Interview with Morgen Bailey

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A while back, the lovely Morgen Bailey was kind enough to interview me for her rather fabulous writing blog which is… well… impressive! I decided to find out more about the mysterious lady who spells her name with an ‘e’, not an ‘a’.

Tell us a little about Morgen Bailey. Just start when you were born
and finish up right when I started asking you questions. Feel free to give us the 
abbreviated version.

Please don’t encourage me! I can talk for England… Scotland… Ireland…

Abbreviated version. OK. Born in Amersham, Buckinghamshire in August 1967. Did the usual school (which I left at 16 to be a secretary because I didn’t know what else I wanted to do), going out with friends, passed my driving test when I was 20. Left home four years later, moving 60 miles north (in theory with work but didn’t happen like that, they ended up moving further south which I couldn’t afford so came up here anyway). I went to computing, language then creative writing evening classes to meet people and light bulb moment happened (eight and a half years ago) after I completed the first homework, a short story. I knew then that I wanted to be a writer. It took me another five years to start doing anything about it and I finally left the safety of a ‘proper job’ in March 2012. Although I’m now living the pauper’s life (renting out two bedrooms to Monday-Friday lodgers), I don’t regret it for a second… especially as I offer an editing and critique service and blog design service, and they’ve both taken off nicely. 🙂

Half a dozen online writing groups, at least two websites, your podcast, your teaching work …how on earth do you find time to actually write?!!

(laughs) I write a short story (usually flash fiction) every day for my blog’s 5pm fiction slot, so knowing I ‘have’ to do that (although I don’t suppose anyone sits waiting for it) means I write every day. I’ve also been doing at least a novel a year (for NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo) and other short stories for Story A Day May, which all goes to creating plenty of content for eBooks (all the shorts are up, one novel’s done, six to go). Oh, and at last count, I have twelve personal websites (listed on http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/blogs).

You seem to have a flair for all-things online Morgen. Is that something that comes naturally? And how important do you think that skill is for the modern day author?

Yes, hands up. I’m a nerd. 🙂 I grew up with an older (2 years) brother who was my dad’s Computer Manager back in the days of Spectrums and BBC monsters (his shops sold photographic and computer equipment) so it was inevitable, as was getting into the arts; my brother’s a web designer / IT Project Manager, father was a photographer, my uncle still is, my aunt and mother are artists.

Every author these days needs to do their own marketing, even if they have a publisher behind them. Of all the authors I’ve interviewed (over 800), only one has said she doesn’t do her own marketing, yet she’s active on Twitter and Facebook. It’s part of the reason why I set up ‘I Can Build Your Writing Blog’ and being a writer myself, I can help develop them from a writer’s (and reader’s) point of view.

Says here you’ve got half a dozen, mostly-crime, novels in the pipeline – and yet your debut novel (‘ The Serial Dater’s Shopping List’) is most definitely contemporary women’s fiction. Why the sudden change of genre?

TSDSL was actually the third novel I wrote, and the longest (a 117,540-word first draft for NaNoWriMo 2009… all in 28 days!). It then took me a few months, on and off, to edit it before sending it to two first readers. Apparently there are still mistakes we didn’t pick up on so next on the jobs list is to re-edit it.

The first novel (NaNoWriMo 2008) was a semi-crime lad lit, the second (written January to October 2009) was a crime / mystery (which has been edited / first read so just needs me to re-edit and eBook). The fourth was another lad lit, the everything since has been crime (getting darker as I go along). So I guess you could say I settled into crime rather than switched to it. I’ve done a few agent pitches (with the crime / mystery and TSDSL) and one of the agents, at the 2011 Winchester Writers’ Conference, a top (and scary, apparently… although she was nice to me because she knew the crime novelist whose writing class I took over) agent looked at me and said, “You’re a crime writer, you need to write crime.” As it turns out, I do.

