#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!


The Nine Lives Trilogy, Snowmageddon, Autonomy & other updates…

IMG_4383It’s been a while since I posted and I apologise, though I’m guessing that with the crazily long winter and weird weather, everyone else has been just as busy. Between snowmageddon destroying pipes and trashing our car (engine seized – write off!), my MacBook finally dying (meaning new computer, programmes, the lot!), and the double book launch of The Book of Revenge – Nine Lives Trilogy 3, things have been hectic! So here’s a little update to get back on track…

I have a few articles/interviews/podcasts you might be interested in as part of The Book of Revenge blog tour…


Usually I’d be posting my vegetable garden updates around this time, but there’ll be none of that until end of April as my garden is not in a happy place. Unfortunately, the crazy snow also made World Book Day on March 1st a complete wipeout. I managed to do the first 2018 Biggest Book Show on Earth event with some great #kidlit people (Derek Landy, David Doherty, Chris Judge, Sarah Moore-Fitzgerald, Ger Siggins) and a day of workshops in a very friendly and creative Educate Together school, but other than that, everything was cancelled. I really felt for the Ennis Book Club Festival team – a big cheer goes out to them for handling the situation so well, especially after all the effort it takes to put such a great programme together.

I ended up trapped in Dublin during the snow so I didn’t even get to wander the deserted country roads or throw snowballs with my dog. Luckily, I have great friends who were willing to put me up, give me books, and drive me to the station when transport finally opened. How lucky am I? Friends are everything. Truly. 


Thankfully, I did manage to reschedule two fantastic WBD events in Hodges Figgis (celebrating 250 years in business in 2018!) and Dubray Books on Grafton St last week – so some of those pesky cancellations are back on track.


And I’m delighted to announce that I have an essay published in the Autonomy anthology from New Binary Press, a women-led collection of stories, poems, memoirs, essays, articles, screenplays and more, exploring what it means to have bodily autonomy. Some of my favourite Irish writers have also contributed, including Claire Hennessy, Elaine Feeney and Sinead Gleeson, so do go take a look – my essay is on the taboo subject of being a woman who doesn’t want children. I can’t wait to read the other pieces as I know they’re all going to be full of heart – and what more to do we want from any read?

And so… what next? Broken stuff and weather troubles have meant I’m way behind in my writing. ‘Behind’ meaning I’ve done nothing for weeks. It’s frustrating, but sometimes, you just have to let go and make the best of the situation. I have my health and a great life, and I knew the mess was only temporary. Now everything has been fixed or replaced, I am looking forward to returning to my writing. And seeing as I’ve been invited to be a three-week Writer in Residence just outside Carcassonne, I have nothing to complain about AT ALL. More on that soon…

In the meantime, happy reading, happy writing x


New writing, articles, interviews & events

The Book of Learning by E.R. MurrayIt’s been pretty busy over the last month, so here are a few bits you might have missed, and details of some upcoming events…

New Writing

I recently received my contributor’s copy of the beautifully produced ‘The Ogham Stone’ – if you get your hands on a copy, you can read my short story Landscape of Mirrors (print version only). They are also looking for contributions for their next publication. Details here (Nov 12th deadline).


I wrote an article for the bible that is the Writers & Artists handbook all about how to Stay Motivated and Write Your Book.

Also, my article in the Irish Times discusses how moving to Ireland drove me to become a writer.

Over on Girls Heart Books, I discuss the importance of finding your tribe.

And for writing.ie, I contributed an in-depth explanation of how The Book of Learning came to be – the What, When, Where, How, & Why.


I was delighted to feature in the Beginners Pluck column in the Irish Independent, which you can read on Sue Leonard’s website if you missed it in the paper.

The Looking Glass magazine got to grips with The Book of Learning with lots of questions about childhood reading, current influences, writing technique and what to expect next…

Over on Clockwatching, Sinead O’Hart let me pick my own movie cast and also looked at writing rituals and my next book, Caramel Hearts (March 2016)

The quirky Teens on Moon Lane 5-4-3-2-1 interview allowed me to rescue Jon Walter and Louise O’Neill from a burning bookcase, while taking Sarah Webb on a desert island…

Middle Grade Strikes Back looks at my journey to publication, literary characters to go on holiday with, and my writing day.

There have also been a few radio interviews; Brenda Drumm of KFMradio, also Sunshine Radio, and Barbara Scully’s The Hen House. I’ll add podcasts when I can!

Upcoming Events

I’ve had a wonderfully warm reception from schools and libraries in Castletownbere, Skibbereen, Schull and Bantry as part of the Children’s Book Festival; with Dunmanway and Clonakilty still to come.

