Podcast Time with Moli – Museum of Literature Ireland

Podcast time! This was such a fun project to be involved with – I was invited by MoLi – Museum of Literature Ireland… to talk about my favourite subject – writing. Interviewer, Lily Cahill, was such a toughie*!

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In this episode of the NovelTeens podcast, our host Lily Cahill chats to E.R. Murray about exploration, empathy and asks, ‘What’s wrong with dreaming?’”


NovelTeens is a podcast for young people about words, creativity and inspiration brought to you by MoLI. In this series, we will be asking authors deep-dive questions on how they became writers, their writing process, and generally picking their brains.

You can hear the podcast here!


*Lily is adorable. Enjoy! 🙂


The Many Voices of Childhood (workshop)

So, just in case you’re looking for some inspiration for your writing… next week, I’m co-teaching a 2.5 hour workshop on The Many Voices of Childhood with Dr Tawnya Renelle. I first came across Tawnya through a friend on twitter and her workshops have kept me sane and on track during lockdown – she’s an incredible facilitator and writer, and so I’m delighted to be collaborating with her.

This is a pay-what-you-can workshop, it’s suitable for those writing for children or for adults (memoir/fiction) and it’s really writing intensive – so if you need a kick start, some focus, and an evening of like-minded people, then you can sign up here.

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Hope to see you there!

Plodding on in 2021

So, we’re all struggling with the way things have changed during Covid, but we’re all still plodding on. I hope you are all doing OK and that you’re managing to find creativity and stimulation in your lives. It’s not easy, I know, but keep going. That’s all we can do. And don’t lose hope.

It was World Book Day yesterday and I was delighted to be busy with online school events. I was also super excited to be included in a wonderful list of Let’s Travel In Time book recommendations by author, Lindsay F Sedgwick, and to see that avid reader, Olivia (Middlesbrough, UK), made a replica of my Caramel Hearts book cover – in cake! Isn’t it marvellous?!

So, what have I been working on during these strange days, and why have I been so quiet? I currently have three books out on submission, and I’m in the process of finishing a fourth. This is a novel for an adult readership, and it is helping to keep me focused. Though I must say, my attention span has shortened during the pandemic and I’m having to work in shorter bursts, so progress is slower than I had hoped. But I’m feeling grateful for having something to focus on.

I’m also feeling grateful for the support of my fantastic agent, Sallyanne Sweeney, and all my writer friends, but especially Nicola Pierce, Caroline Busher, and Kieran Fanning, who help steady the writerly ocean when it feels too choppy. Plus, the longer days, deer sightings, long woodland walks, Atlantic swells, hot baths and scented candles are helping the days pass productively, so the finishing line is finally growing closer.

I had intended to blog more frequently this year, but I seem to be on screens way too much with zoom meetings, events, teaching, and chats with friends, but you’ll see I’m starting to update my website, such as my events page (there’s a lot more to come – watch this space!). My website needs a big overhaul but the template changes in WordPress feel a bit overwhelming right now and so I’ll keep it basic until I have the energy to fall down that rabbit hole!

And now… back to the WIP. I guess I just wanted to check in and say hi and give a big hug of encouragement to everyone who’s maybe not feeling that great, but continues to hang in there and doing their best.

Your best is good enough. You’re good enough. Keep going, and don’t lose hope. x

Writing podcast…See you in 2021!

It’s been a long a tiring year and challenging in many ways, but there’s still been plenty to celebrate and enjoy. I’ve enjoyed being productive in terms of both writing and online events, and I’m ending the year feeling relatively upbeat and positive about opportunities to come. But like most, I’m ready for a break and I’m shutting down now to rest and gather some energy, ready for the new year, when I’ll be overhauling my website and reopening for bookings for workshops, mentoring, panels, and reader reports. Watch this space!

In the meantime, I have a little something to leave you with; I’m honoured to be part of this wonderful series (9 podcasts in total) alongside an amazing line-up of writers. Hopefully, it’ll be something lovely for you to listen to through the wintry months.

https://open.spotify.com/episode/2JoUuomYCBKULISa1EqGsa

Have a gentle, restful Christmas all and see you in 2021!

(This little guy actually landed on my head! Has to be a good omen 🙂 xxx

New poem on Not Very Quiet Journal

I have a new poem, Gaslit, published over on Not Very Quiet. This is probably my favourite poem that I’ve written for a while, and so I hope you enjoy it. 

I struggle to call myself a poet as I find longer form and non-fiction more comfortable, and therefore, I’m more confident in those areas, but this is the second poem I’ve had published this year and it definitely feels like poetry has returned in importance in my life – so thank you for sharing this journey. 

