Tuesday, August 24, 2010


My first published article comes out in Writers' Forum on Thursday. On the cover is my fab writer friend, Keris Stainton, who graciously agreed to be interviewed for the article on self promotion for the debut author. Keris recently published Della Says: OMG!

It's taken me 30+ years to get something published and along the way I've certainly been distracted. My journey to publication has been an overland route. The fact that it's taken so long doesn't bother me as I've made peace with the fact that I'm a late bloomer -with everything.

A girl never forgets her first time, and I certainly won't forget this. On the way to work today, I heard the song, Walking on Sunshine, and yes, that's exactly how I felt.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

It was a roundabout way that I came to read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I had followed its meteoric rise in the charts and watched it and its sequels, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest and The Girl Who Played With Fire get planted on just about every bestseller list on the planet. But I tend to hang back and watch and wait with these type of books if only to let the furor die down. I did that with both the Harry Potter and Twilight series, probably being one of the last people on earth to read those ones as well.
Actually it was the back story that intrigued me and hooked me into buying this book and reading it.
The author, Stieg Larsson, was a Swedish journalist who wrote all three books under the umbrella of the Millennium Trilogy. According to rumor, he wrote these books for the sheer pleasure it gave him and did not show it to a publisher until all three were completed. In 2004, he died of a heart attack at the age of 50 and didn't live long enough to see his work published. He died intestate, so all the earnings go to his father and brother and not his long time partner.
'Nuff said.
Now onto our story.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is literary crime fiction at its best, in the same vein as Elizabeth George and PD James.
This gripping page turner centers around two people. First there's Mikhael Blomkvist, a journalist who, when the story opens, is convicted of libel against a businessman involved in a supposed arms deal. While waiting to serve his prison sentence of a few months, he agrees- very reluctantly to delve into the mystery of Harriet Vanger- who disappeared decades earlier- at the request of her uncle, a wealthy businessman, Henrik Vanger.
Mikhael doesn't hold out much hope and it takes him the better part of a year to sort through the muck of the mystery.
Helping him is the mysterious Lisbeth Salander, kind of an adult Pippi Longstocking with tattoos. Lisbeth is an expert computer hacker and works freelance for a security company. Her own background and persona are mired in their own mysteries. She's one of the most complex characters you'll ever meet. No description that I could give could do her justice. You have to read about her and discover her for yourself.
It's set on Hedestat island where the winters are cold and bleak. I loved the feel of the book- it had a crime noir feel the same way that a Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler novel might have.
I only had two small nitpicks with it.
First, Lisbeth being a computer hacker involved some passages that covered a lot of technical jargon which at times caused my eyes to glaze over.
Second, Mikhael an unassuming middle aged man seems to bed every woman he meets and I found that a little annoying. Considering the amount of female characters in the book, his success rate was practically 100%.
But those are small things. And truth be told, I couldn't put the book down and I can't wait to read the two sequels.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Guest Blogger: Clodagh Murphy

Clodagh Murphy, author of The Disengagement Ring and Girl In A Spin, has graciously agreed to do a guest blog today. She tells us about the novel that she's currently working on and even provides an excerpt of it for the first time. I'm so excited my feet are barely touching the ground. Read on:

The initial spark for this novel came from a house I saw when I was out walking – a big detached pink house with a green gate. I fell in love with it, and since I couldn't buy it myself, I decided I'd let one of my characters live there – much cheaper, and the moving is effortless!
So that's where Romy lives. She sort of grew from thinking about who would live in this house, and she was one of those characters who came fully formed. However, I had no idea what her story was when I started writing this novel during National Novel Writing Month (NaNo).
As NaNo happens in November, I guess it's no surprise that the first scene that popped into my head when I started writing on November 1 was a Halloween party. What was a surprise – a big one – was that next thing I knew Romy was having a close encounter of the sexual kind with a stranger dressed as Darth Vader. I knew that was totally out of character for her, so I had to decide whether I should discard it as a bit of NaNo madness or give her a reason for behaving so recklessly. The idea of Darth had taken hold, though, so he had to stay.
The fact that Romy is a property developer got me thinking about the recession and how it affects people's lives. Around the time I started writing this, I'd read an article about people who had lost their jobs and had to move back home. Some had reverted to living like teenagers, relying on their parents for everything while they went out every night and enjoyed themselves. It seemed like a situation with a lot of interesting possibilities and that's where the idea for Kit's story came from. Kit is based on a celebrity crush, as is his brother Rob – but I won't say who because one woman's meat is another woman's wet lettuce.
I don't do much planning, so the story and characters are still evolving as I write. But here’s the story so far ...

