Monday 12 March 2012

Childhood Reading

'Currently Boo is on a reduced school timetable, which is playing havoc with my writing schedule. It does mean that I get to spend a lot of time with him, which as we’re still getting to know each other is really nice.
One of the best things about hanging around with an inquisitive seven year old is that you get to see the world through their eyes. When you’re answering questions about how the world works, it makes you pause for a moment and think ‘Actually, that is kind of cool...’'

Read the rest at

Monday 27 February 2012

Apparently Self-Employment Means Self-Motivation. Who Knew?

I’ve been writing for years. Years. Partly because I love it, partly because I have a husband who was ok with me pursuing a dream thatmight pay off...

View the rest of this post at my new blog. 

Monday 20 February 2012

Muppet Mania & The Craft of Storytelling

'American readers of my blog are probably wondering why I'm talking about The Muppetsnow. Because the new Muppet movie came out at Thanksgiving in North America, whereas us Europeans on the other had to wait until last week - almost three months later - for its release...'

Read the rest of this post at my new home

Monday 13 February 2012

I've Moved!

My blog has moved!'s more like I've started a new one. You can find me at

I've tried to move Google Friend Connect over, but I'm not sure if I've got it quite yet...

Hope you're all having a great day :)

Friday 27 January 2012

Coming Out of the Writing Closet

The problem with setting up an online business (and self-publishing is a business) is that lots of people are baffled by a process where you make money without actually producing anything tangible, or leaving your own house. Some of my friends who are professional bloggers have this problem, when they're asked what they do a lot of people don't understand how they manage to keep a roof over their head.

Not that I'm keeping a roof over my head just yet - my husband is doing that while I work to keep us in expensive coffee beans.

But he set up his own company providing journalistic and copywriting services, a lot of it on the internet and is also part owner of a financial news website. Despite explaining it numerous times, a lot of our relatives still have no clue what he does. When someone asks for the nth time, it gets irritating. While it's lovely that people care enough to ask about our life, it's a bit like asking someone to repeat something they said that you didn't quite get. You can ask twice, after that it's impolite and you need to pretend you understood, slap on a smile and change the subject.

So, anxious to avoid the whole twenty minute explanation about e-books, self-publishing, and where in the name of God my two history degrees figure into the equation, I decided to avoid the situation in the only way I knew how.

I told no one in real life except my parents and a couple of close friends.

In the writerly blogging community it's easy to forget that not everybody knows that the publishing world is in a state of flux. That self-publishing is now a viable career option. It's difficult to explain without a twenty minute spiel. And honestly?

I'm not comfortable talking about myself and monopolising a conversation for that length of time. When I got engaged, I told a few people and let it all filter out. I've done the same with writing. I know that some people might feel a little bit hurt, but I just find it difficult to talk about myself. Part of being a natural introvert, I suppose.

Anyone else have the same kind of issues?

Wednesday 25 January 2012

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award - And Why It's Great For Aspiring Authors

It's that time of year again! The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The competition takes 10,000 entries in two categories - young adult and general fiction. Over a few rounds they whittle down the entries to pick one in each category.

The first stage is based on a pitch that you write for your book. This simulates a reader browsing in a book store, the pitch is like your back jacket copy. The second round is based on your first chapter, and the third on your book as a whole.

Five reasons why it's great for aspiring writers:

1: It's free. Most contests aren't, so this is a big plus in its favour. If you have a completed novel, you've nothing to lose. (You can enter self-published novels, but not book that have been traditionally published)

2: It helps you learn how to market your book. You can get help writing and polishing your pitch from other writers on the ABNA forum. Even if you don't win, you can use this to write your query letter to agents and publishers.

3: If you progress beyond the pitch stage you get relatively impartial feedback on your writing.

4: You get to know lots of people on the forums. There's great camaraderie in the writing community, which makes a mostly solitary occupation a little less lonely.

5: There's always the chance you could win, and get a publishing deal with Penguin worth at least $15,000. Not to shabby...

What have you got to lose?

Monday 23 January 2012

Out of Office - Back on Wednesday

Hi all,

Sorry that I haven't been online. Polly Pocket is leaving tomorrow, and we're finding it more difficult than we thought. I don't want to moan about it, yet can't thing of a topic for an upbeat post. So I'm going to leave it until Wednesday.

Thanks guys x

Wednesday 18 January 2012

I've Sold 100 Books!

Ok, so in the scheme of things one hundred books isn't a lot, but for me it's huge. The average self-publisher is said to sell less than a hundred copies, so to pass that landmark is a huge achievement for me. At 99 cents per copy, I'm not exactly rolling in the spondoolicks but considering I only launched Storms in Teacups on Christmas Eve I'm thrilled.

And on with the next book! :)

P.S. Sorry about the brevity of this post, am having a really bad day with my fibromyalgia. But it's bad enough going through it without making you all read about it.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Moving On

I talk a lot about my life on here apart from writing, but actually I'm a very private person. I don't really talk about how I feel with many people in my off-internet world.

