They say a change is as good as a rest – but a rest does the job too

Back in April, I wrote a post about not breaking the chain, which involved making sure I did at least one writing-related task every single day. Having started the chain on the 3rd of January this year, I am pleased to announce that I kept it going for 185 days straight. Despite the best of intentions, however, I knew that I would have to break the chain eventually and ended up doing so on the 7th of July.

But I broke it in spectacular fashion and have in fact taken almost a month off from writing…! This was in order to Continue reading

The preferences of a writer’s palate: fancy meal or messy takeaway?

What do you like to see when you open a menu? Perhaps you are attracted to a dish that is described in elaborate language, seasoned with exotic terminology, and served like art on a plate. Or maybe you prefer a more humble bill of fare and don’t mind how sloppy it looks so long as it tastes delicious.

This is sometimes how I view reading books. I would put literary classics in the fancy meal category and more lighthearted material in the messy takeaway category. Both can appeal for different reasons but, like the food they represent, both offer Continue reading

This book really makes me want to become an editor

I’ve read a book that has left me itching to attack it with a red pen, so much so that I’m going to dissect it here and say what I would have done if I had been the book’s editor. This is not to say that I thought the book was all bad – in fact, I really liked its premise and judged it to have a lot of potential. It was the execution of the story and the writing that left me disappointed. So, rather than looking at this as a criticism of what the book was, I’d rather view it as a lament for what it could have been.

Alert No.1: In writing this post, I do not claim to be better than professional editors working in the industry. This is my subjective opinion which stemmed from my reading experience of the book in question.

Alert No.2: To speak about the book’s strengths and shortcomings, I will be revealing much of the storyline. Therefore don’t read on if you’d like to avoid spoilers!

So what’s the book? It’s called So Much Owed by Jean Grainger, a work of historical fiction set in Ireland and Continue reading

The undisputed queen of the genre

I am speaking, of course, of Georgette Heyer and the genre she essentially invented: historical romance. This corner of the book market tends to be flooded with titles, some good and some of rather more questionable quality, but a Georgette Heyer book is always a highly reliable choice. I find her to be the literary equivalent of comfort food, and turn to her whenever I want a nice love story.

I have written about her before but I’ve read two more of her books over the last few months and wanted to reiterate my admiration. I’m just so impressed by how well she immerses a reader in the settings and social interactions of the 19th century. One of my Continue reading

Don’t break the chain: a writer’s mantra

No, this isn’t about spam mail claiming you will have seven years’ bad luck unless you forward it to 100 other people. It’s about motivation, consistency and – after a while – pure obstinacy!

I came across the notion of ‘Don’t break the chain’ in a recent blog post by crime author Catherine Ryan Howard. Always generous with advice, Catherine offered up some productivity tips and one of them was to not break the chain. She recommended putting Continue reading

Giving up on a book – when do you make that call?

Up until very recently, I was a firm believer that you should always power through a book to the end, regardless of its appeal, length or quality. This principle was motivated by a number of factors, including:

  • a simple desire to find out what happens
  • a respect for the time and effort the author has put into producing the work
  • a sense of completion at the end that aligns with my inbuilt impulse to neatly box away everything in life

Unfortunately, I have encountered a book which has forced me to abandon this enduring cornerstone of my existence.

Prior to Continue reading

That scary moment…

…when you give your manuscript to others to read. Eek! It feels something akin to going out in public with no clothes on. It’s a terrifying prospect but a necessary step towards the ultimate goal. (Thankfully, no nakedness actually required.)

After a sporadic December, January turned out to be a productive month and I completed the eleventh draft of the first book in my historical fiction series less than half way into February. Yes, draft number eleven. I first put pen to paper (luminous orange ink in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer notebook) on this story back in distant 2002 and Continue reading

A fleeting focus on facts and figures (with fireworks)

Usually, when January comes, WordPress delivers a Year in Review report with statistics about the views, posts, comments, etc., on your blog over the past year. They throw in some fireworks too which is always a cheerful sight (here’s the 2015 report for illustration). Unfortunately, their resources didn’t allow for such a service this year which meant I was obliged to go digging for the details myself.  Most of it turned out to be available in the admin section of the site so here are a few points I’ve put together!

In 2016, my website accumulated: Continue reading

“Ireland Is…”

I’m delighted to share a wonderful video of a poem entitled “Ireland Is…” with you today.  It is a collaborative effort by members of a Facebook group called Oh My God What A Complete Aisling (OMGWACA) and is about how important home is to us all. The lines of the poem were recorded by over eighty members, collated by Aidan Strangeman and edited together by Bob Murphy (my husband!). At times hilarious, unforgiving, nostalgic and moving, it will resonate with people both at home and abroad.

The video has been produced to help raise funds for Continue reading

2016: Time to take stock

Another year has passed which means it’s time to look back over 2016 and assess how it went!

December 2016On a global scale, I think many people are in agreement that the year has been something of a disaster, with regard to both international politics and the loss of numerous celebrity greats. On a personal level, I’ve found it to be a year of bad luck in quite a few different aspects, although there were memorable moments too, including special weddings of very close friends. But, for the purposes of this blog, the question is how did I fare out in writing terms?

My final post of 2015 included these words: “2016 will see Continue reading