Free To (Any) Good Home


When I was younger and wasn’t so aware of time’s winged chariot forcing me onto the hard shoulder I would persevere with books I didn’t really like. I’d bought it so I was determined to finish it, as though some omniscient Library Monitor was waiting to stamp my card. Not any more. Let’s face it, there are some books that don’t deserve more than an hour of anyone’s time. Perhaps I’ve written some of them. If so I have every sympathy with any reader who consigns it to the bag of stuff intended for the church fete.

The M Word

piggybank I don’t really like talking about money. I don’t even like thinking about it, which is perhaps one of the reasons I ended up in this profession. You might say I was saved from total penury by my inability to write poetry. But anyway, I was very happy to see two other writers going public on the M word recently: Val McDermid and Joanne Harris, both excellent and successful authors have spoken up on behalf of those of us lower down the food chain.

Definitely Not Ready For My Close-Up


There’s a thing women’s magazines have started doing. Where they would formerly have commissioned an article from a writer whose work they like they now go trawling. Let’s say they’ve decided they want to run a feature on Living With a Competitive Sister. They send out a request to every publicist in the land. Do you have anyone who’d be interested in writing this?

Creative Writing, Anyone?

inspirationI wandered, lonely as…. lonely as a sadsack with halitosis and a personality disorder? No, that doesn’t work.  Back to the pencil chewing.

Let’s talk about similes. I’ve discovered that I have, if not an allergy certainly a sub-clinical sensitivity to them. Dog dander, sulphites, and now similes. The sulphites are a particular burden because I love pickled onions and Mavrodaphne wine. Although not in the same mouthful.

Similes are much harder to avoid. If you read fiction   -  I try not to but sometimes you just gotta  -  they’re all over the place like…. like pictures of people called Kardashian.

Distant Elephants

elephants2   This morning I slayed (slew?) an elephant. Not a real one, you understand. I like elephants, though I acknowledge they don’t make good neighbours. Uprooting trees, trampling crops and generally setting themselves up for an ASBO. And they look so cute.  But I’m talking about distant elephants, those things we agree to because they’re months and months away and then every time we open the diary they’ve grown bigger and more threatening.

Breaking News…




I’ve been invited to speak at The Lady Literary Lunch on September 9th and unlike Miss Otis I am able. You can reserve your seat right here

No pushing, eye-poking or stampeding, please.

Here’s One I Prepared Earlier


It’s been a funny old week.  We went down to Kerry for a few days, making the most of our Senior Citizen free travel passes before the Irish government decides to withdraw that generous concession. But I took with me two pieces of work: the page proofs of The Grand Duchess of Nowhere which required immediate attention and my research notes for the new book. My mind, you might say, was definitely on work in hand. Also a nice seafood lunch in Dingle.  I was therefore thrown for a minute when I received an email from my publisher congratulating me on publication day. Then I got it. They meant the mass market edition of The Liar’s Daughter.

A Bad Case of Subjunctivitis

editor     Circumstances beyond anyone’s control have led to a telescoping of the final tweaks to this year’s book. Less than a week after finishing the copy-edit the page proofs are already on my desk. It’s been hectic and quite taxing, not least because of a bit of a grammatical wrestling match.

Generally speaking writers don’t get to meet their copy editors. As with designers, it’s a relationship best conducted at a distance. Sometimes it’s as smooth as silk, sometimes it’s the occasion for an outbreak of authorial tetchiness.

Measuring Progress


First thanks to all those who responded to my last post. It’s always interesting to take a sounding from readers before I set off and, in all likelihood, carry on as before.

Most days I have lunch with my husband and most days he asks, ‘How goes it?’

It’s a question I try to duck. Progress on a novel is a tricky thing to assess. If you’re knitting a woolly hat for your granddaughter (and I am) you can say, ‘Well, I’m just shaping the crown. I have the ears to do, then it’ll be finished.’ But a novel…

But Seriously…..

laughingwoman    So here I am, suitcase unpacked, laundry done and ready for anything. I had imagined I’d have plenty of time for creative thinking during my holiday, seeing as how someone else was steering the boat and cooking dinner but as it turned out my thoughts very soon settled into a comfortable rut. The biggest decision I made all week was whether to have dessert or cheese. I guess I needed a rest. But now I have a serious matter to address. The direction my…ahem…career has taken.