Vera Morris - The Anglian Detective Agency Series.
The Ship of Death – published October 2020 Headline
The Loophole – published 2019
The Temptation –published 2018
Some Particular Evil – published 2016
I thought I'd have a rest from writing on my recent holiday. However, ferry from Poole to Guernsey cancelled resulting in a very slow trip from Portsmouth to Guernsey, via Jersey. Took from 6.00 am to 10.30 pm before we reached the hotel. Bought notepad and wrote a Freda Longshanks short story and sketched out a possible plot for crime novel five!
Here's Victor Hugo in Candie Park, St Peter Port, striding out, deep in thought, possibly plotting Les Miserables!
Nearly at the end of the first draft of fourth novel in The Anglian Detective Agency Series. Just got Laurel out of another tight spot!
I always have a strange reluctance to finish the first draft – I suppose I don't want to say goodbye to my characters. Although I'll soon be back with them for the fifth novel! I wonder what the cover will be like for The Ship of Death?? Another brooding seascape. I hope.
On the train back from Yorkshire, I wrote another episode in the life of Freda Longshanks. Freda is a white witch, living in the village of Ham-on-the-Trucklebrook. Where she came from I'm not sure, but her adventures amuse the Tuesday writing group I belong to, and also my friend, Margaret. Pure self indulgence!
Writing The Ship of Death has slowed down as I've tried o do some local publicity for The Loophole, to be published next week. I had a great time visiting shops in Caversham and asking if they would put up a poster for me. Visited the butcher the next day and there was the poster, given pride of place at the front of the counter. Thank you Jennings Butchers! What a friendly lot of shop keepers.
The Ship of Death, the fourth book in The Anglian Detective Agency Series is slowly emerging. the plot is thickening, the first murder has happened, but there seems to be no reason as to why, or who. 35k, lots more twists and turns!
The Loophole has been sent to my editor and now I'm starting to think about the next book in the Anglian Detective Agency series. Sketched out the plot and characters while visiting my friend, Zara. I'm collecting names and trying to match them up to the new characters. Then I need to develop each character – can't do that until they have a name!
This is Zara; she's recovering from an operation.
I've written a piece of flash fiction – 500 words about a murder in a car wash. My friend Margaret was disturbed as I took notes on timings as her car was washed and dried. I haven't seen her since!
I've finished the play and sent it in for judging! I won't hold my breath!
I'm trying to complete a five minute play for Reading Writers Spring Competition. It's a Restoration comedy with serious undertones; involves a split stage with two men in a gig with a horse and a hound on one side, two women sitting on a sofa on the other, and an artist moving from side to side. In five minutes! Crazy!
I've finished editing the first draft of the Loophole, now I need to complete it.
Reading Writers next competition is to write a five minute play. I have an idea, it involves a split stage, a horse and a dog and it's set in about 1850!
Only a few pages more to edit. I'm excited reading it – hope I can remember the ending! Just joking!
I've nearly completed editing the 80.000 words I've written of The Loophole, the third in the Anglian Murder Mysteries. then I've got to complete the first draft!
Late September. We didn't get to Suffolk, and I haven't completed the first draft of The Loophole yet. I wrote a short story for the Autumn Competition, Reading Writers. The prompt word was Food. I have a feeling my story will not wet the appetite.
September. I need another visit to Orford to walk from the village to the river by Doctor's Drift, and to pay one more visit to Orford Ness. That's my excuse. Land of oysters, lobsters and big skies!
August Getting to the meat of the crime novel. Near the end of first draft. Exciting denouement! Second draft will need a lot of work as I've just raced ahead with the story.
August. I've written 60,000 words of third crime novel - working title - The Loophole, three holidays have slowed me down; Suffolk, the Isles of Scilly and last week, Derbyshire. Poor me!
April. Written about 20,000 words of third crime novel, but had to put it aside to start edits of second novel, the Temptation. Looking forward to getting back to it in about two weeks - I hope!
At Reading Writers on Wednesday, 8/03/2017, Julie Cohen, gave a talk on the Art of the Rewrite.
She's a best-selling novelist and we're lucky to have her as a member. It was fascinating to hear how she revises her first draft, which she says is usually awful. Lots of good advice on how to tackle this, including cutting it into chunks, re-arranging it and the use of Post-its! Mind boggling!
Enjoyed starting third crime novel in the series: Praying for Death. I'm having fun giving new characters different cars to match their personalities. Who's been given a Jaguar 42OG, Warwick grey with red leather seats?
Tuesday Morning Writing Group
This is my haiku homework on snowdrops
Mad snowdrops pushing
Heads into the gelid air
Kicking winter out.
January 2017. Really interesting discussion about showing and telling. Everyone read examples of from their favourite authors. I read from Peter James' Dead Simple. A scene where Michael is in a coffin and his friends are burying him, it's a stag night trick on the groom. The point of view jumps from inside the coffin to the men screwing on the lid! Keep to one point of view, in a scene or chapter, you are told. This breaks that rule! Brilliantly!
