Sunday, 16 April 2017


Ground art - Williamsburg Bridge

I really wanted to blog about my trip to New York and my dinner/talk with the fabulous docents from the Morgan Museum (about Emily Dickinson) but outrageously painful tonsils, and jetlag, have had me corpse-like since I got back from NY.

Docent dinner table

And I have proofs to finish (for Joyride to Jupiter), and Becoming Belle to re-write, and a flash paper to write for my upcoming trip to Roma. And I've my Cruinniú na Cásca gig tomorrow, and an Italian exam to study for and essay to complete. So everything is feeling a little overwhelming and full-on and time is not on my side. I worked on my proofs both yesterday and today, though I am sick and it's a bank holiday weekend. I've no choice. If I don't do it, it doesn't get done.

Books acquired in NYC

And this is one of the major drawbacks of being a writer and self-employed: the absolute impossibility for time off. NY was supposed to be a holiday, one that would incorporate a trip to the Morgan to see the Emily exhibition. Then my cousin-in-law, who works at the museum, asked if I would give a talk to her docent colleagues. I LOVE talking about Emily D so yes, I said YES. And we had a gorgeous dinner and they were erudite, funny, sweet people and it was enormous fun. But it was work and work gigs make me anxious and cranky until they are complete. So inevitably, during some of our holiday time, I was a bit wound up.

A trip highlight: the aerial tram across the river from Roosevelt Island

Also my agent and main editor are in NY, so naturally we arranged to have lunch. And we did and we yapped and laughed and made plans for next year's novel (June 2018) and we admired the cover for my forthcoming short story collection which my agent and I had just that morning signed-off on (reveal soon!). I love these people, we get along and we have great fun when we get together but, again, this is work-related stuff (no matter how jolly) and here I was, again, on holiday but allowing work to seep in.

McSorleys - the ale was delicious
I have this vision of a time where I do nothing but sleep, eat and read. Sleep. Eat. Read. It's a dream, a wish, something that can't be reached, I guess. I'm grateful for the life I have built and I'm not moaning about all the joy and privelege that writing brings but sometimes I would just love a day off. Just one day to call my own where I wouldn't do one thing that was work-related. Not one little thing. And, also, that I wouldn't feel guilty about it. Because this is the major problem - I can't seem to give myself a break. If I'm not working I feel guilty because time is so precious. I can't even have tonsillitis in peace :( (Or, I can't let myself...)

Liberty Island from Battery Park

Not wanting to end on a downer, I will apologise for the cheerless post and wish you a very Happy Easter. I hope you all got as much chocolate as I did :)

Friday, 31 March 2017


I broke the 100,000 word mark on my novel today. This is AMAZING to me. I write short. Short poems, short-short stories, all my novels are short. This one - Becoming Belle - was originally a lot shorter but I am on my third (!) re-write for my editors and that process has generated wordage. I keep looking at the word count thingumie at the bottom of the screen and thinking, No!! That's not possible. But here we are, and I have a new deadline of the 31st May, so the novel may get even longer. I'm channelling my inner Tolstoy, clearly. It's tough work, involved and brain-melting and, of course, joyful, in the way that re-working and writing new scenes always is.

So excuse this tumbleweedy blog. This novel re-write, work on my short story collection Joyride to Jupiter (out in June!), plus various trips to Dublin, Italy and, next week, New York, mean I am flat out. Add to that, end of year exams and an essay for the course I'm doing in NUI Galway and you can see why I have been AWOL. (Mountains to Sea was fab, btw - Paula Meehan, Vona Groarke and Geraldine Mitchell are poetry goddesses.)

Anyway, I really dropped by here to mention Cruinniú na Cásca and the event I am taking part in with Fionn Davenport, Mark Geary and Sasha Sykes, 'Experiencing Ireland as an Artist'. We will be in St George's Hall, Dublin Castle at 2pm on Easter Monday, 17th April. Admission is free but tickets must be reserved in advance. See here.

In the meantime I am away to Manhattan to commune with my beloved Emily Dickinson at the Morgan Museum. Can't wait!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Miscarriage essay

My article/essay, first published in the current Ogham Stone Literary Magazine, is up at the Irish Times website here.

Thursday, 16 February 2017


A month to the day since I last blogged. Good Lord, where does the time go? Spring has sprung, at least!

I had one deadline of 31st January (for novel #4, Becoming Belle) and now I'm on a deadline for my s/story collection, Joyride to Jupiter. So, between those two things, and much else, life has been hectic. But it's all good - New Island and I are discussing covers (such a joyful thing) for Joyride to Jupiter so the excitement for its June publication is building.

I'm also busily prepping for my masterclasses at the Irish Writers Centre (the course is sold out but there's a waiting list you can join.)

Meanwhile, I have a few events coming up:

 - I'll be reading at the launch of the Arlen House poetry anthology Washing Windows, 2pm Saturday the 4th March in Pearse Street Library, Dublin.

 - I'm giving a short story seminar in Florence, Italy on the 9th March at St Mark's Church at 2pm. And a reading that evening at the same venue at 6.30pm. More here.

 - I will be interviewing my friend, and fellow The Peers member, Alan McMonagle about his début novel Ithaca on Monday 13th March in Backstage Theatre, Longford at 8pm, as part of the book's launch night shenanigans.

 - I'm also giving a short story seminar at the Mountains to Sea festival in Dun Laoghaire on 25th March at 11am. More here.

 - Also at Mountains to Sea I am taking part in the Heroes reading event and I'll be talking about (surprise, surprise) Emily Dickinson. Event info here.

Monday, 16 January 2017


I love the renewal of January. It's my birth month so, unlike other people, I like the month; it makes me cheerful. And I've plenty to be cheerful about in my life, including the bookish side of it. So three bits of literary news:

My fifth short story collection, Joyride to Jupiter, will be published by New Island Books in June. Woot! Their sweet Tweet from yesterday:

Also, I have two brand new flash and an interview at US lit mag Connotation Press, thanks to new fiction editor Jonathan Cardew. Go here.

And, finally, I was interviewed by Laura Turner at Pageturnersnook here.

Enjoy your January, my dears x

Wednesday, 21 December 2016