My journey began at the age of four when I started infant school. Then, I connected school with reading and writing. I recall entering the premises with a satchel full of cowboy and war stories belonging to my father and older brother – fond memories of my first essay and to come second at writing competition.
In my early twenties, I relocated from N. Ireland to England. My taste of reading books grew intensely. So did my thirst for adult education. So I enrolled for an Access Course picking English Literature as one of the subjects. At college, I fell in love with the works of James Joyce, Sylvia Plath and William Shakespeare. After passing the Access Course exams, my grades got me into Northampton University, studying English Literature/Language, history and American Studies. The inspiration to write was growing. I would write snippets about anything. However, I would never showcase my scribbles. My confidence with writing remained at an all-time low.
Unfortunately, I left after a year as I was going through divorce proceedings. During that period, my knowledge of reading includes books such as Wild Swans and The Great Gatsby. Although my style of writing was changing, a lack of confidence was still in place.
Social media became a method of meeting people and a range of groups to sign up to without leaving your home. For example, a writing friend suggested I should join the Romantic Novelist Association. They have a sister writing group called the New Writers Scheme. I joined for approx four years. The insight from the scheme certainly opened my eyes to the does and don’ts of writing a novel based on the yearly critique of your manuscript. I knew from the start women’s commercial is the genre for me.
I decided to write a book based on all the houses I have lived in, including the present one at that time – some nice others not so with paranormal happenings. At the time, I was not aware of the difference between vanity and a traditional publisher. Too late! I published my book with the vanity publisher – a massive lesson to learn and never to repeat.
My husband and I decided to relocate back to N. Ireland approx six years ago. I decided to join a local friendship for ladies over the age of fifty. The urge to write was growing stronger once more. The ladies loved to share their stories and before I knew it the inspiration to write a book based on a friendship group set seed in my mind. I would make notes about the fictional characters, a location which I’d based in a fictional village. I believed the storyline could have a romantic element if I made the protagonist a retired widow in her fifties. I brought in a male character that had secrets, but somehow an incident would bring them together? I based the core of the story around the nosiness of the friendship circle. Can my protagonist and her gentleman friend blossom their romance away from the nosy ladies who engage in daily village gossip? I chatted to the ladies in the friendship group as most of them are avid readers of romance. Their verdict was yes! It surprised me people would want to buy my story. After hearing the judgment, new enthusiasm filled me to start writing.
Brilliant idea. The thought of writing a novel boosted my writing energy. A writing friend on social media suggested I sign up for a new creative wring group called Writing. ie. Writers Ink. Soon after I joined the group, I stepped out of my shyness to share pieces of my writing with the members. The group’s mentors were terrific – each of them encouraging the members to express themselves through their samples of writing. The love of using a picture and written prompts grew – the more encouragement from mentors and members of the group. I began to enter writing competitions and submitted poetry too. My mentor encouraged me to focus on writing short stories. I sent one off to a well-known women’s magazine to have the piece accepted within twenty-four hours. They published a further three stories. Also, two separate stories appeared in an iconic magazine published in Ireland. The knowledge and skills I have learnt through the writing group helped me piece together the structure of writing a novel. Otherwise, the challenges I had experienced before would have been history repeating itself.
During my time with the writing group, I put together a women’s commercial novel. The Ballynoon Friendship Circle was tightened up and edited before sending it off to various agents and publishers. The rejections of no arrived. Finally, it attracted an agent’s eye and asked to resubmit but still a no. I was downhearted and still determined to fight for this novel. I completed another few rounds of edits using the agent’s suggestions. Hey, presto! I bagged an EBook publisher based in England. Within a week of sending the synopsis and three chapters, The Ballynoon Friendship Circle, I received the offer of a book deal. It is a year since I had my first short story published and my debut novel comes out on the 21st of May 2021. The Ballynoon Friendship Circle: a cosy and charming story about new beginnings, second chances and learning to lay the ghosts of your past to rest. Not only do the Writing. ie. Writers Ink offers writing advice or mentoring skills on how to create a calm writing environment. They keep you inform with things such as the Irish Writing Centre offering a bursary towards writing courses. I was lucky to have received one and almost completed the course. I will always be grateful to the creative writing group for giving me the support and encouragement never to give up my vision to become an author.
I am currently working on edits for my second standalone women’s commercial fiction, and also writing a Christmas Novel.
(c) Pauline Morgan
About The Ballynoon Friendship Circle:
Is it ever too late for Happiness?
When Edel Marston, a fifty-year-old retired teacher spots her dream cottage in a magazine she makes the life-changing decision to relocate back to Northern Ireland following the death of her husband Ben.
But starting again is never easy, a rocky start with her new neighbours, and the knowledge of her past being a little too close for comfort, leaves Edel questioning whether she has made the right decision.
As Edel tentatively starts to immerse herself into the local village life of Ballynoon , friendships are forged, wires are crossed and new love blossoms, she struggles to protect her new life from the secrets of her past.
Now Edel must decide where her future lie
Will she choose happiness a second time round?
A cosy and charming story of new beginnings , second chances and finally laying the ghosts of your past to rest , perfect for fans of Fern Britton, Kitty Wilson and Nicola May
Order your copy online here.