Research and more research!



Some novels require an awful lot of research, and the one I am currently writing certainly falls into that category. The picture shows some of the books I’ve been referring to – might give a few indications of what the book’s about!

My work-in-progress is set around the time of the Irish war of independence, 1920-21. Back when I  was at school, we learned nothing about Irish history, despite the huge impact on everyday life the ‘Troubles’ had on us at that time.

I’ve been married to an Irishman for 25 years, so of course I’ve learned a lot about Ireland, its people and its history, over time. Even so, when I started writing this book I was a bit hazy on many of the details. These books, except the Constance Markievicz one, were all on our bookshelves at home and have been very useful. The Short History of Ireland gave a brief overview of the 1916 uprising, the war of independence and then the civil war that followed almost immediately after. The Story of the Irish Race was published in 1921 when the war was still raging, but was good for learning about the events of the previous centuries that led up to Ireland’s fight to break free of the UK. Great Irish Speeches contains a few from those years – which has helped me understand the Irish nationalist feelings of the time.

While researching I kept coming across the name Constance Markievicz, and at some point read the Wikipedia article on her. She’s a fascinating character, so I bought this book to learn more about her. She was born into Anglo-Irish aristocracy, dabbled as an artist and a theatre producer and actress, married a Polish Count, was a suffragette, set up the Fianna Eireann (kind of military boy scouts) and then became heavily involved in the Irish nationalist movement. She was in the thick of the fighting in the 1916 uprising, and arrested for it, escaping execution only because she was a woman. Quite an unstoppable force. I’m hugely enjoying this book which I’m reading from cover to cover, and it’s certainly inspiring my novel!


Welcome to 2018!


Happy New Year to all my blog readers and visitors! Hope you enjoyed whatever it was you did to welcome in the new year. We had a quiet night in with a bottle of wine and the Game of Thrones season 7 box set – just what we needed after a busy fortnight over Christmas.


At this time of year I always like to look back at last year’s resolutions, see how well I did, and make some more for the coming year. Posting them publicly means I am committed to achieving them!

Here’s what I wrote last year:

So, my 2017 goals are:

  • To make the most of the six months travelling
  • To come home part way through the trip so we can make it to our son’s graduation!
  • To complete the book I am currently working on
  • To be about 2/3 through the next book by the end of the year

How did I do?

Well I think we definitely made the most of the six months travelling in our motorhome. We left the UK 3 days after I stopped work and returned 3 days before I was due back at the day job. And yes we made it to our son’s graduation in July!

I completed the book I was writing – it will be published in August 2018.

I’m not quite 2/3 through the next one – that would be 60,000 words in and I have only written 50,000. But near enough for a tick, I think.


Time to think about what I would like to achieve in 2018.

Writing – complete a draft of the current novel and complete a draft of another one after that. It’s possible they’ll be published the other way round… who knows! Either way by the end of the year I’d like a completed book ready for publication in 2019.

Fitness and weight – I’ve let both go a bit lately. So I need to lose a few kilos and work on increasing my fitness level. We have a ski trip booked at the end of January and a Lake District walking trip at Easter so I’d best get going quickly with these! Actually I already restarted running in December having not run since March, so I’m already on the way.

I also want to make a start on sorting out some of the accumulated junk in this house. So I’ll make another resolutions to begin chipping away at it, probably beginning with the loft. Although maybe starting with the worst bit is not so very wise…

Season’s Greetings!


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I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! We had a lovely day with both sons home and my brother visiting. Lots to eat and drink and plenty of silly games.

I’ll let you into a tiny secret – I cooked Christmas dinner for the first time ever. 25 years ago I made the very wise decision to marry a good cook (not just for his cooking skills you understand!) and therefore have never had to do much in the kitchen other than clear up the not-inconsiderable mess he makes.

But this year we decided to do things differently, and so on Christmas morning our younger son and I cooked, while the other three went for a walk and to the pub. And dinner was amazing, though I say it myself.20171225_141816.jpg

Best present received? My dear husband bought me a Lego campervan, to remind me of our travels this year! I spent many happy hours on Boxing Day constructing it, with the help of two very jealous sons who have not quite grown out of Lego and probably never will.

