Monday, September 24, 2012


It's with sadness and a certain amount of pride that I note The Anatomy of Writing Successful Fiction, Part I - Plots is oversubscribed, so we can take no more aspiring writers for this session.

The good news is there are still places for Spring and Summer 2013 where we'll be covering Characters and Editing.

This course which is geared towards writers and would-be writers is part of UCD's Adult Education Programme. It takes place in Carysfort Campus - the nicest campus and with the best coffee in the country - on Wednesday mornings from 10 o'clock to noon.

Further details from Adult Education: phone (01) 716 7123 or And of course you're welcome to contact me at

Saturday, September 22, 2012


In the current publishing climate publicity is everything. It used to be that a good book would find its level - but no more. And self promotion which has become almost mandatory is increasingly necessary and it can be so embarrassing. The concept of blowing one's trumpet doesn't sit well on most of us.

But a well designed website works wonders.look no further than best selling author Cecelia Ahern's website owned by Greenlight Go Ltd which in turn is 99 pc owned by Cecelia with the other 1 pc owned by her husband. Started in 2010 the company by September 2011 had accumulated profits of €1.5m.

Not  satisfied with this success the enterprising duo have set up Red Robin Productions to make and produce movies.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


With the so called 'silly season' over, it's time for book launches again. Some publishers get in early to capture the lucrative Christmas market, others are more inclined to wait until November.

Last evening saw the launch of Marita Conlon McKenna's Love, Lucie. Despite having made her name as a children's author, this is her first children's book in a while. Judging by the attendance, enthusiasm, marketing, posters and general air of excitement at the launch which was held in the Grafton Street branch of Dubray, it will be yet another success for her.

Also in the pipeline is Emma Donoghue reading from her latest short story collection, Astray. This is taking place in Dublin's gorgeous Hugh Lane Gallery at 2 o'clock on Saturday 29 September. Her play The Talk of The Town IS about Irish writer Maeve Brennan. She took New York by literary and social storm during the 1950s. Emma's play showing in the Project Art Centre - opening night 27 September.

Friday, September 7, 2012


According to the Sunday Times - main section - Shades of ...
is the biggest publishing phenomenon since Harry Potter hit
the bookshelves.

But no longer is EL James, the English housewife author of
those Shades having it all her own way. In a surprising move
for such a traditional publisher Penguin Ireland commissioned
two Dublin women from to write an Irish equivalent.

Eileen Gormley and Caroline McCall took the call to arms seriously. They spent much of the summer locked in writing combat battling to get the required 95,000 words. In keeping with the dedicated writers they are, they succeeded.

The Pleasures of Winter is scheduled to lift sales of the Christmas market for Penguin who has not had a happy summer and autumn sales-wise. Meanwhile Eileen and Caroline, prolific and skilled writers of various genres, are busy penning another...Well we'll just have to wait and see.....Won't we?


As someone who has come the route of print journalism - spread thinly,
I should assure on the broad bases of the Irish Times, Independent
Group, Irish Examiner and the majority of magazines ranging
from women's to business - I'm following with keen interest the
rise and rise of digital journalism.

Recent ABC figures make grim reading with sales of most titles heavily down: The Irish Independent  plummeted to below 100,000, The Times in region of 70,000, Belfast Telegraph around 40,000. Given the additional slump in advertising, now is not a good time to be involved in newspapers.

Enter salvation in the form of Leslie Buckley who last year made Irish corporate history by being voted off Independent News & Media (INM) and now in an extraordinary reversal of fortune he has been reappointed INM as chairman.

His plan is to bring the newspaper business into the digital sector. It's already being done and well buy the Irish Independent under the editorship of Noirin Hegarty who did such a  splendid job at the now defunct Sunday Tribune. Another newspaper on the up and up digitally is the Daily Mail, edited by Martin Clarke; it has loads of celebrity gossip, lifestyle features and women's interest stories than it's print cousin.

(Note: I am indebted to Stephen Price's column in the Sunday Times for some of this information)

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing writing things right; I wonder if I'm getting through to the writers who attend my seminars/classes/online; wonder if I'm acknowledging and directioning their talent. When I receive a "thank you" like the one below from Vincent who is a joy to have in the group, it has me re-doubling my efforts.

'It is nearly two years since I first attended your Nuts and Bolts class, attracted by the title and falling into the category of “would-be writer with an unquenchable drive to write but lacking ideas and devoid of creativity and imagination”.

I remember some things you said to the letter, some less so and some not at all. I have tried most of the techniques you gave us, discarded some, adapted others and embraced the remainder. Allowed to do so by “THERE ARE NO RULES” message you preached.

One of the first things you told us was to aim to write for two hours per day. At that stage twenty minutes was probably the most I could manage at a sitting and if I managed to do two hours writing in total before the following week’s class I would be doing well.

That did not mean I did not mull over the task in hand over the full week, thinking about the way I would approach the homework before ensuring in was completed over the Tuesday night / early Wednesday morning. I tried to get a routine going aiming for 30 minutes a day to start, and then build up to the two - and completely failed.

Without the classes I found that I lacked the discipline to write and my writing fell away completely between terms.

Then in March I decided to aim for fifty hours per month – with the self-imposed threat hanging over my head that I would cease writing altogether if I did not reach the target. This was a manageable target and one that allow me to miss a day now and again. I am pleased to say that I have now managed to get my 50 hours for the fifth consecutive month. And a day doesn’t seem right if I don’t put in at least some time.

This is a rather long-winded way of saying thank you. I hope you can recognise the success you have achieved in getting me to this stage as much as getting others to a much higher plane.'

'Nuff said...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Type of Beauty goes Kindle

A Type of Beauty, the story of Kathleen Newton who lived from 1854 to 1882 and packed so much living into her short life has hit the e-book market. It's a great read - if I, as its author, may say so.

Kate is such a delightful character that when I finished researching, writing and the interminable editing I missed her company.

All I need now is for e-readers to buy. When first published it was well received on all fronts, garnered good reviews and I'm having a great time giving talks, seminars etc about Kate and the Victorian era.

Getting A Type of Beauty professionally uploaded is an interesting exercise. I used - Matt and Diana Horner were both professional and helpful.