Join us at Morgen’s Free Monday Creative Writing Q&A Mentorship live chat

Hello everyone. If you’d like help with your writing, or just love talking about anything writing related, and you’re on Facebook, you’re welcome to join 100+ (and growing) of us at my free weekly live Q&A chat. It’s where members can post their questions and we all pitch in with our answers. We do this throughout the week but I’m (almost) guaranteed to be there from 7pm to 9pm (UK time) – in two hours – every Monday so much quicker replies.

To join us click here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/morgensmondaymentorship, answer the three question (What do you write? / What do you need most help with (if known)? / How can you contribute to the group?) then wait for me to approve you. See you there!

I also run a free anonymous (only I know who’s who) email critique swap for flash fiction, short stories or novel extracts – see Morgen’s (Free) Email Critique Group. There are also links on that page to non-fiction, script and poetry swaps.

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Join us at Morgen’s Free Monday Creative Writing Q&A Mentorship live chat

Hello everyone. If you’d like help with your writing, or just love talking about anything writing related, and you’re on Facebook, you’re welcome to join 100+ (and growing) of us at my free weekly live Q&A chat. It’s where members can post their questions and we all pitch in with our answers. We do this throughout the week but I’m (almost) guaranteed to be there from 7pm to 9pm (UK time) – in two hours – every Monday so much quicker replies.

To join us click here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/morgensmondaymentorship, answer the three question (What do you write? / What do you need most help with (if known)? / How can you contribute to the group?) then wait for me to approve you. See you there!

I also run a free anonymous (only I know who’s who) email critique swap for flash fiction, short stories or novel extracts – see Morgen’s (Free) Email Critique Group. There are also links on that page to non-fiction, script and poetry swaps.

Another NaNo win

I mentioned back on November 18th that I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo this month with the follow up to The Serial Dater’s Shopping List, The Serial Dieter’s Shopping List, with Donna and the helm this time. It’s lovely being back with her, Izzy, William and Duncan.

Set a year later, we start at Northampton but Donna’s then seconded to the sister paper at Hemel Hempstead and stays with her mum in Tring (both Hertfordshire) so we meet a new set of characters dipping back to Northampton at the weekends.

I’ve cracked the NaNoWriMo 50,000 minimum with 52,795, although the widget counter is a tad more generous at 53,088, not sure why but I’m not complaining.

If you’d like to read my writing and be willing to give me feedback on it – being as brutal as you like but constructively please(!), do take a look at my shout out for …Beta Readers.

Writing Competitions and you… success? near miss? the judge? Let me know!

Hello everyone. I’m Writers’ Forum magazine’s Competitive Edge columnist and I’d love to know whether you have entered any writing competitions (of any type), and have been successful, a runner-up perhaps, or been unsuccessful but have learned from the experience, have advice for other entrants, or maybe you’re a competition judge and have some tips on entering (and funny stories to tell!).

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Guest post: A Change of Setting by Adrian Magson

Today’s guest blog post, on the topic of locations, welcomes back Adrian Magson, this time as part of his blog tour celebrating the release of his latest novel Rocco and the Nightingale. My review of Adrian’s novel will appear here (on my blog) tomorrow and you can read Adrian’s previous post on planning here.

A Change of Setting

After writing a series of five contemporary crime novels set in London, and the first of a spy thriller series, I thought the idea for the Inspector Lucas Rocco crime series, based in Picardie, France, in the 1960s, had come out of left field. But it was probably in there all the time – it simply had to find a way out.

Most of my writing begins as a punt, often based on little more than a nugget; it might work, it might not. Planning a crime series in rural northern France was certainly a punt, although the setting wasn’t. I went to school there, aged ten, in a tiny village that is the basis for Rocco’s home base of Poissons-les-Marais (I changed the real name because it doesn’t sound very French to English ears), so I know the area. I couldn’t speak French and nobody locally spoke English, which was a bit of a challenge, albeit useful for performing a quick learning curve!

I had a good reason for taking an experienced investigator out of Paris and dumping him in a rural setting, because I didn’t want to find myself simply exchanging London city streets for Paris. In any case, France was expanding its policing initiatives at the time, so the idea fitted quite well.

Part of my thinking for Rocco was being aware of the rising popularity in the UK of European-based crime fiction, rather than UK or US-based, and I wanted to tap into that market if I could.

Placing it in the sixties was a challenge technologically (how many times did I want Lucas reaching for his mobile or tapping into the internet!), but it made the research and fact-checking fascinating because France, like the UK, was going through very interesting changes at the time, and I wanted to use a backdrop of historic events of the time on which to hang the story.

In the case of the first in the series – Death on the Marais – that backdrop lay in echoes of France’s Indochina war, in which Rocco and his boss, Commissaire Massin had both served, and which brings to the books an atmosphere of tension between the two men, and similarly the connections between a WW2 resistance fighter and a now highly-placed industrial figure with secrets to hide. In Rocco and the Nightingale, the fifth and latest book, it was the re-emergence of a gangster figure from Algeria’s independence and the rise of a criminal empire based in Paris that formed the backbone, as well as being a revisit of an earlier Rocco title.

Although the area and people are based on personal knowledge, Rocco came fully formed. He’s tall, dark and wears a long coat out of habit, likes English brogues and drives a Citroen Traction Ariane. All this makes him stand out among the locals, where horses are still used for farming and he doesn’t (yet) have running water, but a garden pump that needs priming in cold weather. Part of his struggle from book one is coming to grips with being out ‘among the cowpats’, as a former colleague puts it, and his interaction with the local villagers and villains.

But that was also part of the pleasure in the writing. If it isn’t fun, it’s not worth doing.

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I love it when settings are so vivid and absolutely, writing should be fun. If it isn’t, the reader will know.

Thank you, Adrian.

Adrian is a freelance writer and reviewer, the author of twenty-two crime and spy thrillers, a writer’s help book (at the back of which I get a credit!), a young adult ghost novel and two collections of short fiction.

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If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. Guidelines on guest-blogs. There are other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.