Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Where do your research journeys take you?

I love the circuitous journey that ensues when researching people and places. Currently, I’m writing about an African girl in 18th century Africa. This led me to find:, the most incredible database of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. From there, I ended up learning about Queen Nanny, an amazing Ashanti slave whose image is now on the Jamaican €500 bill. Her biography mentioned a William Cuffee and as my ex-husband (now deceased) was a good friend with a Jeff Cuffee, I Googled his name to see if there was a link. I didn’t find one, but, did find a book by Joseph Nicholson entitled: ‘What is Happening to the Negro in the Protestant Episcopal Church’. Appendix A of the book reads :

‘A Declaration, by Priests who are Negroes, on the Personnel Policies and Practices of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America; Addressed to the Presiding Bishop, The Rt. Rev. John E. Hines and the Members of the House of Bishops and to the Executive Council’.

The declaration was signed by 132 priests and including my children's father. I hadn’t known that.

Where do your research journeys take you?

Friday, August 2, 2013

the voice in my head

When I’m writing, it’s disconcerting how often things my mother said enter my consciousness.  My mother has been deceased for over twenty years, so, to clearly see and hear her makes me smile.

While thinking of words of advice for my characters, her cliches scream:

Perfume should whisper and not shout
Marry for love but love where the money is (I should have taken this advice).

Trying to name my characters, I remember some of the people she knew who had funny names:

Kitty Pigeon
Miles Long
Annie Sex

And her pet peeves:

Very unique
Free gift
Widow of the late . . .

Am I weird or do most people have a voice of advice they hear while writing?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What's More Important, the Agent or the Marketing Pro?

Finally, your manuscript is alive and e-published. You dream of a miracle happening and that book sales will catapult you into the best seller stratosphere. Surely now, you’ll pick up an agent and publisher. After friends and family have purchased your book, you anxiously wait to see if anyone else is out there; and you become so amazed and grateful when some people who are unknown to you buy the book and leave comments.  And then, slowly the initial interest in your work wanes. Disappointment sets in. You know what you’ve written is a good story but even you are honest enough to admit that it’s not the ‘Great American Novel’.  You begin to doubt and vow never to write again. Good thing for you that that feeling only lasts for about a day.

What would make the difference? It doesn’t take long to know that if you had: an editor, agent and publisher to get your book out there, the chances are good that it would be reviewed by the best book-critics. That should result in your book being read by a larger audience. And of course, then, enough sales would be made to support your lifestyle . . . well, enough to at least allow you to write without the guilt of not earning minimum wage. Discouraging! Not enough to stop writing.

Every writer should be encouraged by the fact that the brilliant and wonderful JK Rowling, using a pseudonym—while still having an editor, agent and publisher for her well reviewed ‘ The Cuckoo’s Calling’—could not garner more than 1,500 sales without the aid of a marketing machine.

So my question to you is: Should we concentrate our efforts on securing media-marketing professionals rather than pursuing literary agents or publishers?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Why I Like To Write

I’m always amazed when people ask me why I like to write. Really! I like to write for the same reason people like to garden, or swim, or walk, or play music—I enjoy it.  Often, I receive well meaning advice about what I should be writing and how to write it, and not to make light of any suggestions, I’m not capable of constructing a story on anything other than what’s in my head. Even though it would be wonderful, it doesn’t matter if others like my work or not, it’s my work and the story is what my thought process reveals.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved writing. At school, homework assignments of compositions in both Irish-Gaelic and English were always enthusiastically tackled. Stories about travel and adventure were especially my favorites and when my Junior Certificate Composition selection offered ‘A Shipwrecked Sailor tells his Story’ I was immediately transported to saving the day on a faraway island.

Currently, I have about six different stories that have begun their life on paper and are just waiting for the rest of the story to percolate.  I guess it’s time to make coffee.

And you, why do you like to write?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I was pleased to find out that Sara in Le Petit Village nominated me for the Liebster Award. I should mention however, that Sara is my daughter so this award has nepotism written all over it!

The Liebster Award comes with the following rules:

1. Thank and link back to the blogger who presented you with the award
Thank you Sara!

2. List 11 random facts about yourself:

1) I could read before I was 4 – I had a lot of older siblings and thought I should be able to do what   they could
2) As a child I always wanted to look like my sister
3) I almost joined the Air Force – and wonder what road my life would have taken if I had done so
4) My favorite job was being a Nanny
5) I wish I could spend more time with my son and daughter
6) I hate gardening
7) Cooking for friends is my ‘night out’
8) I love the variety of experiences that life has afforded me
9) I’m sorry I didn’t pursue a college degree
10) I hate my short fat feet and over-big nose
11) I like living alone

3. Answer the 11 questions you were asked.

1) What movie or TV show do you hate that everyone else loves? Everybody Hates Raymond, I can't understand why it lasted so long. 

