Sunday, June 26, 2016


  1. Read to your children. It’s such an enjoyable experience. The earlier the better. But if your children are middle grade they will still love to sit down and hear Mam or Dad or whomever read a good book. With older children get them interested in reading snippets from the paper or from magazines. Highlight a news feature they are interested in or that’s topical or controversial, it will make it easier.  
  2. A good trick I had was to read to the younger kids in front of the older ones. I found the older ones would soon get drawn into the story and would come to look over my shoulder and listen to what I had to say. 
  3. Get older siblings to read to the younger kids. It does wonders for their confidence and their reading skills not to mention their relationship with one another.
  4. Buy/download/borrow a book and cd so the children can listen to a story while following the words on the page. They’ll come on in leaps and bounds. 
  5. Model the behaviour you want them to pick up on. It works and there’s nothing better than a guilt free rest with a good book, magazine or paper. 
  6. Explain to kids that they don’t have to know every word in a book. They can still get the general meaning without knowing every word. Sometimes when I’m reading I stop and ask the kids if they know what a certain word I’m stuck on is. I then ask one of them to look it up online or in the dictionary for me. (I do actually know the words…well most of the time!)
  7. Electronic bookmark dictionaries are an excellent present. Kids love using gadgets and this one ticks all the boxes!
  8.  Bribe them or bargain with them. Ten minutes reading equals ten minutes on your gadget or whatever works well for you. Once they get hooked on a book they’ll forget about gadgets (most of the time) and you won’t even have to bargain. Seriously.
  9. Start off slowly. Don’t expect them to read a lot at the beginning. Five minutes here or there works wonders and isn’t too daunting. Or take turns in reading a paragraph or page each.
  10.  Hide the gadgets and switch off the TV or limit them to a few minutes a day.    

Sunday, August 30, 2015


'Tom began - hesitantly at first, but, as he warmed to his subject, his words flowed more and more easily; in a little while every sound ceased but his own voice; every eye fixed itself upon him; with parted lips and bated breath the audience hung upon his words, taking no note of time, rapt in the ghastly fascinations of the tale.'

It's funny how it happens, we hear a story...or a perspective of a story and we're pulled under...maybe we just sink in. It's easy. The tale is a good one, there's an obvious unlikely hero. No-body needs to twist our arm, we're on their side, totally convinced. 
But then she rings. He calls. They tell you a story. One that sounds familiar but isn't. One that you've heard before...but haven't.You crease your brow while you nod your head. Unconvinced. 
      'But I thought-'
The laugh silences you. You press your lips tight together while your mind whirls like a merry go round and you listen to a different story, a new tale, where the hero is destroyed and the villain wins the day. 
And then you wonder if there ever was a hero...if there ever can be a hero? 
Time helps to soften the blow, it blurs the image and blunts the edges. There's always a hero, someone will always save the day.  
You sigh and smile. There's a niggling worry that you ignore, a fleeting thought that you don't try to catch. 
Just be careful who you choose to be your hero.
Who you choose to save the day.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


They say it takes about 30 days to form a habit, good or bad. Not long in the grand scheme of things really.But it's not just the doing, it's the keeping at something that's the hard part. Tony Robins says that in order to create a habit our shoulds become our musts! So I've decided to grab the bull by the horns and jump on. Yes, whether you want to or not you'll be hearing a lot more from me from now on.So while I'm here I'd like to congratulate all those shortlisted for the CBI Awards, it's going to be a tough call with so many fantastic books to choose from!! I don't envy the judges. Hope today's journey isn't too steep a climb. 

Shortlist 2015

Ten Books have been shortlisted for the 201 CBI Book of the Year Awards:
When Mr Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan
Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan
Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton
Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers
The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
Daideo by Áine Ní Ghlinn
Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
Haiku Más é do thoil é! by Gabriel Rosenstock illustrated by Brian Fitzgerald
Primperfect by Deirdre Sullivan
Beyond the Stars compiled by Sarah Webb

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Been Away Too Long!!

