Life Behind The Scenes

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Oh dear, there are veritable cobwebs on my blog. I may have forgotten how to drive this thing, but let’s give it a go.

This year has been a lot of upheaval, personally and professionally. Yet, thankfully, in these final few weeks of 2019 I can look back and see that I’ve done the best thing for me, stayed true to myself and got through what I needed to get through. I imagine that for most of you, your year has been a similar journey of ups and downs and I sincerely hope that you’ve all come to trust yourselves more as a result.

January saw me get an email in response to a submission I’d sent out. They wanted to see more. So, in March I got the phone call I never thought I would get. An editor from Penguin Random House had read my writing and wanted to work with me. I tried to keep my expectations from going off the charts, but after a half hour on the phone to London, I allowed myself to believe that things were indeed, looking up.

I spent the next few months sketching out a story idea and eventually writing some sample chapters. The feedback was positive and I was asked to prepare a chapter breakdown and synopsis to present to ‘the team’, all with a view to putting a contract in place. A CONTRACT!!! The summer came and went and I waited to hear back. During this time, I gave myself permission to start dreaming about how this would all play out. I thought, ‘come on Evie, stop being so cautious all the time, it’s actually happening!’ Then in September I got the email I never could have anticipated. The editor was switching jobs and taking up a position with a different publisher. My story had, as a result, fallen between the cracks.

I was devastated. I had never been so close to signing with a major publisher. And I was angry at how precarious this industry can be for authors. Angry that the biggest break of my writing career was just, over and for everyone else, it was just another day in publishing. It was tough to take.

It was nobody’s fault and in time I even began to see the silver lining –¬† if my writing had impressed the editors at Penguin, I must be doing something right! And if I’m honest, I’ve learned a lot about myself and what it means to be a writer through this experience. I learned the difference between working with a multi-national publisher and an independent publisher. There are compromises you have to make, no matter which path you choose; creative freedom, royalties, etc. I also learned how some decisions are taken away from you entirely and all you can do is make peace with it and move on. I was reminded of what really mattered to me; telling a story I’m passionate about.

On a more personal level, I got a new kitchen!! Finally. This has been on my wish-list for ages, but I was dreading the inevitable chaos. Anyone out there who has revamped their kitchen will feel my pain and sense of achievement on this one ūüėÄ It seemed to go on forever, and I had to become the project manager of at least four different tradesmen, as well as qualifying in amateur kitchen design. What did I learn? NOTHING GOES TO PLAN, but most things will get sorted, more or less! Also, there’s something you don’t expect when doing work on your house – it’s like doing work on yourself. The cluttered old kitchen I had was, unbeknownst to me, making me really unhappy. But now, with my new streamlined kitchen, I just feel good about myself; like, investing in my home was investing in me.

Physically, it’s been hard to write (which is another reason the blog has taken a back seat). I have an old injury that’s been causing me pain, but this year, I found someone who is really helping to literally straighten me out! I won’t go into the gory details, but it’s been a challenge, mentally and physically. I know I’m not alone in this too – everyone is dealing with something and I really wish that you find the path to good health. I know so many writers and bloggers who keep on writing despite chronic conditions that may or may not be visible. Well, let me say that I see you and I am inspired by you!

A high point of my year was featuring in The Gloss Magazine . So many of my favourite authors have taken part in the ‘Writer’s Block’ series, so I was delighted to be asked. It was the most in-depth interview I’ve ever done and it was an amazing opportunity to delve into my past and the inspiration behind my writing career. I was a bit apprehensive about putting myself in the spotlight, but someone told me that they felt they got to know me better after reading it, so I’m glad I was able to show a more personal side. The cherry on top was Sophie Grenham’s introduction to the piece, which I’m still smiling about! I feel really fortunate, as an indie writer, to be featured in the mainstream media in Ireland. It just goes to show that, at the end of the day, the story is all that matters.

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Through all the ups and downs, my family have been an amazing support, as always. It’s funny, when I look at those author bio’s that say ‘Jenny lives in Wicklow with her husband and two kids and twelve labradors’, I worry that mine looks a bit empty.¬†Evie lives with herself and has grown ridiculously fond of her own space! But it’s true. I like my life and being single just makes me appreciate the relationships I do have even more. And if that isn’t success, I don’t know what is. Or as Maya Angelou put it,

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So, that’s my year, or some of it anyway. I don’t think you really need to hear about the time I got my hair chopped and dyed some AWFUL colour so now I’m wearing lots of hats!! Oh, and I wish I could tell you the exciting news my publisher just gave me about The Story Collector, which is nothing short of an early Christmas present, but alas, I’ve been sworn to secrecy (again). Either way, I feel like I should end this with a song. Music always gets me through – no matter the sitch, there’s a song for it. So I’ve been listening to this one a lot, which is all about having strong foundations and belief that you can get through all of life’s storms.