Oh, and she rejected both the novels, as did the other dozen agents I’d approached at conferences or via email, which lead to me going the self-published route – via two publishing contracts for TSDSL, both of which I turned down following legal advice… although my heart has sunk when I’d read them so that was a strong hint.

What’s the general gist of the story – you have thirty seconds – Go!

OK, the three-second version is ‘31 men in 31 days – what could possibly go wrong?’ but seeing as I have thirty seconds… 🙂

Isobel MacFarlane is a recently-turned-40 journalist who usually writes a technology column for a newspaper based in Northampton, England, but her somewhat-intimidating boss, William, has set her the task of meeting 31 men, via a local internet dating site, all within a month. Having an active, though fruitless, social life with her friend and ‘Health & Beauty’ colleague Donna, she knows what she wants in a man, so creates a shopping list of dos and don’ts, and starts ticking them off as she meets Mr Could Be Right Except For, Mr Not Bad, Mr Oh My Goodness and Mr Oh So Very Wrong. Follow the ups (there are a few) and downs (there are many) of the dating process and intertwined with her experiences, get to know her colleagues and family, including her niece Lola who, apart from being an amazing storyteller, can eat ambidextrously whilst wearing a Princess glove puppet on her right hand, and Baby, William’s none-too-healthy African Grey parrot.

Oops… sorry, think I went over my time there (nothing new).

A little birdie told me that The Serial Dater’s Shopping List is based on personal experience? That true? Did you really go on thirty-one dates in thirty one days? Was it research or were you, you know, on the prowl?

Ha! I didn’t, although I have been on a few blinds dates in the past and the speed-dating middle chapter is pretty true to life (especially the builder there looking for business!). Let’s just say that it’s a combination of real life and a vivid imagination. No one’s fallen asleep on me yet, although I’m single again so there’s always a first time.

Anything else you’d like to tell me (and my readers)

I’m running eight writing-related / I.T. courses next year at four locations in Northampton, England from January 2014. The details are on http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/courses/northampton-writing-courses but they are: eBooking, blogging, social networking, planning & writing a novel, short stories, creative writing – beginners, c/w – intermediate, and ideas & inspiration. I do plan to run most of these as online writing courses for those who aren’t UK-based, and the details will be on my blog. As you can probably tell, I love talking about writing and so getting paid to ‘work’ (teach my favourite topic) is a bonus, and I can’t wait!

Thank you, Peter.

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Would the real Peter Jones please step forward

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Back when my agent was shopping How To Do Everything And Be Happy around the UK publishers, there was some talk about whether or not I should change my name to avoid confusion with the other Peter Jones who, whilst equally tall, is often described as being more dragon like, and has a tendency to arrive at venues in a helicopter.

Sharing a name with a celebrity has advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand people rarely forget me. I’m Peter Jones. Like the dragon. Like the shop. Memorability is a useful thing when you’re an author. On the other hand, journalists have this annoying habit of getting VERY excited about the possibility of an interview… and then lose interest just as quickly when they realise I’m not a billionaire, or a regular face on prime time television.

It’s a little like I offered you a five quid, and you thought I said five-hundred quid. When you realise I meant a five pound note you might feel ever so slightly let down. You might politely tell me to keep my cash. I want to say, “it is still cash you know!” but neither you and I are the actual people in this scenario, and nobody’s talking about cash.

Even amongst readers there’s some confusion. I occasionally get emails along the lines of “so you’re not the real Peter Jones then?” (am I somehow not real). And at a book signing back in January one lady came up to me, asked for the book to be made out to her son – and then promptly told me that he was doing my business course at college (I just nodded and smiled). Then a couple of weeks back, when I popped along to Author Della Galton’s latest book launch, one of her readers (who was clutching a copy of How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim) exclaimed “Wow! You’ve written a book with Peter Jones! Will he be here today?” When Della pointed out that I was standing right behind her there was that awkward moment of confusion that I’m beginning to expect when I’m introduced to people.

