Sunday, 16 February 2014

Blog Tour: My Writing Process

Blog Tour: My Writing Process

Thank you Elizabeth Ducie for asking me to follow you in answering four questions on Cathie Hartigan's fabulous blog tour about my writing process.  Elizabeth's answers were fascinating.  If you'd like to read them, you can find them HERE  

Here are my questions.

What am I working on?

Although I present radio and write articles, I have spent the last month developing and editing my second novel, Applause, which I shall publish on March 25.

                                                             Mock-up of the book cover.

Applause is the story of Margaret Dudley.  It's the second in a quartet about the lives of four very different sisters during World War II.  Margaret, the second sister, moves from Leicestershire to live in London with her husband who works for the MoD.  Fiercely ambitious she works her way from being an usherette in a West End theatre to the Talk Of London. To achieve her childhood dream of becoming an actress, singer and dancer, she learns the show's songs and dances and when a tragic opportunity arises, takes her first step to success and fame. 

As an Indie author I have to work hard on publicity.  The first thing I do in the morning, after flicking on the kettle, is turn on the laptop.  While it's boiling - the kettle that is, not the laptop,  I check my emails.  With my first cup of tea I look through Twitter and while I eat my breakfast I check Facebook.  The novel I'm promoting is my first, Foxden Acres. It's about Bess, the oldest of the Dudley sisters.  Although it takes us to London and Dunkirk, the main story is set on a country estate in Leicestershire with characterful land girls and recuperating servicemen in World War Two. 

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

That’s a difficult one to answer. I'm not sure it does differ.  My process of creating characters might differ because I was an actress for 35 years. (I'm still am member of Equity). I get the same buzz finding the truth in the characters I write about as I did in the characters I played on the stage or television. For me the two processes are the same. Characters have to be real.  I need to know them and find the truth in them; make them believable. Characters in a play aren't born the second the curtain goes up, any more than the characters in book are born on the first line in a chapter one.  I write my characters a biography, give them a history, all of which may not come out in back story. They've had a life right up until the moment they step onto the page. When the curtain rises, or the book opens, the characters have lived for twenty, thirty, or however many years.  It should never be the first minute of their life.
Also about genre: My first four novels are set during and just after the Second World War, so I guess they are Historical, and part of a Saga.  Having said that, they are all different in the respect that Foxden Acres is a about the strength of a woman and how they cope and move on after loss. Applause is about ambition and what lengths a woman will go to to achieve it.  China Blue is a real love story set in the worst possible conditions, and Bletchley Secret is about secrecy and crime.  So, genre is an odd thing, don't you think?

Why do I write what I do?

They tell you to write about what you know. So, if I was to tell you that the first novel I plotted and outlined was a contemporary story about an actress of forty and an actor of thirty, you might put two and two together and make a racy five. Forty-Two Into Twenty-Eight Won't Go was going to be the book I couldn't publish while my mother was alive.  Reading it today it's more, Jack and Jill than Fifty Shades.    
     The second book was a biography about my mother.  I was fascinated by how much women had grown, come into their own, between and during the wars - and with mum being a young woman in World War II she told me all about her life at that time.  She'd talk for hours about her friends, her job degreasing magnetos, and how after a day in the factory they'd all bicycle off to a dance in one of the nearby villages.  I sent her biography to a literary place and they said it was strong and interesting.  However, because my mother was unknown, and so was I, I should turn it into a fiction.  
     At the same time my mother said she’d like to give back a brass aeroplane to the young Polish pilot who had made it for her in 1940. Unfortunately, he had died, but I found his son. He was delighted to have the plane because it was a Wellington Bomber, which his father had flown in the RAF. It was this, as well as stories she told me about her siblings and the groom’s cottage she lived in on a country estate that gave me the idea to write four different stories, about four different sisters.  So that's why my first four books (two written and two plotted) are set in the Second World War.  

How does my writing process go?

I'm a strong believer in plotting.  I'm not sure how many writers have the plot of the next book wake them up in the night before they've finished writing the last, but it happened to me.  

Usually the ideas knock about in my head for a while.  I'm nearing the end of one project when the next tries to get in.  For instance, I was line-editing Applause last week for twelve hours a day.  Stupid I know.  Sitting for that long is so bad for your legs, and after working that intensely it's impossible to wind down when you get to bed.  However, two nights running I was kept awake by the plot of China Blue, the third book in the saga.  I was so tired the first night it happened that I tried to ignore it.  I tossed and turned and didn't get up. The second night I put my glasses on, took my notebook and pen from he side of my bed, switched on my small torch and stuck it between my teeth. Can't be doing with a light on at three o'clock in the morning. After writing down what was in my head I still couldn't get to sleep because I was too excited about it.  
     I plotted Foxden Acres and Applause.  However, both changed as their stories developed. The characters changed as well, as you'd expect them to - I'd have been disappointed if they hadn't.  So story and character can change, but not the timeline if a novel is set in a well-documented time in history like the Second World War.  That is a strong foundation which you have to use and embrace.  And of course, the other three books in the quartet have to be time-lined – and not only with events in WW2, but with each of the other sisters stories. Although each book will stand on its own, and can be read in any order, there are times when the sisters are together.  Especially in the first novel, so I keep a tight day-diary.  One page per event and chapter, times four.  One page for each book, labelled with a different coloured tag.
Day book

The most important thing to me, after I've written the story and edited the first draft on screen, is print it out and read it aloud.  As I'm reading  I mark what needs to be cut in red, and what needs to be developed in blue.  Then I write and rewrite.  Happy with it now?  No.  I  print it out again and I edit it again. The final edit is a line edit.  When I get to the stage where I can't see anything wrong, I send it to a proofreader.  I also have it professionally uploaded to Kindle and CreateSpace.  Then guess what?  I proof read the Kindle version, and also the book version.  l want my book to be as well written as I can make it, and as well produced as any other book.  

So that's my writing process. I'm handing the baton on to my good friend and author, Jill McDonald Constable - aka Gil McDonald and Amos Carr.  Jill is published on both sides of the Atlantic.  You can read about Jill and her novels from February 24, HERE

Foxden Acres on Amazon, Paperback & Kindle:
Foxden Acres website:
Madalyn Morgan - Fiction Blog:
Madalyn Morgan - Non-Fiction Blog:
Madalyn Morgan - Website:

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Applause Book Cover

This is the final Kindle cover for Applause.
Thanks to Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics who took my mock up (bottom of the page) and turned it into a professional 'jacket' for Kindle and for paperback.

The book cover below is the CreateSpace paperback cover
with design, the book blurb and ISBN number on the back

My original design created on Serif