Thursday, June 30, 2011


I love book launches; love knowing my fellow writers are published and their work for sale in bookshops and available to booklovers to read.

Last evening I was in Longford where Anne Skelly's debut novel "Foolish Pride" was launched to great fanfare in the County Library - a wonderful facility with not only library but also Archives and a Heritage Service. Present was the newly appointed Lord Mayor of Longford; launch was by local author Brian Leydon; those attending included several local authors; the many writing and reading groups in the county, and friends of Anne's from as far afield as Germany.

"Foolish Pride" is a modern love story but with a nod to Jane Austen and a must read for the romantics among us. It is published by Book Republic ( which describes itself as "a bijou publishing press". BR is an imprint of Maverick House Publishers, but, given the current climate where getting published is so difficult, the most interesting fact about Book Republic is that it is actively seeking talented new Irish writers.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


This weekend the town of Enniscorthy is holding its Strawberry Festival. When I arrived yesterday, the townsfolk were out in strength, enjoying the sunshine, music and general air of carnival.

The newly and gorgeously refurbished library was site for my talk titled: The Life & Times of Eileen Gray (1878-1976). Irish designer Eileen Gray was born at Brownswood house on the banks of the Slaney, although her creative life was spent in Paris, and her family are remembered fondly in the town. We had a good turn out, an enthusiastic audience with plenty of questions afterwards.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


It's good to have something positive to report on the publishing front.

The good news is that both Eileen Gormley and Caroline McCall are in celebratory mode.

I first met these dedicated writers when they were starting out. They came with gritted-teeth determination to my writing course as part of UCD's Adult Education Programme, and over the past few years they have persevered and learned the craft of writing.

Like most other skills, writing requires the serving of an apprenticeship when the writer discovers what works, what doesn't work and learns to apply this knowledge to their work. In the course of this, they find their writing voice.

Eileen Gormely whose novel Don't feed the Fairies was shortlisted for Amazon Book of the Year, is now digitally published by Fantasy Island Book Publishers in the States who plan to bring out a paperback edition in 2012.

Caroline McCall's w/t:Everything beneath the Sky is being published by Ellora's Cave, again in the States, and she's almost finished her next, w/t: Jake's Prisoners.

Neither of these writers are resting in their laurels: they are well into a body of work which in the current publishing climate, and with the cost of marketing, is what publishers want to know.

Good luck to them. And for those of you interested in achieving similar success, a talent for writing counts but success is 90% dedication and hard work.

I'm back in UCD in the autumn with a new course titled: The Nuts & Bolts of Writing and Plotting Fiction. It's a beginning for people interested in writing.

More on or

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Anne Skelly's Publishing SUCCESS!!

There's nothing we writers like more than a publishing contract. I am happy to report that Anne Skelly's debut novel titled Foolish Pride is being launched in Longford on Wednesday 29 June.

I first met Anne some years ago when she came to a weekend writing course I was facilitating in the Seanachai Centre, Listowel, Co Kerry. Then she had the essence of a powerful story, and like the true writer she is, she persevered, writing and re-writing until she had achieved publishing standard.

Foolish Pride was picked up by Book Republic (, an imprint of Maverick House who describes itself as "a boutique publishing firm based in Ireland". Aware of the downturn internationally in traditional publishing and that it is particulalry difficult for emerging writers to get published, it's mission is to give new and talented writers an opportunity of publication. The company is producing great reads, with particularly gorgeous, reader-attractive covers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


This comes courtesy of Robert Lacey, British historian and biographer, who forwarded the talk given by Robert Caro (reported by Andrea Pitzer) at the The 2011 BIO Conference

“Show, don’t tell” is a mantra of narrative writers everywhere, but even the most useful adage can lose meaning with repetition. Before a lunchtime audience of writers at the second annual Compleat Biographer Conference, legendary biographer Robert Caro reinvigorated the concept.

How did he do it? With a vivid evocation of the way that place can reveal motivation and illuminate character—making direct explanation completely unnecessary.

In the National Press Club ballroom, BIO president Nigel Hamilton presented Caro with the 2011 BIO Award. Hamilton noted that the prize honored what Caro has done “not just for the craft of biography but for the standing of biography itself in our society.” Setting, Caro suggested, plays a vital role in timeless fiction:

“The greatest of books are books with places you can see in your mind’s eye,” he said, “The deck of the Pequod while the barefoot sailors are hauling the parts of the whale aboard to melt them down for oil. The battlefield at Borodino as Napoleon, looking down from a hill on his mighty imperial guard, has to decide whether to wave them forward into battle. Miss Havisham’s room, the room in which she was to have been married, the room in which she received the letter that told her that the man she loved wasn’t coming, the room with the clock stopped forever at the minute she got the news, the room with the wreckage of the wedding feast that has never been taken away.”

Yet, Caro noted, few reviews point to the power of place in nonfiction. The value of place, widely acknowledged as a key component of literature, he suggested, is often overlooked in biography.

“If the place is important enough in the character’s life,” he said, “if on the most basic level he spent enough time in it, was brought up in it or presided over it, like the Senate, or exercised power in it, like the White House; if the place, the setting, played a crucial role in shaping the character’s feelings, drives, motivations, insecurities, then by describing the place well enough, the author will have succeeded in bringing the reader closer to an understanding of the character without giving him a lecture, will have made the reader therefore not just understand but empathize with a character, will have made the readers’ understanding more vivid, deeper than any lecture could.”

Further details:

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Contact from Jarlath Glynn of Wexford County Council asking me to give a talk on Irish designer and architect Eileen Gray. As she is one of my passions, I couldn't be more pleased.

The talk which we decided to call 'A Celebration: The Life & Times of Eileen Gray (1878-1976)' will be in PowerPoint format in Enniscorthy Library, on Saturday afternoon 25 june at 2.30 PM. More details from or from me

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Hello from the heart of Listowel, celebrating 40 years of WRITING and discussions by international movers and shakers , and where a plethora of workshops aimed at writers who are both professionally stablished and published, and complete beginners.

The programme is comprehensive, as always, catering for every taste, all put together by the wonderful committee who work voluntarily.

Highlights - depending on those you talk to - were Richard Dawkins discussion with Kevin Myers on natual selection, amongst his many other atheistically favoured subjects. Then there was internationally renowned Gerald Celente who was billed as 'showing the future'. Disappointingly he did little more than 'sound byte' his way through the familiar ground of the wars of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the 9/11 twin towers.
Wonderful Book launches, exhibitions of paintings, theatre - the sold out 'Dear Frankie' documenting Frankie Byrne's iconic radio programme; Julie Feeny's concert, Joseph O'Connor and Philip King reading and musical contributions. Information from