Writing for Young People at Cuirt, Galway

If you’ve always wanted to write for young people (children or young adults) and you’re in or near Galway, then come and join me on Thursday as part of the Cuirt festival to learn more about what being a children’s author entails. You’ll be in a supportive environment, with like minds, and I promise plenty of fun as well as info!

Here’s the blurb and you can find out more/book tickets here.

Writing-for-Young-People-with-ER-Murray

Join award-winning writer E.R. Murray for a fun and exciting workshop that will introduce you to the craft of writing for young people. Through practical writing exercises and discussion, you will explore a range of topics including developing characters, setting, and plot, finding your own voice, building believable worlds, and creating authentic dialogue. Suitable for anyone interested in writing for children and young adults, bring your notebook and pen and an open mind.

Caramel Hearts is Published!

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Caramel Hearts – published today!!!

I can hardly believe it; today is publication day for Caramel Hearts, which means that my second book is hitting the shelves! It is separate to the trilogy and for an older audience, so here’s a bit of info before I tell you how it all happened …

Can a book full of secrets unlock the past?

Liv Bloom’s life is even more complicated than that of your average fourteen-year-old: her father walked out on the family when she was young, her mother is in a recovery centre for alcoholics, and her older sister is struggling to step into Mum’s shoes. The only person she can turn to is her best friend Sarah, who gets out of scrapes at school and is a constant source of advice and companionship. One day Liv discovers a book of recipes written in her mum’s handwriting, which sets her off on a journey towards self-discovery and reconciliation – but a theft, a love rivalry and a school bully are just some of the many obstacles on the way.

Structured around real cake recipes, Caramel Hearts is a coming-of-age novel about love, disappointment and hope, and discovering the true value of friends and family, no matter how dysfunctional they are.

The journey of this book was fraught with uncertainty. I wrote it because my first book hadn’t been signed, and I needed to write something else. Something that wasn’t like my rejected book – not fantasy, or middle grade, or anything like The Book of Learning! I’d put so much into that first book and needed to move into a different headspace.

There was no guarantee that Caramel Hearts would be any good, and even though I now had a wonderfully supportive agent, the way forward felt pretty bleak at times. But I knew that being an author was what I really, really wanted and what I really, really cared about, so there was no way I was giving up. The decision to shelve The Book of Learning and start all over again was a difficult one, but a new book gave me something to concentrate and focus on, rather than the recent rejections.

When I started typing the first sentence of Caramel Hearts, did I believe it was ever going to get published? I hoped so, but the knockbacks – all part of the process but still difficult to deal with, especially in the early days – can be distracting, especially when you’re getting good feedback but still no deal. And yet, despite the upset and frustration, I couldn’t not write.

It was at this point, at this moment of realisation that I decided to stop focusing on the end result, on getting that elusive book deal, and instead, on enjoying the process. Coincidentally, this is also when things really began to fall into place. I found that I enjoyed turning up to my desk every day much more when I wasn’t worrying about whether I was good enough or ever going to be good enough. The words flowed. The edits flowed.

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Plenty of *research* needed! #Baking #Cakes

It took a year to write and edit Caramel Hearts with the help of my agent. But when it went on submission, it felt different to last time; instead of excitement, I felt fear. What if I got close to getting signed again but it still didn’t happen?

I remember asking myself – OK, if you truly want this, how many books are you willing to write that will be potentially never be published? When will you stop?

The answer was: I would write as many books as needed and I’d never stop. I had written a whole other book after the first one was rejected, and I would do it again. And again.

And so, that’s exactly what I did. I sat and wrote another first draft of a different story, to distract myself and continue improving my craft. I also reread my The Book of Learning manuscript and still felt it was good enough. I removed the word ‘very’ as a token gesture and it went back out on submission. The fear doubled.

It turns out that I needn’t have worried. A month later, The Book of Learning was signed in a three-book deal and a couple of months after that, Caramel Hearts was also signed. Two book deals within six months, four books in total signed and three of those books to be published in my first year as an author – a dream come true!

And so, here we are: publication day of my second book, Caramel Hearts. It’s a change in age group and genre, but a book I really believe in and I hope you enjoy it.

I’ll be celebrating my ‘book birthday’ all day long on twitter and facebook, so please do join me – there’ll be a few chances to win copies of the book too, so spread the word.

