As far back as I can recall, I’ve had an immoderate appetite for two things; sweets, and reading. One of my favourite childhood pastimes was to combine both; lying on my bed, or in the park, or lolling on the sofa with a large dog-eared paperback and a bag of American hard-gums, was my idea […]

Things growing in my garden

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. (Robert Louis Stevenson)   It’s not an original idea,  just a homely little blog post, but I keep thinking about how becoming a gardener who can actually grow things is a useful metaphor for how I’m becoming a writer who […]

“When I write a novel I’m writing about my own life; I’m writing a biography almost, always. And to make it look like a novel I either have a murder or a death at the end” (Beryl Bainbridge) That’s it, I’ve clocked up 25,900 words as at the end of last night, which is just […]

I’m currently writing up chapter six of my novel, And The Buntings Flew, and its taking a long time; too long. I plan to end the chapter with the first major plot development, but I’m stuck on a descriptive section; something about what I was writing was bothering me, making progress slow. I’ve had to undertake quite a bit of research for this chapter, including remapping […]

Dear Constant Reader, Firstly, apologies for this blog being a non-event recently; I’m only just recovering from a particularly long-winded chest infection during which writing of any form dwindled to nothing as my constant phlegmy cough precluded everything but itself. But I’m back in the saddle – I’m finishing off chapter 6 of And The […]

Murals, Belfast, 2016

““And it stoned me”“(Van Morrison, 1970) The title of my novel in progress is And The Buntings Flew. It’s a title I agonised over for a long time, so I’m not surprised when some people ask me, why does a self-confessed Grammar Prig have as the first word in the title of her first book, such a […]

“It had to mean something. And then I meant something, too. Yes, smaller than the smallest, I meant something, too. To God, there is no zero. I still exist!” (The Shrinking Man) I’m starting to flex my writing muscles now! As well as working on my novel, And The Buntings Flew, the past few months […]

I was introduced early on to the importance of names in literary fiction, being a young fan of Dickens – nearly all of Dickens’ character names feel relevant, even if we can’t place our feelings about some of them.  Compeyson, Magwitch, Pumblechook, Orlick – these names are all from one novel, Great Expectations. Other memorable […]

I‘ve created a taster PDF which I’m quite pleased with; it contains the synopsis and selected excerpts from chapter 1 of And The Buntings Flew. Please do have a read and let me know what you think and if you would like to read more excerpts; more importantly, if you would buy the book! And The […]

I was reading author J.F. Penn’s newsletter today (check out her excellent site by the way!) and discovered how she uses Pinterest  to great effect by having boards for her upcoming novels pinned with pictures which provide tantalising hints to readers of where the stories will take them! Without further ado I headed over to Pinterest, and […]

What a serendipitous find! Who were the Black Irish, and what is their story? – IrishCentral.com. I was browsing Irish Central the other day and came across this really interesting article on the source of the phrase “Black Irish” in relation to people of Irish ancestry with dark or tanned complexions, black hair and dark […]

For many years I’ve wanted and needed to write a story based on some of the things that happened in my childhood in Northern Ireland. These things either happened to me, to members of my family, or I was a (way too young) witness to some truly heart wrenching events. I’ve struggled with bringing this story into […]

It is 1975, and shy, thoughtful eight-year-old Purdey (short for Perdita) is a mongrel ….

NaNoWriMo is a fantastic concept for the budding novelist – the National Novel Writing Month which takes place annually in November saw more than 300,000 budding writers take up the challenge of writing a 50,000 novel in 30 days for the 2013 contest. I signed up in 2013, like so many others thinking this would […]

At work I may have many names unknown to me, but one I do know and revel in is “Excel Queen”. I just love spreadsheets; when used properly they have so many uses aside from bean counting and graphs. Excel permeates every aspect of my life, probably because I am a list person, chart your […]

I’ve written and publish a dozen or so non fiction (heath, well-being and spirituality) articles, but I decided a long time ago that I wanted to be a novelist. Wanting to be and getting on with it are very different things, and although I’ve been gathering material, carrying out research and messing about with names […]