Romy Fitzgerald’s son, Luke was conceived last Halloween when Romy had an encounter in a cupboard with a stranger dressed as Darth Vader.
Now, one year after the fateful Halloween party, she is no closer to discovering the identity of Luke's father, and she is ready to give up the search. It has got her nowhere and she needs to move on. Her professional life is in a holding pattern too. As a property developer, she made enough money during the boom years to enable her to ride out the recession living on rental income, but she misses the buzz of developing.
So when her first ever boyfriend, Kit suddenly turns up at her door with a proposition, she thinks it might be just what she needs to shake things up. Joined at the mouth in their teens, Kit and Romy spent their days snogging and their nights snogging some more. But when school ended, Kit emigrated to America, and Romy hasn't seen him since.
Now he has lost everything in the recession – his job as a trader on Wall Street, his trophy girlfriend and his New York lifestyle. He has been forced to return home to Ireland and move in with his parents, and he wants Romy's help in putting his life back together. She is only too happy to throw herself into helping him renovate the dilapidated mansion in the country he has inherited, which he's hoping will help him get back on his feet.
As they spend time together, Romy begins to wonder if she got it right first time all those years ago, and Kit is the one for her. They used to love each other – maybe they can again. But she's getting mixed signals from him – and why is he so secretive about his life in New York?
As she finds herself seeing more of his ramshackle house than she does of Kit, Romy starts to wonder if he's only interested in her skills as a developer. And when his little brother, Rob, is roped in to help it only adds to her confusion. She remembers Rob as a sweet kid, but he's all grown up now and hotter than coffee from a polystyrene cup. Maybe a fling with a younger man is just what she needs. But isn't it wrong to be thinking that way about someone who used to be twelve?

If she just lets go and follows her heart, where will it lead her?

[Ian is Romy’s brother]

