Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Down the Rabbit Hole

Isn't it's mind-boggling trying to find things on the internet? The amount of information out there is so monumentous that it's actually daunting and sometimes very scary. You want the best advice, the best service but you're bamboozled with hundred of websites that will take you down that rabbit hole, straight into a warren that you may never get out of. 

So a few years ago I came out of my cave, realised if I wanted more success with my writing I needed help and so I went in search. As I predicted there were so many individuals and companies that promised to edit my work perfectly, if I would just send on my manuscript and the required fee. After endless hours of searching and scrutinising I chose a reputable company. The feedback that came back was good and helped me clarify where I was, what I needed to do...but there was something missing, something that I just couldn't put my finger on so when I was ready to get more feedback I went searching again. The second company I went with was even more reputable...well they charged higher prices and only took on the projects they believed had potential (or so they said). So I went with it, paid my money, asked for a specific editor to look at a particular book I had completed. The company wrote back suggesting a different editor, one who had written and published a YA novel, just as I had, but who didn't seem to have any experience in this new area that I was experimenting in. I was annoyed. E-mailed back, suggested two different editors. Neither were available. The talents of their chosen editor was repeated. She was indeed a talented lady but not in the area I was looking at. So I said no. 

I was feeling pretty dejected as I rode off into the sunset, dreading the thought of hours on the internet again and another possible dead end. But you know what they say, third time always lucky, and so within a very short time I had clicked on Jericho Writers 

This website grabbed my attention immediately, it was so unlike the other organisations that just offered editorial services it was actually a community of writers that I could be part of. (As a mother of eight young kids I don't have a lot of time to be part of a writer's group so this online group was perfect for me.) It also offered sooooo much advice,  along with their editors room which has an impressive list of editors, writers, illustrators and industry people, to help with your project they also host events, give tutored courses, video courses, masterclasses, interviews and a whole lot more. Some of this information is free to all, the rest is for a small monthly fee. I'm sure if you check out Jericho Writers you'll see the value, as I did, in joining.  

What a relief to be part of a community of like-minded people, to be part of an organisation that's not just after your money but actually care about you, wants to teach and advise and guide and nurture you. What a relief to be part of an organisation that gives so much so freely. What a relief to be home. 

Jericho Writers had offered free writing advice to people who gave feedback on their services. I don't have a lot of 'me' time and what I have is very precious, but I'm happy to do this as I believe it is a fantastic community and an excellent organisation. Why not pop on over and see for yourself? 

Thursday, November 15, 2018


I was part of a great workshop earlier this year and the writer in residence, Mia Gallagher, was brilliant. Throughout the course she gave me a lot of advice and feedback and then some more... some of which I didn't really want to hear. You know when you think what you've written is perfect just the way it is. In this case ignorance was bliss. I was sailing along thinking everything was great and then suddenly this huge wave comes along, smacks right into me, disorientates me for a few minutes. But I got through it, carried on, forgot about the wobble and what caused it. Then smack another one, then another, they kept coming stronger and faster till I was in the middle of a storm of doubt and fear. Till my boat was creaking and groaning under the strain. I wanted to give up then and there, cover my head, pretend I didn't care. But the more I ignored the storm swirling around me the worse it got and the worst I felt. It's hard to hear the truth sometimes, harder still to get back up, change things and start again. But once I took that first step every step after that was a little easier. So I jettisoned a lot of words and a dear character, I've changed a few essentials in my story, patched up the boat. I've gotten through this storm, am sailing onwards again and my story is all the better for it. No doubt there'll be more storms ahead. But as Franklin D. Roosevelt so brilliantly said 'A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.' I'm not sure I'll be looking forward to the storms ahead or will be ready for the next one when it comes but now I know what to do. I'll learn from it. I'll get stronger. I'll get better and I'll keep sailing forward. So here's to the challenges and the bumpy roads and the stormy seas, may each one make you a more skilful sailor. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Wild Atlantic Way

I've had a very bumpy year, with many twists and turns along this ever winding road and now it has brought me and my family here, to Galway, to the beautiful west coast of Ireland, to the Wild Atlantic Way. I guess every tunnel, no matter how dark, has a light at the end of it. As Zig Ziglar so often said, 'difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.' It's only through discomfort that we grow. Our journey has brought us far and although there are still challenges we've taken more than a few steps in the right direction. 

My writing has had a bumpy year too. Trying to move eight kids and two adults and all our belongings has been a challenge, to say the least, and has taken a lot of time. So now back to business. As Richard Bach says: 

"A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

So let the work begin...continue...improve! 

Hope you are enjoying the journey wherever you are. And if you find yourself in that dark tunnel keep walking, one step at a time, you will reach the light that shining at the end of it. 

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!