Hope to see you there! Thank you for celebrating my book birthday with me! 🙂 

Summer, New Neighbours & May 19th Caramel Hearts Party (online)!

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Shiny, shiny books!

Summer is here. The swallows have returned and the cuckoos are calling – it’s a beautiful time of year. I have lettuces and cabbages thriving in the garden, the tomato plants are starting to flower in the tunnel, and I have an array of seeds – hairy basil, kale, sprouts, chillies and peppers – starting to poke their heads through.

And even better, copies of my second book, Caramel Hearts, have arrived. Actual. Physical. Copies. It feels really fast but very exciting, and I’m still convincing myself that it’s real. That this is all actually happening.

However, before I sound like I’m on top of everything, please note: I have completely lost the art of conversation. I’m way behind the usual vegetable planting and I’m struggling to find some time to catch up. I haven’t seen most of my friends in a long, long, time (sorry everyone). And our grass has got so out of control, we’ve had to move some cows in to fix it for us. They’re very gentle neighbours, and as well as fantastic gardeners (the vegetables are protected), they double as great alarm clocks!

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My favourite thing about this time of year is that the days are long. It’s light until almost 10pm, and dawn breaks before 6am. When you live somewhere with no streetlights for miles, this means freedom! Lots of extra daylight hours for walking, gardening – and maybe, dare I say it, finally catching up with friends? – as well as all the usual writing and freelancing time. This morning, I even edited outside, in the sun, and then had a paddle in the bracing Atlantic. What more could I ask for?

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Happy tomatoes 🙂

When you do these things during the day in winter, you lose most of your best working hours – I’m a person who thrives on light and finds it difficult to write when it’s dark – but if you don’t, you go stir crazy! And yet, despite the long winter, and my aversion to writing in the dark, I’ve managed to get this far.

This far meaning Caramel Hearts is completed and *almost* here (publication date May 19th) and The Book of Shadows – Nine Lives II is also completed; I’m just finishing up the proofs. My busiest months for festivals and events have passed (there are many more though, with Wexford next – check out my events page) and I’m about to start the final book in the Nine Lives Trilogy. Phew!

But first: I’m going to celebrate Caramel Hearts. I’m going to enjoy releasing it into the world (even though it’s a little bit terrifying)!

Publication day is a strange entity. It means that your books are officially ‘out there’ but other than that, it’s a bit of a damp squib. The buzz is all around the launch, which comes later. However, I’ve decided that I’m going to follow the advice of the lovely Mariam Kobras and make publication day more of a ‘thing’. It’s easy to get caught up in deadlines and forget to celebrate, but you only release your book once and so I’ve decided to ‘cop on’ as they say in these parts and enjoy it.

So, on May 19th I’m having an all day long virtual ‘publication day party’ on twitter, facebook and this blog – and you’re invited! It’ll start around 8am and I’d love you to stop by and join in. It’s a bit of fun, a way to get some conversation about the book started, and a chance to win some goodies!

Hope to see you there 🙂 

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Cover Reveal: Caramel Hearts

I’m delighted to reveal the cover of my next book, Caramel Hearts; it’s my young adult debut, published by Alma Books in March 2016.

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This novel is about a girl with an alcoholic mum – there are real cake recipes throughout, and given the name, I was terrified the cover would end up pink, glittery and full of cupcakes. This wouldn’t have suited suited the story, characters, or the author – but there’s an art and agenda to cover design, often driven by sales, so sometimes the story and the cover don’t match.

Thankfully, I’m delighted with this design by Jem Butcher – I hope you love it as much as I do!

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It’s All Happening – A Second Book Deal (this time, Young Adult)!

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He’s playing it cool, but he’s dead chuffed for me really…

I’m so excited about this news, I hardly know where to start …

I can now officially announce that I have signed another book deal, this time with the gorgeous UK publisher, Alma Books. It’s for a Young Adult book called Caramel Hearts, and it will be hitting the shelves in May/June 2016.

In April of this year, Alma Books announced their new children’s and YA list in The Bookseller, and I’m truly delighted to be part of this exciting development.

So, now there’s even more work to do, but lots of celebrating too.

And if you’re out there, working away on your manuscript revisions, keep going. I honestly believe you’ll get there with plenty of determination – and just as much grit.