Life Behind The Scenes


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 😀 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.



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 




photo credit: Best Friends During Autumn via photopin (license)

To mark European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (24th -30th January) and World Cancer Day (4th February), I thought I’d take the opportunity to share my cervical screening story as part of the #ShareTheWisdom and #WeCanICan campaigns.  It’s all about what we can each do as individuals to inform and empower ourselves, as well as others, on cancer prevention and the importance 
of early detection.

Nothing says ‘leave your dignity at the door’ like a cervical smear, or so I used to think.  Like most women, I procrastinated and avoided this unpleasant task with feeble arguments like, “Didn’t I just have that done?” or “I’ll make an appointment as soon as I get a chance” and my favourite, “I’m sure the last one will tide me over for another while”.  Between one thing and another, I dodged my cervical smear for over 5 years.  It was only when Cervical Check – The National Screening Program in Ireland ran an ad campaign asking that all women register online for an appointment, that I finally did something about it.  I signed up myself and my sister because, hey, we do everything else together and I figured we could give each other a little moral support and more importantly, stop each other from backing out.

The appointment finally came and yes, the ‘procedure’ was just as I remembered.  Slightly mortifying and uncomfortable, but relatively quick and painless.  Why had I been putting it off for so long?  So I didn’t think anymore about it and assumed my results would come back normal.  However, one sunny afternoon in May, I received a call from the clinic and they informed me my results were abnormal.  She told me I’d be receiving another appointment for the Colposcopy Clinic and they would explain further.   I couldn’t get my head around it and pressed the nurse for more details on the ‘cell changes’ the letter referred to.  When she said the words ‘pre-cancerous cells’ I heard little else.  I was completely gripped by fear and panic and suddenly felt icy cold.  When I hung up the phone, I jumped into a scalding hot shower and stayed there until I felt warm again.  I spent the rest of the afternoon in bed, called my family and cried a lot.

Of course I was worried, but if I knew then what I know now, I would have had a much more positive outlook instead of going straight to the worst case scenario.  The professional team in the Colposcopy Unit were amazing and following a biopsy, they performed a simple procedure and removed the abnormal cells.  It was actually similar to getting a smear, so not the big production I had been fearing.  Now I have a smear once a year (for 10 years) and all my old excuses seem so trivial now.  I know how lucky I am – 300 women in Ireland are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year and in 2014, 95 women died from the disease.  This is one form of cancer that we have the power to prevent and believe me, when you get a scare like that, you suddenly realise how important it is to make that appointment.  It can be embarrassing, uncomfortable, awkward and all of those things, but it’s quick and once it’s done, you have the peace of mind that you’ve looked after yourself and your health.  A good tip I received at the clinic is to make the appointment at a time of year you will remember, like Halloween or some other date that’s significant for you.  Our lives are so busy, it’s easy to lose track and forget when your next test is due.

So my message is, make the appointment.  And if it’s been a while, please don’t worry; if the results come back with an abnormality, there are steps in place to prevent things from progressing further.  If you’re a man reading this, please tell the ladies in your life and if you’re a woman, why not rope you’re female pals into joining you! #sharetheawkward