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Month: December 2015

Guest Post: Cathy Mansell Where I Grew Up

Where I Grew Up

dublin2I grew up in the friendly neighbourhood of Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 approximately 2km south of the city until I was eleven years old. Then we moved to a house in Donnybrook a short distance away. In the late forties and fifties  with little traffic about, I grew up a robust  adventurous child, in a world of simplicity almost untouched by outside influences.

Our home, number six Beatty’s Avenue was in the middle of a row of one-story cottages facing the Dodder River.

Ballsbridge, named after Mr Balls who built and owned the original wooden bridge.  In 1791, a three-arched stone bridge was built over the Dodder River, and it was here I found all the fun and excitement I needed by getting into all kinds of scrapes and mischief.  Back then, two families occupied one cottage.  My parents brought up five children in two rooms on one side of the shared concrete hall. It ran from the front door to the back.

Outside a wash-line, fuel bunker with turf and logs for the fire, a shared water closet and a communal water tap was the norm. Our front garden was a joy as my father was a professional gardener. We had a summer house, grass with flowered borders. Against the wall overlooking the avenue a trellis covered with roses and sweet pea. I still remember the sweet smell of the lilac tree.

Our Landlady, Miss Beatty lived at the top of the avenue. We never saw her. She employed a man to collect the five shillings rent each week.  Being a curious child, I had to contain the urge to knock on the brass knocker in the hopes of getting  glimpse of Miss Beatty.

In spite of having to make our own fun, like swinging on a rope around the lamp-post, skipping, chalking squares on the pavement, playing hide and seek in the park and forever falling into the duck pond.  These were some of the happiest times of my life. We had all the amenities we needed close at hand including a library, and school was within walking distance. My favourite shop was Herbert House, where I bought a pennyworth of Honeybee, four for  a penny.  But  any opportunity I got was spent by the Dodder Wall observing the swans. They arrived along the river bank at the same time each year.  I loved watching them dip their long slender necks under the water and emerge flapping their wings having gained little for their effort, then float down the river, long pieces of grass and mud dangling from the beaks. I watched them fetch twigs and grass, Cob and Pen working side by side until their nest was rounded and perfect. The Pen, then fluttered her wings, fidgeted and nestled down onto the nest. There she stayed guarding the eggs until the cygnets were hatched. At this point, I would run inside to tell my mother and everyone came out to see the shaky, fragile chicks chirping happily under the watchful eye of their parents as they bobbed up and down on the river like balls of yellow fluff. Within weeks, their feathers changed to a murky grey, and it was a full year before they turned into white beautiful creatures ready to explore pastures new.

We were lucky to have the added pleasure of living close to the Royal Dublin Show. Each year this it brought a hive of activity and traffic to the area. Show jumping was the main attraction and together with agricultural exhibitions helped put Ballsbridge on the map. We could never afford the money to get in, so my friend and I used to sneak in when the door man was occupied.  I wanted to see the show jumping but I never managed to sneak into the enclosure.

As a innocent child, my head full of adventures, I was oblivious to the struggles my parents had bringing up five children in a two-roomed cottage. They were amazing and if it hadn’t been for my mother’s patience, kindness and dedication to her family in times of real hardship, when just keeping us fed was a trial, I might not have been the happy go lucky child I was. My first teachers were good and the important values they passed on have stood me in good stead for most of my life.

***

dublin 1On a recent visit to Ballsbridge in October of this year, I felt a rush of excitement to see the cottage where I grew up.  The river was in the process of being dredged as the cottages had been flooded twice. A high wall now replaces the low dodder wall. My debut novel, Shadow Across the Liffey, is set there and I had the pleasure of donating a copy to Ballsbridge library, the same library I frequented as a child.

Office blocks, apartments, coffee-houses restaurants and hotels replace the small shops and businesses of my childhood. The unusual circular glass building of the American Embassy, fits nicely into the triangular site on the corner of Elgin Road, close to the bridge.  Attractive to the eye when viewed in any direction. It is an expression of the close relationship between Ireland and the United states.

Dublin 4 is now arguably Dublin’s most exclusive address boasting the highest real estate prices in Ireland with asking prices of up to €10 million for a single property. Only the rich and powerful now live here. However, I still recognize it as the playground of my childhood, the place where I grew up.

Dublin’s Fair City

BLURB

On her deathbed Aileen’s mother reveals a secret she has kept for eighteen years, and pleads with her daughter to fulfill a last wish. Torn by grief Aileen leaves Dublin, the Fair City, and Dermot, the man she has grown to love.

Lonely and vulnerable she unwittingly befriends a sales rep at the seed mill where she has found work. Suddenly her life becomes entrenched with danger. On a visit back to Dublin Aileen discovers a devastating truth, but her mother’s last request is still shrouded in a mystery she is determined to unravel. When she finally decides to return to Dermot, and the family she loves, will the secret she too is now hiding tear her and Dermot apart?

Author Bio:

Dublin July 2011 032Member of Leicester Writers Club, Life President of Lutterworth Writers’ Group, member of National Association of Writers’ Groups, Just Write, Romantic Novelist Association and past president of Leicester Riverside Speakers club.