2) Where were you when you ate your first Chicken McNugget?

Hawaii, on the way to Australia for a family holiday.

3) Who are you five dream dinner guests (alive or dead) and what would you cook them? 

Chaucer – he had a real job and still had time to write – I love his period of history, 

Mandela – How he has been able to inspire with grace despite the horrors he was subjected to, 
Helen Keller – a true inspiration for ‘getting on with it’, 
Brian Boru – My favorite Irish King, 
Jesus – Who better. 
I would serve Boeuf Bourguignon – a great dish to linger over

4) What is your favorite book or author? 

That’s hard . . . I’ve have so many. My early favorite is ‘Katherine’ by Anya Seton – for me,  it sparked a huge interest in the Plantagenets.

5) What is your favorite tipple? 

Wine . . . Montrachet

6) What's your middle name? 


7) If you were given €4000 for a holiday, where would you go and what would you do? 

I would fly to England, hop the Eurostar to Paris and from there make my way by train to Moscow where I would board the Trans-Siberian Express to Beijing, making stops along the way.

8) What song do you hear, that when you hear it, takes you right back to your childhood/ teenage years? 

Irene Goodnight – my father used to sing that to me – changing Irene to Eileen

9) What's your favorite sport and favorite team? 

I love most sports – particularly: Tennis, Rugby and Basketball. Love the San Antonio Spurs and the season they had. They’ve been such a cohesive unit for so long and have done so without ‘Star’ entitlements.

10)  McDonald's or Burger King? 

Don’t frequent very often, but there are times when you just have to have a McDonald's. I always preferred the Burger King Whopper to the Big Mac, but while in Provence enjoyed the McDonald's Petit Burger – they should market it worldwide

11)  What is your favorite city in the world? 

New York – It’s where I spent my ‘personal’ growth years. To me, it is the complete city; it has the best and worst of everything and it is so easy to get around

4. Write 11 questions for your nominees.

1) Who is your favorite character in history and why?

2) Your least favorite person in History – and why?

3) Given your choice of dream job, what would it be?

4) Who has inspired you most in your life?

5) If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

6) What is it that takes you back to your favorite childhood memory?

7) What is your favorite book of all time

8) If you could meet someone (dead-or-alive) who would it be?

9) Favorite childhood memory?

10)  What language would you love to be fluent in?

11)  If you won a 200 million lottery, how would you spend the money?

5. Present/nominate a Liebster blog award to 3-5 other bloggers.
Deborah Lawrenson - author of The Lantern, a book my daughter has told me is a must read
Sophie Moss - author of The Sea Island Trilogy set in my beloved Irish homeland
Juliette Sobanet - author of a series of dreamy romance novels set in Paris 

That was fun! Thanks again Sara!

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

She Got It

On my last post, I relayed how ‘No Place Like Loam’ was never marketed as it was written as a back story for 'Franklin’s Spy'; and my surprise when I found it on Amazon. It turns out that one of the people who bought 'No Place Like Loam', is a middle school teacher and she commented on my Facebook page that she felt that the book could be used to help introduce middle school students to the Arab-Israeli conflict. This made me extremely happy as she clearly had gotten the underlying messages I was trying to convey in the book. I was so touched by this and the fact that this teacher requested her local library to carry the book; and recommended it to some students. Another beautiful surprise!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Pleasant Surprise

Many years ago while pondering the writing of Franklin’s Spy, I decided that the character, Michael O'Brien, needed a ‘back story’ and I came up with No Place Like Loam.

In 2002 I had it published with iUniverse, and as I was in the process of moving back to Ireland from The U.S. and was busy settling back into life in Ireland, I never ended up doing anything to market the book, and quite frankly, forgot about it.

Recently, while perusing Amazon for updates on Franklin’s Spy, I was most surprised to see that No Place Like Loam was available for sale on their site and also it had been put into Kindle format. I had no idea how this came about. A call to iUniverse revealed that in 2009 they had converted the book free of charge and that they had tried notifying me, but all of my contact details were long out of date; my email address was an old one that belonged to my brother-in-law, my mailing address was that of a dear friend who has been deceased for eight years, and who knows what telephone number was on file. So all off these years later, I am happily surprised that No Place Like Loam has been selling, not quite off of the shelves, but selling still, and I'm actually due royalties!