Yes, I've finally let go of my book and sent it off into the wilds of agents and editors and publishers! So while I'm twiddling my thumbs and considering my next project I thought I'd blog about all the amazing things going on in the world of Children's Literature.
The Prestigious CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals announce their long list for the first time!! So delighted for PJ Lynch who has done an amazing job, as always, in illustrating the Mysterious Traveller. There are other really great books included so don't forget to check them out.
Also if you haven't had the chance to do it yet make sure you get nominating for the next Laureate Na n-Óg. For the first time the nominations are open to all, especially schools and children! So you can download the nomination form here. You have until Saturday the 15th February at 5pm to send in the forms.
Finally thought you might like this, it's 9 Life Lessons Everyone Can Learn From These Classic Children's Books!!
Hope you're still enjoying the journey even if it is pretty wet and miserable out there!

Monday, November 18, 2013


If by any chance anyone is passing this page and happens to realize that I haven't posted a blog in quite a while please forgive me. It is very remiss of me but I do have some (what I believe are excellent) excuses to hand which I hope you will accept:

A) I am finishing a novel! The good news is that I am at the editing phase! Yeah. The bad news is I am way past my deadline so any spare minute I get goes into editing and rewriting.

B) My seven unruly children keep distracting me and insisting on having my full attention. The good news is there is lots of brilliant us time, the bad news is there is very little me time!

C) I am expecting another beautiful baby in May! The good news is that everything is going great and I'm soooo excited, the bad news is that the first three or four months is unbelievably tiring so I tend to fall asleep within minutes of my children going to sleep, usually over my laptop, which doesn't really give me much time for anything.

I could give more reasons about boring housework and tasty-ish dinners and exciting creative writing classes and more exciting school visits but I think you get the message. So hence my poor blog,  Facebook my twitter account (which for some crazy reason I have joined) are all suffering. I know you are too so please accept my humblest apologies, I will be back in the land of the living soon. For all you writers out there I hope you keep moving forward on your winding road. I will be adding more videos to my Creative Writing Series once my beloved book has flown the coop. Until then enjoy the journey.

Monday, September 16, 2013

"So much time and so little to do!"

"Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it." Yes, like good old Willie Wonka I've been snowed under a bit lately and my poor blog has suffered. On Friday the 13th of September I missed out on telling you about Roald Dahl Day and the 50 Scrumdiddlyumptious Ways you can Celebrate the fantastic books of this great author. Go on take a peek, make today your Roald Dahl Day.

It was also so sad to hear about the death of one of our own greats, Seamus Heaney. Paul Muldoon wrote a lovely eulogy on this great and gifted man. My favourite of his poems is Digging:
"Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it."
How genius to be able to say and make people feel so much in so few words.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam usual.

On a happier note my debut novel Flick has been shortlisted for the RAI (Reading Association of Ireland) Children's Book Awards 2013. I'm very chuffed about it all, especially as I'm among the following great short-listees:

Suzi Eszhertas with her book An Goraille

Sarah Garland with her book Azzi Idir Dhá Stól

Sheena Wilkinson with her book Grounded

Celine Kiernan with her book Into the Grey

Caitríona Hastings and Andrew Whitson with their book  Ó Chrann go Crann

Finally my next video will be up in the next week. Until then happy writing!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

One Busy Day!

Yes believe it or not it's me again! I have just uploaded my Creative Writing Tips 3 to YouTube (finally) Apologies for the delay but we've had the most amazing time away and I'm only getting re-acquainted with my broadband now, six weeks later! So yes I'm having a busy day. Kids I hear you ask? What kids? Ha, let's just say thank God for hubbies.
In Creative Writing Tips 3 I talk about character profiles. I've decided to put a rough draft of a character profile here in the hope that it will develop your characters. It is short but using the headings try to make your character profile as broad as possible. I'm sure there are other headings that I've missed out on so feel free to extend this. Happy Writing!!
                                    Character Profile

Character's name/s:

Character's Age:
Star sign:

Physical Description:
Hair color:
Hair Style:
Eye color:
Does s/he wear glasses? contacts?

Physical disabilities
Distinguishing Marks

What role have they in the family
Mother/father/siblings/extended family
If older is s/he in a relationship?
Have their own apartment/house/partner/car etc
Plan out a family tree (even a short one)

Where do they live? Country/County/ village/ City
Somewhere fantastical

School/College/Job/retired/unemployed/unable to work

What religion if any are they?
How does this impeach on their lives?


Good and bad
Why have they these characteristics? Hereditary/Learned/Brought on from a specific event

Type of people they hang around with. Why?
Why they have enemies?