagination.

Click on the links to purchase Michael Sanchez’s novel, Vine Street

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

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You can find Michael Sanchez on Twitter

 

 

Tuesday Guest Feature – Madalyn Morgan

It gives me great pleasure to welcome author, Madalyn Morgan, to ‘Patricia’s Pen’. Madalyn has come along to talk about her writing and in particular ‘The Dudley Sisters.’ Without further ado, let’s go over to Madalyn.

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The Dudley Sisters

Madalyn Morgan

Several things happened while I was doing a creative writing course with the Writers Bureau in Manchester. I have always been fascinated by the achievements of women in the Twentieth Century – especially in WW1 and WW2. My mother used to tell me about her life in the second world war; the work she did, the dances she went to, and the many letters she wrote to servicemen overseas. (She had a Polish penfriend called Vanda, which is my middle name.) My mum had a fascinating life, so when it came to the biography module, I wrote about her. My tutor liked the work but said, as mum and I were both unknown, I should turn it into a fiction.

At the same time, mum wanted to give back a brass aeroplane; a Wellington Bomber that had been made for her by a Polish airman in 1940. He had died, but I found his son who was delighted with the plane. It was then that I decided to set my novels in WW2. I had too many ideas for one book, so I plotted four. Four sisters, four wartime careers and four loves became The Dudley Sisters’ Saga. I still have my mum’s biography. One day I will turn it into fiction.

 

In Foxden Acres we meet all the Dudley sisters. As the first novel in the saga, it is predominantly Bess’s story.  Bess is the oldest daughter of the Foxden Estate’s head groom. A scholarship girl, she becomes a teacher in London. When war breaks out and the schoolchildren are evacuated, Bess returns to Foxden and, with a troop of Land Girls, turns the Foxden Estate into arable land.

Traditional barriers come crashing down when Flying Officer James Foxden, heir to the Foxden Estate, and Bess fall in love. Bess’s story is one of friendships and loyalty, of strength, love and loss, and learning to love again.

Applause is Margot, the second Dudley sisters’ story. Margot marries her childhood sweetheart and moves to London. She is fiercely ambitious and works her way from being an usherette in a West End theatre to being the leading lady of the show. However, she becomes caught up in a web of deceit, black-market racketeers, Nazis, drugs and alcohol.

Book three, China Blue, is Claire Dudley’s story. Claire joins the WAAF. She excels in languages and is recruited by the Special Operations Executive to work in German-occupied France. While working with the French Resistance, Claire falls in love. The affair has to be kept secret. When her lover is captured by the SS Claire uses her training to find him.

Ena Dudley, the youngest sister, works in an engineering factory making small dials and disks. When Coventry is bombed, she has to take this vital equipment to Bletchley Park. Travelling on the 9:45 To Bletchley train Ena is drugged and robbed. She is accused of being involved in sabotage and while trying to clear her name discovers the thief is a spy. With the help of military intelligence, Ena traps the spy and falls in love.

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The first four books are set during WW2, I tried to vary the genres – land army, show business, SOE agent and spy thriller.

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Book five, Foxden Hotel, is a murder mystery and stand-alone sequel to Foxden Acres that brings the sisters together again. The book opens during the New Year’s Eve party of 1948 when Bess is threatened by someone from her and Margot’s past.

Chasing Ghosts, a stand-alone sequel to China Blue, is a psychological thriller. In 1949, after having treatment for shell-shock in Canada, Claire’s husband is accused of treason. He goes missing and Claire travels to Canada and France to find him and prove his innocence – and to expose the real traitor.

There Is No Going Home – a spy thriller set in 1958 England and 1936 Berlin. Ena sees a spy whose funeral she attended ten years before, but no one believes her. While investigating the woman, Ena’s colleague and a friend at MI5 are murdered. Ena doesn’t know who she can trust. Threats and car accidents only make her more determined to find the truth

I am halfway through writing my eighth novel. Framed – a sequel to There Is No Going Home – is a murder mystery and cold war spy thriller. Ena’s assignment was to expose the mole at M15, but someone got to the mole before her and made sure there would be no investigation, except into Ena’s husband who has been framed for killing the mole.

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Thank you, Madalyn. You have written a great collection of books. For anyone that hasn’t read any of Madalyn’s books then I suggest you should as they will have you turning the page. Links to where you can purchase them will be supplied at the end of the blog.

I hope you manage to get your Mother’s bio done, Madalyn, in the near future and good luck with Framed, the new novel. Once again thank you for coming along today.

Let’s find out a little more about Madalyn 

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About Madalyn Morgan 

Madalyn Morgan was bought up in a pub in the market town of Lutterworth. Her dream was to be an actress but her mother wanted her to have a ‘proper’ job so she became a hairdresser. Eight years later, at the age of twenty-four, she gave up a successful hairdressing salon and wig-hire business for a place at Drama College and a career as an actress.

In 2010, after living in London for thirty-six years, she moved back to Lutterworth, swapping two window boxes and a mortgage for a garden and the freedom to write. She is currently writing her eighth novel, as well as a collection of short stories, articles, poems, photographs and character breakdowns, written when she was acting. She is a member of the RNA, Society of Authors and Equity.

You can find Madalyn Morgan on the following links.

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

Blog 

You can purchase Madalyn Morgan’s books on Amazon in all formats on the following links.

Foxden Acres    Applause    China Blue

The 9:45 To Bletchley    Foxden Hotel

Chasing Ghosts    There Is No Going Home

 

 

 

 

Challenge – Story in LESS than 100 words

Thank you to Phil Clinker for responding to the challenge to write a story in LESS than 100 words. His response comes in the form of A Game of Cluedo which you can read below.

A Game of Cluedo

Gerald is Colonel Mustard. Abigail is Miss Scarlett. Uncle Barry is the Reverend Green. Auntie Jenny is Mrs White. Grandad is Professor Plum. I am Mrs Peacock. And my cheating husband is Doctor Black, and he’s lying in the Hall with the Rope round his neck.
Game over.

48 words

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Oh dear, Mrs Peacock!

What a great story from Phil Clinker. Do you reckon you could write a story in LESS than one hundred words? See full guidelines and online submission form HERE.