A nice surprise this morning was to see that the ebook version of The Girl from Ballymor is on an Amazon UK promotion, selling at just 99p, and rising nicely up the charts as a result. Here’s the link if you want to grab yourself a post-Christmas bargain!


On the radio!



Way back in September, while I was away travelling in our motorhome, I recorded a radio interview with Talk Radio Europe, to promote The Girl from Ballymor. They’ve only just broadcast it, and for the next few days you can listen to it on the link below. Choose 15th November, time slot 19:00-20:00. My bit starts at 38 minutes, 40 seconds in.

It was an odd experience – I was in the motorhome somewhere in Portugal, with all the doors and windows closed despite the heat to keep background noise to a minimum, speaking on my mobile phone. A tractor kept driving back and forth through the campsite, but thankfully the interviewer, Hannah, confirmed she couldn’t hear it. I’d locked my husband outside – didn’t even want to LOOK at him while the interview was ongoing!

If I sound nervous it’s because I was, although Hannah put me at my ease and let me waffle on. I’d had some great advice from writer friends on Facebook about smiling as I spoke (comes through in your voice), trying to speak slower than normal, and standing up rather than sitting down. Actually I paced back and forth in the small space in the middle of the van!


A fellow writer made this lovely little promotional video for The Girl from Ballymor for me last week, but I have only just worked out how to embed it in a blog page. It’s truly lovely, haunting and atmospheric, and just right for the book. I love it!


Catching up


I arrived back home three days ago, after six months touring Europe in our motorhome. Yes, it was an amazing trip! We spent three months in Italy, a month in France, a month in Spain, and the rest of the time split between Croatia, Switzerland and Portugal with four days back in the UK in July to attend our son’s graduation.

Both our boys came out to visit us and spent a week each touring with us. We have been to some amazing places. Too much to try to cover here, but if you want to know more about the trip please take a look at our travel blog for all the details.


The Dolomites, one of my favourite parts of our trip

My plan was always to keep going with the writing while we travelled, and I did manage to do this though possibly not as much as I’d hoped. It took more time than I’d anticipated to keep the blog up to date and to plan ahead.

But here’s what I did manage to achieve writing-wise while on the road:

  • Two rounds of edits of my next novel. I had just finished a rough draft before we left which I printed out and took with me. Edited that, sent to my editor, re-edited it in line with her comments then sent on to my new editor (my previous one has moved on to a different imprint with HarperCollins and will be much missed)
  • Planned the novel after that, wrote a synopsis, wrote about 15,000 words.
  • Some promotion for my latest, The Girl from Ballymor, which came out in September.

Not bad for a mobile life! But now we are home I need to get going with all of it again. Promotion, editing and first-drafting – all need to be progressed. Oh, and I am back at the day job from tomorrow. There’s no rest… but no one feels sorry for me after my six-month holiday! Can’t think why!


Publication day!


At long last, publication day for The Girl from Ballymor has finally come around. It’s been a long wait this time, and I am longing to find out what people think of the book. Early reviews have bthe-girl-from-ballymor_highreseen good – the one I posted here last and then this lovely one by Pam Norfolk in the Lancashire Post. I have been quoting parts of that one to my husband continuously since reading it yesterday!

We are currently in our campervan on a cliff top on the Atlantic coast of Portugal. A pretty spectacular location ins which to celebrate publication! We have another 4 weeks travelling before we return home, and at last I will be able to hold a paperback copy of my book.

Meanwhile, on with the next book, or rather the book after next, which is also set in Ireland though in a different time period. I’m enjoying writing this new one very much.

First review!


So delighted to see this lovely first review for The Girl from Ballymor from Karen at GoBuyTheBook! There’s just over a week till publication, and it is always a nervy time wondering whether readers will like it. Karen’s enjoyed my previous books so I am delighted to find that she was not disappointed by this one either. To my mind, it’s my best yet. But different readers like different things – I have friends who prefer the emotion of The Pearl Locket over the twists and turns of The Daughters of Red Hill Hall, and other friends who have said the exact opposite.

The Girl from Ballymor is more on the emotional side, but I hope there are enough twists and turns to keep all readers happy!

7th September is release date. The book will be available in paperback as well as ebook, and should be stocked in Asda supermarkets as well as online.