We meet tomorrow and it will be fascinating to hear what the other members have written in response to our homework. Regardless of where you come from, where do you feel you've come from? This was the challenge for some free writing. I sat at my computer and gave myself 15 minutes. Result? I was born in the the fourteenth century, I lived on the east coast, loved the sea and marshes and was a healing wise woman. Should I consult my doctor?
Below is a picture of the gateway into a ruined abbey near Dunford, Suffolk. This is where my soul lives, on the coast in this mystic area between Dunwich and Aldeburgh. the setting for my crime novel Some Particular Evil. My heart lives in Lancashire, where I was born.
A great day in London
Went to Tate Modern and viewed the London skyline from the viewing platform of new extension. It was a clear, sunny day and the 360o walk was incredible. Worth the journey alone.
Then viewed Georgia O'Keefe exhibition. I knew her flower amd still life paintings, but was blown away by her use of colour, skill and abstract paintings inspired by sensory stimulations.
'I paint because colour is a significant language to me.'
Her paintings reminded me of the importance of the senses and colour in writing. Will try harder!
Lastly went to The National Theatre to see The Threepenny Opera.
This got mainly 3* reviews in national papers. I can't understand why. It was a great production with Rory Kinnear as Captain Macheath, Hadyn Gwynne as Mrs Peacham and a hilarious Sharon Small as a foul-mouthed Jenny Diver. Great singing and ace direction by Rufus Norris 5*s.
Came home with my brain buzzing!
Statue of hound at Chatsworth. Another wonderful place.
Not much writing at the moment!
Trying to prepare for publication of Some Particular Evil on October 18th and launch party at Alto Lounge on 25th October. Looking forward to this, but I'll be glad to get back to what I love best. Writing!
South Chiltern Writing Group
Tuesday morning ia always interesting and useful.
This group (see writing friends) meets once a week to read current work and to receive helpful criticism. It was my turn to host. I read a chapter of the crime novel I'm working on, The Right Temptation. If you can take it, this is a great way to get instant feedback: you sense whether the listeners are gripped or bored; laughter or lack of it lets you know whether the funny bits worked, and small but important details, which you've missed, are picked up. Thanks to the other five!
Why I started writing
It seems every time I read an article by a writer they say they've been writing fairy stories, adventure tales, animal fables or four-act plays on themes of world destruction, as soon as they could pick up a pencil. Any day now I expect to hear some novelist's first work was written in the womb, using their newly grown fingernail to scrawl their story onto the amnion.
Young author addressing a literary festival
My first writing was my name. My mother gave me the name Vera because it was short - she obviously had no faith in my learning abilities. I've accepted my name, even though it was out of date when she gave it to me. Publishers, if you don't like Vera I'm willing to change it. The name Vera is usually attached to very old ladies, such as Auntie Vera in the Giles cartoons; however there is Vera Wang, the designer, and the ITV detective, Vera, ( another favourite crime writer - Ann Cleves) But Vera/ Brenda Blethyn isn't very spry and I do worry when she gives chase to villains.
I loved writing at school and English was one of my favourite subjects along with biology. Science won and I eventually became a zoologist, did research and went into teaching, which I also loved.
I became a head teacher - no, you are not allowed to scream and press the delete button. Come on, give me a break, I wasn't your head teacher was I?
I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to write novels if I hadn't learnt to use a computer. The thought of having to read my scrawl, and make numerous drafts and then pay someone to type it would have put me off. I love the physical action of typing, the ability to easily correct my many mistakes and the facility of capturing immediate thoughts. During the school week it was light relief to write parents' newsletters and get creative with the governors' reports. When I left teaching I decided I'd like to write fiction so I joined a Creative Writing class.
Five novels, three short story books later!
At the Creative Writing class we were set homework each week. One subject was Sacrifice. I started a short story about a mother making a sacrifice for her children. (She earns extra money by sleeping with her employer!). I became engrossed with the characters and each week the story got longer. I'd started a novel. The Metamorphosis of Sharon Loveday sits in a drawer and there it must stay until its rewritten.
I was in the carpet department of John Lewis when I saw a tall, elegant woman in deep conversation with a senior member of staff; she was enthusing over Persian carpets. This was the stimulus for two novels about two sisters. The elder sister, Doro falls in love with an .Iranian carpet merchant, Seyeed. This is The Deceivers, set before and during theWW2. The sequel is One Moon, Two Waters.
The novel ends by the Caspian Sea. Mmmmmmm.
My fourth novel was The Ruby Tiger. It's an historical novel of love, ambitions and pride, set against a background of impending WW2. The idea for the novel came from the estate I live in. It was built a few years before the beginning of WW2 as a cottage homestead for out of work miners from the north-east and Wales. It was a story I wanted to tell.
This lepidopteran has a connection to The Ruby Tiger. I hope you'll find out what the connection is one day.
I love writing short stories, but if you're writing a novel it's hard to come out of that world and enter another. Here's a story I wrote for the Virgin Sardine, the third book of short stories I wrote with my four writing friends.