There have been some amazing online opportunities during these strange times, and among them for me was the opportunity to attend the launch of Not Very Quiet #7 held in Australia and online. The launch was a glorious mixture of attendees in the usual launch venue, as well as people zooming in from all around the world on a big screen. 

We heard a fantastic keynote speech from guest editor, Anne Casey, as well as some of her striking poetry. Six readers from the new memoir-themed issue followed, each so different, despite the common theme. It was a wonderful celebration of poetry, and wonderful to be part of it. There’s so much amazing stuff in the latest issue of Not Very Quiet – I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have. 

Freedom – a new poem on HCE Review

I’m delighted to have my poem, Freedom, published over on HCE Magazine.

hce_BLACK_logo_ants_webI fell in love with writing as a young child because of poetry, and over the years, long form has taken over – mainly due to the ideas I’ve had and contracts signed. But over the last year, or so I’ve been dabbling again with my first love.

There’s a misconception that because poetry is shorter, it’s easier. It’s not. It’s just different. Poems usually don’t take me as long time wise (a book is typically a year or two), but I put the same level of care and heart into any poem, flash, short story and essay that I write and so any publication is a joy.

It’s also a validation. Writing takes place behind closed doors, journeying within our own minds. The process is as loaded with self criticism, false starts and mistakes as it is with exploration, play, and inspiration. Sharing work can be terrifying, and it’s not always easy – all writers feel more confident in some areas than others. But we write because we feel compelled, and because we love to read. And so sharing work is an element that we often love and fear in equal measure.

So here goes… You can read Freedom on HCE Review by following this link. Hope you enjoy it!

And if you’ve had something published on an online journal recently, drop it in the comments so I can have a read 🙂

Kids getting creative during Covid!

I’ve seen lots of incredible creative work online from kids doing the Covid lockdown, and I wanted to share a couple of brilliant pieces sent to me over the last few weeks.

Firstly, a school in Swords (which I had the pleasure of visiting in 2018) asked their pupils to recreate their favourite book cover – look at this fantastic response by Maedbh of Swords! Isn’t it amazing? I’m really blown away by it. It captures the book cover style and tone brilliantly! Well done Maedbh 🙂

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And secondly, myself and fellow author, Alan Early, were stuck in a broken time machine and we needed help from you; the task, to create a new time machine from the following items: a stuffed two-headed duck, a slipper, a pencil, a caged spike ball, a rose, and some shiny sunglasses. Look at this beauty by Aurora of Lusk that got us home… Everything we need including a gym, fridge & bookshelf, & used all 6 items. #GoAurora 🙂

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#MGieChat is back! Let’s talk kidlit :)

So, the world feels very weird right now and I’m proud to see so many people stepping up to spread positivity, support, and kindness. If we all follow the guidelines and mind ourselves and each other, then we’ll get through this.

A small gesture on my part is that I’m reviving #MGieChat – a space on twitter where children’s writers can come together and share some ideas, some solidarity, and support each other.

My Post

How it works is: I’ll be posting questions labelled eg Q1, Q2, and you respond to those questions with labelled answers, eg A1, A2 and include the #MGieChat hashtag in the tweet so everyone can follow your contribution.

It ends up fast, and fun, with lots of side conversations. Your fingers will feel on fire, but I promise, it’ll add some cheer to your day!

I’m going to be doing four weekly sessions during the current lockdown – March 24, 31, April 7, and 14. Tonight is a general chat to check in on everyone after recent events, and the next three chats will be themed.

#MGieChat is starting tonight, from 7.30pm until 8.30pm, and everyone’s welcome. Just sign into twitter and use the hashtag to follow the conversations and join in.

Hope to see you there!

2019… A round-up of gratitude!

Like most writers I know, I usually begin a new year with a round-up of the previous, but I actively reduced my time on social media in 2019 to try and recoup some writing time, and so I’m so far behind, I think I’ll just skip to some gratitude.

As 2020 starts with a whisper – swans at the pier and fishermen bringing in their catch, gentle weather, new books to read, unexpected blooms on wintry walks, live music and dog snuggles – I know I have a lot to be thankful for.

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First up: people.

No (wo)man is an island

We don’t always acknowledge how much we need and value the input of others, but I think for writers in particular, social interaction is vitally important and something we need to remember to nurture.

I’m on the road a lot for events (I was away from home for more than 5 months in 2019, but this made up a sizeable portion of my income) and I spend far too much time alone. This past year was particularly hard in that respect, so the people around me have meant more than ever.

