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 🙂

bookcoverrecreated

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!

Playing Catch-Up: events, writer’s block & #amwriting

Unfortunately, I’ve fallen behind with my blog. So huge apologies to you all! It’s not that I’ve forgotten about you or the blog, it’s just that there have been lots of events to attend, proofs to complete, new freelance contracts to sign, 2018 festival pitches and other applications to complete, and new manuscripts to write. It all takes a lot of time, and when time gets tight, I reduce my online presence to keep everything ticking over as it should.

BookofRevengecoverThe good news is: The Book of Revenge – Nine Lives Trilogy 3 is completed. The proofs are done, gone, (almost) a distant memory. The final book in the Nine Lives Trilogy did not manage to kill me (as I feared it might around February earlier this year) and I’m super excited to see it on the shelves in 2018. The Dublin launch will be February 15th – more details to follow but save the date!

And so, that means I’m now out of contract. It’s simultaneously exciting and nerve wracking – who knows what will happen in the future? But right now, I’m enjoying working on the second drafts of two new manuscripts. No deadlines or pressure, except whatever I impose upon myself. I’m keeping a steady pace – maybe not as fast as I’d like – but I’m making progress and am being kind to myself. After all, four books published in two and a half years is pretty tough going so I think slowing it down now will have a positive impact further down the line.

Around all the proofing and writing, I had a fabulous time last month travelling around Ireland’s libraries for the Children’s Book Festival, meeting lots of young readers and writers. The ideas, the questions – fabulous! Often, I was working alone, but I also did some events with Alan Early and Caroline Busher. I love doing events so much but when you do several a day with lots of travel in-between, it can get tiring. So it’s really lovely to have wonderful friends you can work alongside to keep up the momentum and have a laugh with!

Myself and Caroline debuted our Things That Go Bump in the Night interactive storytelling event at the Glor theatre for Ennis libraries and it went down a storm. We had the best sound and light technician ever (thank you, Ian); it was a lot of work and slightly terrifying, but we had a ball. Now all we need to do is figure out how to take it on the road… any takers?

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After the show was over, I suggested to Caroline that I should be banned from having any more ideas for a while – especially if they’re completely new, a lot of work and take us well out of our comfort zone. And she agreed wholeheartedly. But then, we had some chats over a glass of wine by a fire and candlelight and guess what? Inspiration hit and we had another very exciting idea – it’s not fully formed yet, but it’s going to happen, so watch this space!

Speaking of too many ideas… yesterday, I was honoured to be one of the guest speakers at the fantastic Fiction at the Friary event in Cork city, organised by the impressive duo, Madeleine D’Arcy and Danielle McLaughlin. There was a great and enthusiastic crowd, and one of the questions asked was about writer’s block. Now, I’ve never had writer’s block (yet), I suffer from the opposite: too many ideas, and many of them terrible. So my issue is sifting through the nonsense in search of gems.

But I do find that stopping writing altogether makes it harder to start back up again. Writing is a muscle that needs to be continually flexed, so if you are suffering from writer’s block, I suggest writing something new. A short story or poem or piece of flash fiction perhaps. Step away from the current WIP and try to play. Let it be terrible or without purpose. Alternatively, take a long walk and record any thoughts/ideas on your mobile phone, then go home and type them up.

If all else fails, distract yourself with something completely unrelated, then trick yourself back to the desk to write something about whatever it was you chose to do. Break the habit of focusing on not writing and find yourself writing again.

Get moving. Writing anything. Gain momentum. Then write more. 

And now, it’s time for me sign off – I have to pack because I’m off to the Irish Book Awards tomorrow. I didn’t have a book out this year so I’m not nominated, but I’m delighted to have lots of friends shortlisted – I’ll be cheering loudly for them all – and I’m really looking forward to catching up with lots of friends.

Until next time… happy reading, happy writing x