It occurred to me that a little re-branding might be in order. Time to tell the world that there’s another flavour of Peter Jones available, and like any branding exercise, give people some sense as to what I’m about. With this in mind I had some new author photos done.

Reaction has been mixed. Most have reacted very positively. Others… less so. I feel that I’ve stuck my head above the parapet somewhat. But then I suppose that was the point.

I’d be interested to know what you think (though try to keep in mind that I’m a human being, with actual feelings, armed with a delete button…), and even more interested if you’ve got a similar experience of your own to share. Use the comments box below.


You can see more of the pictures from the shoot on my facebook profile

Peter Jones talks to Michelle Ward of Phoenix FM about… everything!

Several weeks back now, I was proud to be invited back by Michelle Ward of Phoenix98 FM to talk about my latest book, How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim.

However, Michelle being Michelle we actually ended up talking about how I became an author, as well as my first book, How To Do Everything and Be Happy, and my next book How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting!

More than that, along the way Michelle confessed that one of my ‘author business cards’  – which has my official author picture on the reverse – has been sitting by the side of her bed for some weeks! And as if that wasn’t enough to cope with, someone’s phone (not mine guvnor – I swear) went off whilst we were on air!

Click here if you’re reading this within an email, or you’d prefer to hear the interview via YouTube


How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim is available, now, in three formats.

Things That Matter : Guest Post by Della Galton

ice-drop-shadowAuthor Della Galton explains why she’s drawn to write about controversial subjects, and shares the motivation behind her latest novel ‘Ice and a Slice’

I’ve often wondered how we choose what we write. Do we choose to write short stories or novels because we love them, or do we just drift into the form? And what about the subject matter? Why do we choose that?

The first short story I ever had published was called Second Chance, and it was published in a teenage confession magazine called Loving (I wish that magazine was still around, it was excellent).

Second Chance was set in a doctor’s surgery, and it was all about a teenager who was planning to have a termination – blimey, I don’t think I’d sell that story now – it’s quite a controversial issue, even today. But then I’ve always liked writing about controversial issues. I don’t have a copy of Second Chance any more but I can remember the last line, which went something like this:

Throughout her life she would give her baby many second chances, but none of them would be as important as the one she was giving him now…

The first novel I ever wrote was called Prisoners. It was about a woman who works in a pet shop and falls in love with someone she shouldn’t (her married boss). There are a few animal characters and they have a few nights out (the people, not the animals) and in the end the couple get it together.

If this sounds like an immense muddle, then that’s because it was. I’d had four or five short stories published when I wrote Prisoners. I thought writing a novel was simply a matter of writing 70,000 words.

Moving swiftly on, my first published novel, Passing Shadows, was about a woman who works in an animal sanctuary and falls in love with someone she shouldn’t (the father of her best friend’s child.) There are a few animal characters and they have a few nights out (the people, not the animals) and in the end the couple get it together.

Sounds familiar doesn’t it? So why did this novel work and Prisoners not work? Well, partly because I knew a bit more about what I was doing. I was passionate about the main characters, Maggie and Finn. Also, this novel had some strong themes, friendship and betrayal being two of them.

Ice and a SliceMy latest novel, Ice and a Slice, also has some strong themes. It’s about friendship, beating the odds, and love.

It’s also about alcoholism, which is a theme I’ve explored in short stories too, but I wanted to take it further and the only way to do this was to write a novel.

The main character in Ice and a Slice, is called SJ, and she drinks too much – although she would argue until she was blue in the face about that! And if you don’t believe me, then do check out her Facebook page here or her Twitter account here, where she is surprisingly active!

So, why did I write about alcoholism? Well, as I said earlier I’m big on issues. I like writing about things that matter, and alcoholism is a subject very close to my heart. Many of my family suffer from it. Some of them are in recovery and some of them are not. And some have died needless premature deaths.

