Sunday, 27 November 2016


Gosh, that's a boring title. I don't think it's a boring subject though when it comes to writing. The theme or themes are an undercurrent running through your story. It's the link that pulls the plot together and drives the characters. A theme in the book I am currently working on is loss; especially loss of babies and loss of identity. Another theme is power; particularly the power of certain men in 1950s rural Ireland. I would say that the theme might not be initially obvious to the writer but it emerges from the writing. I would love to hear anyone else's views on this subject.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Swallow Hall Murder
I got my first review for this the other day - was anxiously awaiting this and delighted to get it. All writer are insecure,  I reckon (if you excuse the generalisation) and have fragile egos. Highs and lows are quick in succession. Now that I know what it is to be read and reviewed I'm trying to be diligent in my responses to other writers. I know how much it matters.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Another series

Edith Horton is very much alive and investigating but I was compelled to start another series...Ballytierney...a small Irish town in the 1950s and I am nearly finished the first. I will submit it to Tirgearr and then begin my fifth Edith. I love Edith but I also felt  the  need to have another series running in tandem. I wonder if any other writer identifies with  this.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Pet hates

Now, that I've had my own writing edited and examined I dare to stick my neck out and talk about some of my pet hates, in novels. There are more...but here's a start!
1. "Inward sighing" or inward anything...
2. Wish fulfilment, where very unlikely people indeed, fall at the feel of our heroine or hero.
3. People throwing cushions or pillows at each other...a shortcut for playfulness.
4.Women as too victimised and humiliated and especially, subject to torture and violence.
5. Labels indicating wealth and crap values.
6. Too much telling.
7. Laboured humour.
8. The word "gotten".
9. People fiddling with their hair.
10. Lazy stereotypes, e.g. stroppy, mouthy teenager.

Saturday, 13 August 2016


I am reading: How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson.
This is a revelation to me. I've read writing books before but this one could have been written specially for me. Planning and plotting are my biggest challenges. I write off the top of my head, as they say, and it does work for me. It is true that the whole thing takes on a life of its own - minor characters take on a bigger role, incidents happen and reasons emerge. But, I'm not altogether happy with my method. I know planning would improve my books and my job  would be a lot easier. However, planning in a notebook does not work for me. It kills the story stone dead, in fact.

In the snowflake method, you don't plan in the normal sense  but you do exercises which reveal your story and your characters and before you start writing you do have - maybe not a road map or a plan - but you have a body of knowledge (even of it's all made up) that informs your writing and definitely makes it stronger.   

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Where do you you get your ideas?

Oh, this is a tricky, tricky questions. It's a good question but not so easy to answer.

For me, the idea comes from something very small. It can be something I read or something I hear and it lurks away at the back of my mind, just coming to the fore every now and then. I think its a good idea keep to notebook for this purpose. Many of  the ideas come to nothing but some are more persistent.

Treated as Murder came from this picture I had in my head of an unmarried sister and brother living in Yorkshire. I knew in my mind that the first World War played a part. It was also clear to me that mental illness would play a part. This came directly from my experience of working as a psychiatric nurse.

The idea of having a second underlying story came from my crime novel reading. I think this can work really well though you can get it wrong and I know I committed the sin of letting a sub-plot take too much prominence in (an earlier) draft of Treated as Murder.

I honestly can't say for sure that I initially intended Edith Horton to become heroine of a series. I think this happened gradually.

Friday, 5 August 2016


Oh. Even the word sounds harsh and final. No matter how you school yourself against it, the feeling you get when your novel is returned is not nice. The tendency here is to see a rejection as not only of your novel but of yourself- your idea, your creativity, intelligence, talent and above all your writing.

My advice here is to indulge in this welter of self-pity for a prescribed time limit. No more than 1 - 2 days, then you get annoyed with yourself and give yourself a good talking to.
Almost all writers get rejections - they are part of the process of getting published.
It isn't personal - no-one is just being nice to you (in publishing "being nice) is rare. It is often the case that your book just doesn't fit their list at that time.

You will get there in the end.

Pre-emptive measures:
Always have something else in the pipeline. This may be another agent/publisher or a different project. You know what they say about all your eggs in one basket.

Have a writing buddy or group that will support at this point.