I’ll probably dedicate a whole post to this on its own, but I’m really happy to announce a 3-hour Gothic Literature for Teens workshop in Ardagh, County Longford, at the end of this month as part of their Fright Fest – full details here!


homeless man given a kindle

What would you do? Beggars…



I was in Dublin recently and I found a five euro note on the floor & decided to pass it on to a young homeless couple.

As I was handing it over, a man grabbed my wrist and stopped me.

He asked, ‘Have you asked them what they’ll spend it on?’

I asked him why that should be any of my business.

The man said, ‘They might spend it on something they shouldn’t.’

I said I wasn’t giving them the money to play god.

He then waited around to ask me if they said thank you.

They did – but I explained that wasn’t why I gave the money to them and quickly got out of his way.

That’s why I think you should read this post… Beggars by Chicaderock.


#AuthorsForNepal – who wants a manuscript critique?

nepal-flag-300x214#AuthorsForNepal – set up by the wonderful @JCCWilliams – is raising money for those in immediate need, by offering various donations from authors, agents and publishers on ebay. There are critiques, signed books, illustrations, even writing retreats on offer… to help, you just need to share the news and bid for what you want.

I’m offering a critique/readers report (like those I do through  Inkwell Group) for a starting bid of £25 here. You can help your own writing and a good cause – and save yourself quite a few quid while you’re at it! There’s no time limit on the critique, so even if you haven’t finished your manuscript, you can bag yourself a critique for the future.

Some of the great items on offer include…

This should be enough to give you an idea of what you can bid for! They’ve reached the £5000 mark, but here’s hoping the money keeps rolling in. There are some definite bargains to be had… good luck!



Run for Plan to end child marriage

A Call to End Child Marriage

You may remember that I did a Because I am a Girl blog recently, for Plan Ireland; well today I received an email about their latest campaign (which included the shocking image I’ve added below), and I wanted to share this with you.

Plan Ireland is putting together a team for the Women’s Mini-marathon on 1st June. The team is running to “end child marriage.” Every day, 41,000 girls are married as child brides. Girls just like Sumnina (5) below from Nepal.

Run for Plan to end child marriage

Girls who are forced into early marriage miss out on education, are more prone to poverty and suffer complications during childbirth. Any proceeds raised will contribute towards Plan’s projects which aim to halt the global problem of child marriage.

Should you be interested you can visit www.plan.ie/minimarathon

Awards, articles, submissions…

Rather than always harping on about my own thoughts on writing, or my garden, or stuff I’ve been doing, I like to share interesting tidbits from others that I’ve found around the place. And the last couple of weeks has been particularly interesting so here’s a few of my findings…

Bord Gais Book Awards

Whyte Books - a cosy haven for readers and writers

Whyte Books – a cosy haven for readers and writers

It’s a week of celebration as I’ve just finished the first draft of a new novel, and I also found out the bookshop I work in has been nominated for Bord Gais Irish Bookshop of the Year after winning the Munster vote. So, here’s a massive well done to Sheila, the owner, brains and driving force behind the lovely bookshop that is Whyte Books.

Also linked to the Bord Gais Book Awards, did you hear about the new Writing.ie Short Story Award? Well if not (and I hope it’s not too late) – you have to vote! Read the six shortlisted stories over on writing.ie (six stories for free? It’s a gift!) and then support your favourite by voting on the Bord Gais website. Stories & details here.

Horror Fiction

Is anyone writing horror out there? I love horror fiction and although it competes with crime on a global scale as one of the top genres, I feel it’s still underrated and under-appreciated in the UK and Ireland. I’ve felt rather out on a limb with my attempts at literary horror fiction, but that’s probably because I didn’t know this place – the Horror Writers Association – existed! Thanks to Paul Fitzgerald, a fellow writing.ie blogger, I’ve now found a homely hub for my guilty pleasure! 

Publishing opportunities

Take a look at the exciting new journal, Spontaneity, a refreshing new arts journal that’s all about inspiration, (think future submissions inspired by those selected for publication in previous issues). The first issue has the theme of Age and Beauty – details here.

As writers, we’re always looking for new outlets whether it’s competitions, journals or publishing houses. So here’s a few that stand out: firstly (you’ll have to be quick to get this one in – deadline is Nov 15th), Susan Lanigan’s free-to-enter short fiction competition Walking on Thin Ice based around ‘mental illness, stigma and oppressive institutional power’.  It may be free but the judge is Dave Lordan and there are cash prizes.

