This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Sarah Morgan started her writing career by penning 35 Medical Romances for Mills & Boon. These days, she writes hot, happy, contemporary romances and is here now to tell us about her new series based at Castaway Cottage on Puffin Island.
Tell us about First Time in Forever.
It’s the first book in my new Puffin Island series. Emily Donovan has led a safe, small, carefully protected life and then a freak accident leaves her guardian to her six-year-old niece, Lizzy. Determined to protect her, she takes the child and her secrets to the one place that holds good memories, Castaway Cottage on beautiful Puffin Island.
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Yacht Club owner Ryan Cooper has promised Emily’s best friend Brittany, owner of the cottage, that he will watch over the new arrivals. After spending his youth raising his siblings, Ryan is determined to stay away from responsibility and commitment, but soon he wants access to more than Emily’s secrets. What begins as an obligatory favour turns into a first-time-in-forever connection, but Emily isn’t opening her heart easily.
It’s a story of friendship, love and most of all courage.
Where do you find inspiration for your books?
Inspiration is everywhere. It can come from a conversation overheard, a snippet on the radio, a movie, a walk in the woods. I think writers see possibilities in what most people would consider to be ordinary circumstances. We’re constantly asking the ‘what if’ question. For First Time in Forever my question was ‘what if a woman who never wanted children suddenly found herself guardian to a six year old child.’ The whole story developed from that question.
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
I start early in the morning and write until I reach my daily word count. If I can, I try and exceed it because I like to be ahead. Life has a habit of getting in the way (as all writers know!), so being a little ahead of my own schedule stops me from panicking. I’m lucky enough to have an office in my garden (it was featured here if you’d like to take a look) and I have no internet connection so it’s easy to concentrate.At lunchtime I spend time catching up on emails and social media. I have an active Facebook page and I love talking to readers. I write again in the afternoon, but I might be speaking to my agent, who is in the US, and also my editor. Writing is never just about writing. I might also be checking proofs, commenting on cover concepts, dealing with promotion. When you’re a writer you’re running a small business and although writing the next book is the most important part of my day, it’s not the only part.
When you are writing, do you use any famous people or people you know as inspiration?
I think writers are inspired by the experiences and emotions of all people – whether they know them well or not. But I would never want friends of mine to be worried that they’d end up in a book! Famous people can be particularly helpful when it comes to imagining what characters look like. In First Time in Forever I cast Emily Blunt as my heroine Emily and Chris Pine as Ryan.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
I find it really hard to pick one book, because reading depends on the mood and I have many favourites. I do love The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen. Her prose is beautiful and the story has romance, friendship, warm wonderful characters and a touch of mystery.
What female writer has inspired you?
Few romance writers could fail to be inspired by Nora Roberts. She is talented, prolific, successful, hard working and readers across the globe love her books. I’m inspired both by her talent and her incredible work ethic.
I’d recommend The Peach Keeper, by Sarah Addison Allen, The Witness, by Nora Roberts (one of my favourites) and Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I’m required to produce an outline for my publisher, so in theory I do begin each book with a plan, but in reality I abandon it fairly quickly and write by the seat of my pants. I know the characters and the conflict, but the detail evolves as I write. I do find it helps to think hard about the ending right at the beginning of the process. If you know where your characters are going to end up and how they will change over the story, it forces you to think hard about what decisions they might make, and lessons they might learn, to affect that change.
I write on a laptop but I scribble on notepads too (I have a serious, incurable notebook addiction) and I use a lot of sticky notes. I don’t throw anything away until the book is finished.
I write as many drafts as the book needs. Some books are easier and smoother than others. I’m lucky to have a brilliant editor. She gives me feedback on early drafts and we discuss the direction the book is taking, so that by the time I complete the manuscript, it’s (hopefully!) pretty close to the final version. Then I polish. And polish. I’m a perfectionist, so letting the book go is always difficult. She has to wrench it out of my hands!
What was your journey to being a published author?
I always wanted to be a writer but I never expected to be lucky enough to make it a career. For years it was a hobby. I was working as a nurse and read a book from Mills and Boon’s Medical Romance line and thought ‘I could write that’. So I did and I enjoyed every moment. It was my relaxation after a long, stressful day. I submitted the book, had positive feedback and kept trying. They accepted my third attempt. I wrote 35 Medical Romances before writing for their Modern Romance line and then finally moving to single titles. My first full length book, Sleigh Bells in the Snow, was published in 2013. Writing for a living is a dream come true for me and seeing my books on the shelves in the US and the UK is very exciting.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That it’s an easy job. It’s a brilliant job, my dream job, but I work very, very hard.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Write every day
Stay off the internet
When you’re stuck, keep going
Make your characters as human and real as possible
Join a writing organization such as Romance Novelist’s Association
Put your work aside and don’t be afraid to revise. Revisions are part of writing.
Read it aloud for rhythm
Find at least one good writing friend.
Every time you’re knocked down, get up again.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just finished the third book in my Puffin Island series (Christmas Ever After, out October 2015!) and I’m planning a new series. At the moment the details of that are a secret, but I’m excited!