Spinning plates: keeping my words moving

spinning plates

They say that women are great multi-taskers, and whoever ‘they’ are, I tend to agree (this, from a woman who is writing a blog post, while listening to the sounds of washing machine, dishwasher and bread maker whirring away, while encouraging children to colour inside the lines and repeatedly getting up to let the cat in/out and answer the door to friends asking if the boys are coming out to play).

But, that said, I think there is also a strong argument for the case that writers are even better multi-taskers. When we see an author signing their new book, we probably forget that they actually wrote the book over a year ago and will be returning home that evening to finish edits on the next one – and may also have started researching  or writing the one after that.  And that’s just the writing part of being a writer. It is most definitely a case of keeping those literary plates  spinning.

Take, for example, my current writing/plate-spinning, status.

1. I am currently working with a designer to complete the back page and spine of what will soon become a paperback edition of The Girl Who Came Home. This is both an exciting and daunting prospect and occupies a lot of my attention. Once the covers are finished, I will be back to the Createspace website to upload all my files and order a proof copy of the book before making it officially available on Amazon (and hopefully in a few bookshops too).

2. I am currently trying to claim my tax back from the US for sales of my Kindle book. This is causing me a ginormous headache and reminds me to emphasise how self-publishing is most definitely NOT the easy option next time I’m talking about it on a panel somewhere.

3. I am always looking for opportunities to promote (albeit subtly and gently) The Girl Who Came Home on Kindle – which is actually being showcased in Amazon’s ‘Romance Daily Deal’ this Sunday. Huzzah! This will involve plenty of social media razzamatazz (and all on a day when I will actually be at a christening).

4. I am currently waiting to hear from publishers who are reading my second novel. This involves lots of hitting of the ‘Refresh’ button on my email Inbox, checking two phones for potentially missed voice mails and keeping friends and family members updated on my ‘no further news’ progress.

5. I am also waiting to hear from an agent who is reading my second novel, with a view to representation if they like it. See above for hitting ‘Refresh’ button etc.

6. I am currently writing research notes and first ideas for a new book which is set during the period of the English Civil War. This is a completely new period of history for me so I have been researching which research books to use, ordering those books from the local library and Amazon and reading those books when they arrive. It’s an amazing period of history and entire days could easily be lost to reading about it.

7. I am also busy interviewing authors who have already got to that heady place I so long to be (i.e. in bookshops and with fab reviews in the broadsheets) and writing up feature interviews and reviews for other websites I write for.

8. (Not entirely writing related, but it all has an impact) I am supposed to be making Toad in the Hole for tea but I need to pop out to the shops to get eggs but I have to wait for Nana and Grandad to arrive (they are babysitting tonight) before I can leave the house because the boys don’t want to pop to the shops because they are ‘busy’ and I can’t leave them in the house on their own (can I?).

9. I am then going to the cinema to forget all about writing and watch Tom Cruise fly around a deserted planet earth in a futuristic space machine. It may even plant the seed for another book (although I suspect not).

10. Then I am going to collapse in a heap in bed, only to wake in the middle of the night to jot down a great plot idea for the new book which has chosen a rather inconvenient time to pop into my weary head.

So, yes, writers tend to have a lot of things on the go at once. This is a life which seems to come with plenty of uncertainty and more than the occasional wobble, but I wouldn’t swap if for the world and will endeavour to keep  those plates spinning as long as I possibly can.


Titanic II – fact, not fiction

titanic II new york

I am clearly very interested in all things Titanic and when I learnt, earlier this year, that the plans of Australian businessman, Clive Palmer, to build Titanic II really were serious, I had to find out more.

With so much historical interest and deep human emotion attached to Titanic, it is inevitable that any proposal to build a Titanic II would always court more than its fair share of controversy. Two distinct camps seem to be forming already: those who are very excited by the prospect of not only seeing Titanic re-built, but sailing on the maiden voyage in 2016 which will follow the same route as Titanic did in April, 1912, and those who think this is an insensitive, ill-judged scheme. But as you look into this further, and as time moves on, it seems quite clear that Titanic II is far more than a pipe-dream of a businessman with money to burn. This is actually  happening; like it or not.

Having recently made contact with Helen Benziger, the great-granddaughter of Margaret ‘The Unsinkable Molly’ Brown, it is fascinating to get the reaction to the project from someone so close to the Titanic.  Ms Benziger, is looking forward to completing her great-grandmother’s voyage on Titanic II.

I have a feature in today’s Irish Examiner which provides more background and comment to this compelling topic. As you read this, it is certainly worth remembering that this day, 101 years ago, the Carpathia had only just arrived in New York with the Titanic survivors.

titanic headline


Ice people: a tribute to the Titanic victims


As we move towards the 101st anniversary of the sinking of Titanic on 15th April, I think this is one of the most moving tributes I have seen.

Last October, Brazilian artist, Nele Azevedo, placed 1,517 small ice sculptures of people on the steps of Custom House Square in Belfast: one ice person for each of the men, women and children who lost their lives that tragic night. The gathered crowds then watched as each ice person slowly melted and disappeared.


A report of the event can be read on the BBC News website but I think the images really speak for themselves.