Two presses that have caught my interest are erbacce press, a co-operative that makes sure all contributors receive royalties, with all money feeding back into publishing more writers, and Notting Hill Editions, the home of the essay that’s doing exciting things (it produced the gorgeous Deborah Levy Things I Don’t Want To Know essay in response to Orwell’s Why I Write). Go check them both out – they’re gorgeous.

Art meets literature

It seems that every time you think there are no more incredibly interesting ideas left to discover, some talented/forward thinking individual comes up with one! In case you haven’t heard, there’s a weird but probably very wonderful installation/project happening around the Liffey, with quotes from Joyce being washed into the grime of the river’s surrounding walls. Derek Flynn has the info here.

Writing motivation

And finally, here’s a lovely post, I am Good Enough, And So Are You by Susan Lanigan that’s bound to lift your writing spirits.

If you have any more articles, links or competitions you think should be shared, please add in the comments below! I only have a certain amount of time free for researching this kind of stuff (with most of my info through blog subscriptions, twitter, writing.ie and chatting in Whyte Books) – so I’d be delighted if you’d expand my horizons!

Photos of Bergamo, Italy

As you all know, I’m currently in Poland – a lovely part of the world, full of interesting heritage and traditions – and I’m building up lots of thoughts about the place to share with you upon my return.

However, for now, I’m busy catching up with a good friend so I thought I’d share some photos from another recent trip: Bergamo, in the gorgeous region of Lombardy. My husband and I rented an apartment in Bergamo new town, a short walk from the the old town, and spent a few days travelling by local train to Lake Como.

It was only a week’s visit, short and sweet, but we were inundated with such beauty, I had to share a few of our snaps. If you’ve been to Bergamo, I hope they bring back happy memories. Otherwise, simply enjoy.

Varenna, Lake Como

Turquoise waters of Varenna, our favourite Lake Como spot

beautiful Menaggio seas

Exploring Menaggio, Lake Como

Bergamo stunning church

Just one example of the beautiful churches here

Incredible Lake Como views

Snow-capped mountain backdrop, Lake Como

Varenna, Bergamo, Italy

Off the beaten track, we find an old watermill

Bergamo citta alta

Shady, towering streets of Bergamo old town

old city walls, bergamo

View from our favourite spot on the Old City walls, Bergamo

Writerly RoundUp – articles, tidbits & the bizarre

I’m busy editing the final draft of my novel and preparing for some time away – unplugged! – so I thought I’d bring you a round up of some interesting articles/tidbits that I found over the last week or so, to keep you busy in my absence.

I’m off to Bergamo, Italy, so I won’t be posting again until April 22nd. I hope you find something of interest here in the meantime…

  • For new bloggers, here’s some great advice on SEO from the Writing.ie crowd, covering how to start writing posts, using keywords effectively, an introduction to webmaster tools and more: Improving your Search Ranking: Tips for Bloggers.
  • I love the website Documentary Heaven and found this great film about a guy who really can – and does – make every day original through his creations. Just see how proud his wife looks in their specialist beach buggy! An Original Maker: Paul Elkin.
  • Now, I have no idea what this is all about but it certainly made me stop and chuckle, if nothing else! It’s called Old People Wearing Vegetation and it’s photos of old people wearing vegetation (yes, really)!
  • And finally, I couldn’t resist the guys at Funny Talking Animals. Who’s for a game of Night Time/ Day Time? 🙂

See you when I’m back!

Irish music shout out

Seeing as St Patrick’s Day has just passed, I thought I’d give a shout out to Irish music and musicians.

Living in rural Ireland, I’m embroiled in Irish music on a regular basis, especially since my husband is a singer/songwriter/balladeer (he’s just getting into the online thing. You can see his facebook page here). But even without his influence, West Cork has retained its Irish musical roots to such a degree that I’m constantly treated to some form of storytelling through song.

It seems everyone here can sing; at least, everyone is willing to belt out a favourite tune at the drop of a hat. Believe me, never have I felt my ‘Englishness’ so much as when the microphone/guitar/banjo is passed my way and I quietly, but firmly, decline. (Singing is an art form I haven’t mastered, so I’ll stick to my notebooks. It’s better for everyone all round.)

If you love Irish music, there’s a great site called Irish Music Forever that shares quality Irish tunes past and present, while Derek Flynn updates his Rant, with Occasional Music blog every Monday with a new song recording; a mixture of his own tunes and covers/mash ups. He even takes requests.

And as a St Patrick’s treat, here’s a little something for you to enjoy: my husband singing his song “Wrapped Up” with incredible vocalist Camilla Griehsel (soon to be starring in an operatic production at Cork opera House).