She knew Ian had always assumed that she knew who Luke's father was, and was keeping it a secret because he was married or just didn't want to know. Finally one night, feeling a little drunk and very much in need of an ally, she confessed all. She told him about the Halloween party, Darth Vader, the cupboard – everything.
'So, what you're saying is, Luke's father is ... Darth Vader?'
'Yes.' She glanced at him warily, bracing herself for his response. To her amazement a big grin spread across his face.
'Cool!' he breathed.
She laughed in relief. 'Well, that wasn't the reaction I was expecting.'
'So that was why you were always asking about him. I wish you'd told me this sooner.'
'What difference would it make? We've already asked everyone we know who as at the party. No one knew who he was.'
Ian sighed. 'Let's go over it again. What do we know about him?'
Romy shrugged helplessly. 'He was tall,' she said eventually.
'Okay, good,' Ian nodded encouragingly. 'And he likes Star Wars, we know that.'
'I suppose.' Romy bit her lip. 'But he might not. I mean, what if that was the only costume he could get?'
'Okay, tall and possibly likes Star Wars. Anything else?'
'Um ... I think he might be asthmatic.'
'Really? What makes you think that?'
'Well ... he was breathing really heavily the whole time – sort of wheezing.'
'Romy,' Ian said, smiling pityingly, 'you were having it off.'
'You know I hate that expression.' She frowned.
'Okay, you were ... making love, whatever.' Ian sniggered. 'You were making love in a wardrobe with a guy you couldn't pick out in a crowd –'
'Oh, shut up!' She grabbed a cushion and swatted him with it.
He laughed more, raising his hands to defend himself. 'Okay, okay. But y'know, everyone breathes deeply when they're in the throes. Plus you were in a wardrobe – it was probably pretty stuffy in there. And on top of all that he was wearing a mask.'
'Yeah, I know. I'm just clutching at straws.'
'And he might have just been getting into character – you know, if he thought the Vader thing turned you on. Did he say anything?'
'Ugh! I'm not giving you details.'
'I don't want details, thank you very much. I just mean, did he say anything to make you think he was trying to fulfil your Darth Vader fantasies?'
'Like what?'
'Like, "can you feel the force, baby?" he boomed in a Vader-like voice. "Get a load of my light sabre". Ian collapsed in giggles. Romy looked at him crossly.
'Sorry, sorry,' he said, trying to rein in his grin.
'If you're not going to take this seriously –'
'I am, honest. Sorry.' He reached out to her and pulled against him and she laid her head on his shoulder.
'I just think he should know he has a child, whoever he is,' she said. 'And Luke should have a chance to know who his father is.'
'Well, there has to be some way of tracking him down. We just have to be more creative.'
Ian was silent for a while, thinking. 'We could hold a DNA party!' he said finally, shaking her off and sitting forward.
'A what?'
'A DNA party. We throw a party, right, and then we keep a glass or something that everyone's touched, so we have their DNA. We'll get a load of freezer bags and mark who each glass belongs to. Then we send them all to the lab –'
'What lab?'
'You know – the lab. The DNA testing lab. You've seen Sea of Love, right? They did that. They went on dates with all these women and –
'They were cops. They had access to a lab.'
'Well, there are places that do DNA testing, aren't there? What about all those skanks who don’t get onto the telly? They must have somewhere to go to find out who the father of their baby is if they don't get picked for Jeremy Kyle.'
'And what kind of skank would I look like, turning up at the baby-father clinic with a hundred-odd DNA samples? Even those ones on the telly usually have it narrowed down to three or four suspects. Anyway, you can't collect people's DNA without their permission.'
Ian flopped back against the sofa defeatedly. 'Well, maybe he'll start to look like his father.'
'Big helmet?' Romy said, her lips twitching.
'Big helmet, mouth breather. Seriously, though, maybe he'll turn into a dead ringer for someone we know.'
'You know, sometimes he does almost remind me of someone. But I can't put my finger on who it is.'
'Mr Potato Head.'
'Mr Potato Head – that's who he reminds you of. I've often thought that myself.'
'My son does not look like Mr Potato Head.'
'Hey, calm down. I'm talking about if you do the button nose and don't use the moustache.'
'He still doesn't look like Mr Potato Head, okay? Anyway, it definitely wasn’t Mr Potato Head. This guy was much taller. And less ... potatoey.'
Ian sighed heavily. 'I guess we're back to square one then.'

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My New, Old WIP (Work in Progress)

As you can see by my wordometer on the left hand side of the blog, I'm no longer working on A Blast From The Past - that's been put away for future use.
Instead I'm working on WIP- work in progress as it is yet untitled. I call it my newest, old WIP, as this is my 3rd attempt to write a paranormal YA.
This story came to me in an idea in February 2009 as I stood outside staring at a cloud- I know, what can I say? During that year, I wrote 2 different drafts of the same story and each stalled out around the 30k-40k mark. I knew the characters and basically what I wanted to write but I could see no end in sight and worse, I had no plot. I shelved it for a while and moved onto something else.
Fast forward to July 2010 and after a rough personal year, I'm finally separated from my husband and living on my own with the boys. I also have some spare time. The idea of the paranormal YA came back to me with a vengeance- well, the characters had never really left my head- but all of the sudden all these ideas for it kept popping up out of nowhere, when I'd least expect it. I had no other choice but to sit down and write it.
On July 7, I started writing the 3rd attempt, with an aim of 5k words per week with the week ending every Sunday. As of today, I'm just shy of 25k.
There is one thing that is different this time, than the previous 2 attempts. I'm writing it in longhand. For whatever reason, this works for me. There's something about the physical act of writing- pen to paper- that propels me forward. Looking back, I realized that 2 previous manuscripts that I wrote- one mystery, the other chick lit- were initially written in longhand. In the end, both were completed and sent onto agents. So, I'll stick with what works.
I'm curious: does anyone else write any of their drafts in longhand or do you sit right down at the keyboard?
One thing is certain: I'm happy to be writing again.