So, to my incredible husband, friends near and far, my patient agent Sallyanne Sweeney, writerly friends I turn to for an ear/advice (special shout out to Claire Hennessy, Caroline Busher & Kieran Fanning), my readers, penpals, and everyone else who has inspired me and made my journey/time pass smoothly – thank you. Your input has been invaluable and appreciated.

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Timeleaps, Words Allowed, and a Storytime Express

Many exciting event opportunities came my way in 2019, from the grand finale quiz of Battle of the Book, to a storytelling event on a vintage train (thanks to CBI and An Post), hundreds of events in schools and libraries around Ireland, specialist training for inclusive arts events, READON teen conference panels and writing workshops, plus a week-long tour in Germany for Marburger Lesefest. It was a non-stop whirlwind.

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I love events and there’s nothing better than getting in front of your audience for reminding yourself why you write and untangling yourself from the sometimes-stressful business side of things. So, thank you to everyone who invited me, worked with me (especially co-tutors Alan Early and Dave Lordan), and supported me in bringing my/our events to young audiences.

Pen and Ink and Bum Glue

In terms of writing, I didn’t have any books published this year, and being out of contract has felt fine – I was expecting it to be much harder. But thanks to the reduction in social media, I was pleasantly productive, with two new novels both completed as far as draft 4, plus I had several essays and short stories published in some fantastic magazines and journals including; Banshee, Popshots, Terrain, and Tiny Essays. I also got to co-write a fairy tale with Caroline Busher (currently seeking a home).

These seemingly small victories are actually huge – receiving positive reactions from publications you admire is a boost that helps to;

  • stay on the writing path with integrity and joy
  • counteract the many, many rejections received

Because let’s face it, if the writing isn’t joyful, why bother? Thankfully, this year’s writing has brought me a lot of joy.

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A Room of One’s Own

Other highlights in 2019 included residencies in Costa Rica (1 month) and Portugal (3 weeks). Both provided plenty of physical space and headspace to go deep into my novels, as well as progress some shorter pieces. The rest of the donkey work was completed throughout 2019 on trains or planes and in hotel rooms between events/freelancing deadlines (and at often ridiculous hours), but the residencies were key to planning, structuring, and intense productivity, that enabled the rest to happen organically. So, huge thanks to Mauser Eco House and Foundation Obras Art Residency for their generosity of space and time.

An Interlude

Before I talk about what’s next, I want to pause to say this…

In case the above seems all too sparkly or glamourous or ‘lucky’, at times in 2019, I felt far too lonely. I also felt overworked and underwhelmed and for the first time ever, my health suffered a little. My energy levels a little more. But I had a fantastic year overall and there was nothing I couldn’t deal with and nothing I can’t learn from and change to improve the year ahead.

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My outlook is this: We all create our own opportunities and work ethic, we all use our time in the way we choose, and we all have to make decisions based on our personal lives. Sometimes those decisions are hard, and sometimes it can feel like an uphill struggle or hectic or failure. But perspective is key.

My year was hectic, but it doesn’t mean that if you’re doing more/less/things completely different, you’re more/less/doing things wrongly. There are no rules – especially in creative professions –  only lives to live and lessons to learn and choices to be made.

My advice is this: compare only to yourself and your own parameters. Your own perspective is what matters.

What Next?

In truth, who knows? I’m trying to be a little more open and a little less planned this year. Writing wise, I aim to finish both of my WIP novels, as well as an essay collection, ready for submission. There will definitely be more events with young readers. Plus, a week at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre (courtesy of CBI) and a return to Portugal in June.

But above all – more people and gratitude.

What do you want more of in 2020?

 

New Writing By E.R. Murray on Tiny Essays

I’m really excited about having this new non-fiction piece: I Think of Grief as a Dying Star published over on Tiny Essays.

Since the site came to my attention (thanks to awesome writerly human, Claire Hennessy) I’ve been really enjoying the bite-sized non-fiction pieces. So much so, that I specifically began this piece with the website in mind, which is something I rarely do.

I Think of Grief as a Dying Star is a mini essay that I wrote (from idea to multiple drafts to finished piece) while on residency at Mauser Eco House in Costa Rica.

I like to try and complete one fresh piece of work while on a residency, that reminds me specifically of that time and space. I’d been itching to write about grief for a while, and there was something about the jungle sounds at night and the wide, dark Costa Rican skies that set this piece in motion.

I hope you like the piece and show Tiny Essays lots of support! And if you want to see more photos of my time at Mauser Eco House, you can check out my Instagram page.