An alcoholic is not someone, as I once thought, who drinks meths on a park bench. Alcoholism is not a moral issue for weak minded people – it’s a disease that can affect anyone – it can strike doctors, lawyers, teachers, plumbers, vicars, secretaries, taxi drivers, anyone. It’s a disease of our time.

So, yes I feel passionate about alcoholism and that’s why I wrote Ice and a Slice. SJ – or Sarah-Jane Crosse to give her full name – is deeply flawed, but I love her to bits. I think she’s probably the most three dimensional character I’ve ever created. Hence, she has her own social media pages. Do check them out.

You’ll have more luck getting a sensible answer from her when she’s sober – so mornings are good!

And if you like what you see, do take a look at Ice and a Slice too – you can read a free sample or buy it for less than a glass of Chardonnay 🙂

Thanks for reading.

Della Galton x


Della Galton is a freelance writer and tutor. She is best known for her short stories, and sells in the region of 80 short stories a year to magazines both in the UK and abroad. She is a popular speaker at writing conventions around the UK and is also the agony aunt for Writers’ Forum. Her third full length novel Ice and a Slice’ is currently available for all kindle enabled smart phones and e-readers from amazon (.co.uk | .com) and will be available in paperback shortly.

To find out more about Della Galton visit her website, LIKE her facebook page or follow her on Twitter.

A chat with Michelle Ward & Sylvia Kent of Phoenix 98 FM

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A few days ago I met up with the very fabulous Michelle Ward, singer and presenter on Phoenix FM, as well as writer, journalist and fellow author Sylvia Kent. We talked in general about books, book titles, as well as How To Do Everything and Be Happy, How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim, and How To Start Dating and Stop Waiting.  The conversation span off into dating disaster stories where, perhaps fortunately, we eventually ran out of time.

To listen to the interview click the play button in the box below, or (if you’re reading this in an email) click here to play clip on YouTube.

Social Meeja

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I’ve become a big fan of social media these past few months. Yes it’s very distracting. Yes it’ll eat up every single spare moment you have (if you let it). But as someone who works from home, it’s also become a great way of keeping in touch with people. Where as once I had ‘colleagues’ now I have facebook friends, and twitter pals.

I mention this merely because every now and then I get a message from someone asking me (in the nicest possible way) to blog more – and whilst I enjoy blogging, if you’re really chomping at the bit for some daily Jones-flavoured interaction, you’ll find plenty over at a social media site of your choosing. Here’s a quick round-up of where you can find me and my daily musings.

Facebook.

You can find me personally at www.facebook.com/peterjonesauthor – where I chuck out the occasional pearl of wisdom (or more likely a nugget of nonsense) about this writing life. I usually only ‘friend’ people I’ve actually met, but anyone can subscribe to my public updates or send me a message.

Alternatively, if you want to read and discuss ideas raised in How To Do Everything and Be Happy, you’ll find the book’s facebook page at www.facebook.com/howtodoeverythingandbehappy. Six hundred and something hard core readers such as yourself hang out there. Feel free to post your thoughts or comments on the page, as well as pictures of Book Shops or your Trophy Board.

Twitter

It’s taken me a while to become one with the whole twitterati. In many ways I still feel like someone who moved into a village ten years ago and is waiting to be accepted by the community at large. But the upside of this is that I’ll talk to virtually anyone who so much as glances in my direction. Don’t be shy. Feel free to tweet at me as much as you like.

I’m @peterjonesauth, whereas the book is @doitallbehappy. Follow either or both.

Instagram (and other sites)

I’m currently experimenting with Instagram. It’s fun.  I’m not sure you’ll ever see anything of any ground breaking significance (and it’s probably worth mentioning that every photo I post also appears on facebook and twitter), but if enjoy the occasional picture of hats and lollypops it could be right up your street. http://instagram.com/peterjonesauthor

You’ll also find me on pinterest, though I’m struggling to see the point (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are pretty pointless too, but in a much better way). Feel free to look me up if you really want to. I’m peterjonesauthor (I think).