Polly is being moved next week. For those of you who don't know, Polly is a premature baby that myself and my husband have been fostering since the start of October. We found out before Christmas but didn't tell many people. We knew that she would be moving at some point, but we're still finding it pretty difficult. It's hard to pack up belongings for a baby you've looked after for almost four months.

I'm not going to write a big post about it, because I don't feel comfortable doing that. I'll return to my usual post themes tomorrow.

Thursday 12 January 2012

On Writing a Series

So I started writing the sequel to Ravensborough today. For those of you who don't know, Ravensborough is the young adult urban fantasy novel that I entered in last year's ABNA contest.

It was strange writing as a character that I hadn't visited for almost a year. I really enjoyed being back in the world and meeting up with my secondary characters.

I found that I slipped back into Scarlett's voice relatively easily, and the dialogue came naturally enough. My main problem was this - when writing the second part of a series, how do you pace the details of what happened in the first book? I want to avoid info-dumps at all costs.

I think it's even more difficult with fantasy, because as well as letting the new reader know what happened in the first book, you have to let them know the rules of the world you created. It's a lot of information and it can overwhelm a new reader while boring someone who read the first instalment senseless. I know I tend to skim read when I'm reading the 'last season' recap in books.

Anyone got any tips for me?

(Thanks for all the support while Polly was in hospital. Thankfully she's now home and healthy.)

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Technowoes Begone!

For the past year I have been working on a netbook. I had a beautiful desktop in college which I wrote most of Storms and Ravensborough, but it gave up the ghost in our last house. The motherboard gave out, and it would have been cheaper to buy a new computer then to get it fixed.

We decided to postpone buying me a new machine, because I had a netbook (his name is Sam). My netbook was for bringing in to college and archives to take notes. My hands find it difficult to use pens for long periods, and a netbook is lighter than a laptop to carry. It was a perfect secondary machine.

But I was unemployed and Ireland's economy was flat-lining. We decided to put off buying me a new computer and put the money towards something more sensible. Like paying the gas bill or, y'know, buying food.

But my small computer, while fantastic, isn't able for the intensive use I was giving it. Over the past few months it's started to grumble and have hissy fits. He never signed up for full-time use, I was pushing him too hard and he was nearing breaking point. I still couldn't justify buying another computer.

But then my husband's laptop, which was as slow as bedamned after six years of constant use and a lot of bulky software, bit the dust. So we went off shopping yesterday for a new family computer. After ten minutes of me stroking a Sony Vaio and doing mental arithmetic to work out what we'd have to give up in order to buy one (hint: gas, food) we settled on a beautiful HP laptop. We called her Harriet.

I'm writing on her now, and it's a strange experience after a year on Sam. Harriet's screen is so much bigger and I keep pressing the wrong keys. At least I'm not worried about losing my work so much now. (Yes, I do back up. When I remember.) And Sam is happy to return to being an archival, portable machine.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Putting On My History Hat

I juggle lots of different things - with varying levels of success. One of those things is historical research. I studied history for my primary degree, and have a master's degree in the social and cultural history of medicine.

I started researching again in October after a year off, and I'm really enjoying it. I find my subject fascinating, and I love piecing together evidence in order to discover something new. I only realised how much I missed research when I took it up again. I've fallen back into a familiar groove and I can completely lose myself in it, in the same way that I can lose myself in writing.

I know that the logical thing to do would be to pick one thing, academic research or writing, and pursue that path exclusively. I foster, so I'm effectively a working mother with a full-time job who's pursuing a degree and whose house permanently look like a mini tornado stopped by. I'm piling stress on myself, and that's not good for my condition, my sanity or my husband.

But yet the idea of giving up either option makes me sad. How do you reconcile all the things that you want/need to do? Did you learn to let some of them go, or did you keep on juggling?

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Back to Work & New Year Resolutions

My birthday roses...
Hope you all had a great Christmas! I'm back writing today, which I was worried would be difficult. But I realised this morning how much I missed writing - I was ready to start back. Which is good because I need to finish the next book.

I'm not a big New Year's person. For me the date is completely arbitrary, and I never do anything particularly special for it. So I don't make resolutions as such. But I think Christmas is a time for re-evaluating where you are now and where you want to go. So I do make goals.

I'm not doing too badly on last year's resolutions. Ok, I haven't got a traditional publishing contract, but I have self-published my novel. Happily, it's selling reasonably well so fingers crossed that will continue. I'm fostering now, and I've started research for my PhD. Career wise I'd like to keep up the writing and release more books this year. I have a more detailed schedule for writing, but I won't bore everyone rigid by posting it here.

My main goals for 2012 are more social. Writing, research and minding children can all be very isolating, so I want to find a way to meet new people. Also, 2012 is already shaping up to be a really busy year for me. I need to get healthier if I'm going to have the energy to deal with it. The fibromyalgia means I have less energy anyway, so I need to be particularly careful. I also need to get my weight down for mobility reasons. I'm not giving myself rigid goals for this, because I want my goals to be achievable.

What about you guys? What are your goals?