Do You Believe_

 

PS. Kenny’s Bookshop in Galway (my favourite indie book store!) has The Story Collector on special offer at the moment and FREE WORLDWIDE DELIVERY!! Get it here¬†

 

 

A Visit From Saint Nicholas

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‘Twas the night before Christmas,¬†when all thro’ the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there…

This much-loved seasonal rhyme is the basis for much of the ‘folklore’ surrounding good old Santa Claus, but what is especially intriguing is that it was first published anonymously in 1823 and ever since then, the authorship has been somewhat questionable.

I always felt that it was such a generous gift – to write a magical poem such as this and never claim the glory for it. ¬†Who would have the generosity of spirit to do that? ¬†Well, in 1837 the poem was attributed to the American poet, Clement Clarke Moore (they just don’t name ’em like that these days!) and in 1844 he included the poem in an anthology, cementing his authorship of the poem. ¬†Apparently, an acquaintance of his had sent the poem to the Troy Sentinel, as it was something he had written for his children and did not consider it to be anything more than a frivolity. ¬†Which is a convincing argument – I remember reading that the composer Camille Saint-Saens was reluctant to publish his ‘Carnival of the Animals’ as it would detract from his more serious work. ¬†Equally, this is probably his most popular work, so you never know, do you?!

Anyway, getting back to The Night Before Christmas, a professor of English in New York by the name of Donald Foster has challenged the authorship and believes that it was written by Henry Livingston Jr., a New York poet with Dutch and Scottish roots. ¬†Having analysed the text, he was convinced that the phraseology and the optimistic approach was much more consistent with Livingston’s style than Moore’s. ¬†But the real argument (in my opinion) is Livingston’s Dutch heritage. ¬†The references to Saint Nicholas are very closely related to the Dutch ‘Sinteklaes’ tradition, with the reindeer names originally printed as ‘Dunder and Blixem’, Dutch for thunder and lightening.

Despite the fact that Livingston’s children also claimed that he had read them the poem before its publication, he never claimed authorship himself. ¬†Maybe it’s just the fact that I always root for the underdog, but for whatever reason, my money is on Livingston. ¬†Maybe it was his gift to the world at Christmas and he didn’t require any recognition. ¬†Either way, it is the most magical Christmas poem ever written and you can enjoy it in full here.

And if you’re looking for a book to lose yourself in over the holidays, why not get a copy of The Heirloom or The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris… ¬†There’s no controversy over the authorship either!

 

Go on, sure it’s Christmas!

The Cross of Santiago-Amazon - Copy

It’s my Christmas Kindle Countdown Deal – a special week where you can buy a copy of my novel The Cross of Santiago for just $0.99/¬£0.99 on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To celebrate, I am running a little Christmas giveaway, so if you want to get your hands on a beautifully hand-designed, totally unique tote bag by Aveline Craft & Design, then get your skates on! ¬†But hang on, what’s all this got to do with The Cross Of Santiago? ¬†Well, I’m glad you asked… The 100% Irish made bag features a quirky heart-shaped map of Galway (my home town, where the novel is set) and is in fact designed by yours truly.

So all you have to do is follow the Giveaway Link and with a few clicks of the mouse, you’ll be in a draw to get this truly unique merchandise – maybe not by Christmas, but definitely by New Year ūüôā

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Aveline Tote Bag

 

Enter the competition on Facebook or Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cross Of Santiago is the perfect Christmas read, so why not download your copy during the Kindle Countdown Deal.

A mysterious heirloom, whose provenance lies in the Spanish Armada, holds the secret to a past life. The only trouble is, Amanda Morrison doesn’t believe in reincarnation and cannot explain how this heirloom has been bequeathed to her. But all of her beliefs are challenged when the search into her family’s past reveals more than she bargained for, and a Spanish yachtsman arrives to test her resolve.
An epic story full of historical intrigue and parallel lives, The Cross Of Santiago is a book for anyone who believes in the transcendent power of love.

Post-Christmas Calm

This is a lovely time of year; all of the manic preparations such as buying presents nobody wants and burning turkeys are over, and the quiet lull between Christmas and New Years spreads over the land. The perfect time for me to get stuck into one of my pressies – the new Neil Gaiman – The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, which won the Book of the Year Award. I feel a little out of the loop in that I am only discovering his books now, but having said that, there is a lovely feeling when you find an established author you like and know that you have their whole back catalogue of books to explore!

So I’m going to enjoy this little bit of quiet time, before 2014 and all those New Year’s resolutions kick in.¬† Well in truth, there’s only one I’m intent on keeping and that is to add to my own catalogue and publish my second novel – The Mysterious Bakery on Rue Sainte Antoine.¬† Set in France, it is a similar¬†feel to my first novel, with romance, self-discovery and a little splash of history.¬† So watch this space!