Cathy is an experienced writer of romantic fiction. Her early work was competition short stories and articles published in national magazines. She was Editor in Chief of the Leicestershire Anthology, ‘Taking Off’, a book promoted and supported by Arts Council UK.

In recent times Cathy has turned to writing full-length novels that are set in Ireland/England in 19c. Having lived her childhood years in Ireland, all of her work has that touch of authenticity, faithfully depicting the lifestyle and hardship of Irish families in those days, together with the passions and emotions of her characters, when they become wound up in intricate criminal plots.

Readers of Cathy’s novels are transported to a distant time, with page turning tension, holding tears and laughter in equal measure.

Cathy debut novel, “Shadow across the Liffey,” published with Tirgearr Publishing, was a finalist in the R.N.A.’s Joan Hessayon Award in 2013.  Cathy’s fifth book, Dublin’s Fair city is due for release on 5th February 2016. All five books are contracted with Tirgearr and Magna for library large print and audio.

Cathy was a contender in the TV programme Food Glorious Food with her recipe, Cathy’s Crumbs Crumble in 2012

Contacts: [email protected]

[email protected]

www.cathymansell.com

www.tirgearrpublishing.com

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Guest Post: Elizabeth Delisi Naming Your Characters

Naming Your Characters

Romeo and Juliet. Scarlett and Rhett. James Bond. Miss Marple.

All these names conjure up an instant image. As soon as we hear them, we feel we know something about the characters they represent, their personality traits and quirks, their strengths and their vices.

Suppose Scarlett was named Henrietta, or Rhett was named Bartholomew. Would they be the same impulsive, romantic couple with those names? If James Bond were named Calvin Jones, would he still be a dashing, intrepid spy?

Your character’s name is often the first thing the reader encounters, and it makes an immediate impression in the reader’s mind. It’s important you choose a name that will make the right impression. But how do you go about doing that?

When you choose a name for your baby, you’re taking a chance because you have no idea how the child will turn out, what his or her personality will be like. We have all met people whose names don’t seem to fit with their personalities.

When you’re naming a fictional character, however, you have a great advantage. You know what type of character you will write about, what traits you want him to have, what quirks you want her to display, what his weaknesses are. Under these conditions, there’s no excuse for not getting it right!

The names you choose can suggest a certain social or ethnic background, or societal position. It may indicate whether the person is meticulous or messy; brave or cowardly; bold or circumspect; flamboyant or mousy.

Keep a list in your journal or in a Word file of names that intrigue you in some way. You may have heard the name in a conversation, or on television or radio. You may have seen the name in the obituaries column, on Facebook or Twitter, or in a theater or music program. When you write a name down in your journal, make a few quick notes about what you think the character’s personality is like.

A book on choosing a name for your baby is an invaluable reference tool for writers. Books like this are available cheaply, often in the racks at the grocery store checkout; and the Internet abounds with naming websites. They generally list male and female names, their meanings, nicknames and variations on the names. Sometimes you can find a name whose meaning has something to do with your character or plot. Though your reader won’t know the meaning of the name, you will know it, and it will strengthen your writing accordingly

According to one baby naming book, “Henrietta” means “mistress of the home,” and “Bartholomew” means “son of the furrows; a plowman.” Thus, if we renamed Scarlett and Rhett as Henrietta and Bartholomew, we’d be turning them into a farmer and his wife! And poor Calvin “James Bond” Jones would be “bald.” Not a very dashing image, is it?

Some other practical tips on choosing a name: Don’t choose a first name for a character that ends with the same letter with which the last name begins. This can make the name hard to pronounce; for example, Jonas Smith is going to produce a lot of hissing when your reader says the character’s name out loud.

The number of syllables in a name can hint about the character’s personality, as can the number of hard consonants or soft vowels. Short, monosyllabic names full of gutteral sounds like “Rhett Butler” indicate someone who is strong, bold, and no-nonsense, while flowing, multi-syllable names like “Melanie Hamilton” indicate a softer, more romantic personality.

Make sure you pronounce your character’s full name out loud, to be sure it rolls easily off the tongue and doesn’t sound awkward.

Don’t forget to take into account the cultural and ethnic background of your characters when choosing a name. For instance, the name “Keely” means beautiful and graceful in Gaelic, and might be the perfect first name for your historical romance heroine.

There are numerous sites on the Internet that you can use to help choose a character’s name. At http://www.infernaldreams.com/names/index.htm you will find an “onomastikon,” or dictionary of names. This site lists names from around the world, both first and last names, ancient and modern. For instance, if you’re writing a book set in ancient Greece, you can choose names from “Europe,” then “Ancient,” then “Ancient Greece.” Suppose you choose “gods” next. You will find dozens of gods’ and goddesses’ names listed, most with a descriptive attribute.

Visit http://www.kabalarians.com/, a site run by the Society of Kabalarians of Canada. At this site you can look up the meaning and personality type of a name, based on a mathematical principle developed by the Kabalarians. For example, if you look up the name “Rhett,” you discover that someone with this name is  very aggressive and independent, has big ambitions, excellent business judgment,  a versatile, restless nature, is seldom satisfied and is always seeking something new. For an additional fee, you can submit your own name, first and last, and receive an extensive 25-30 page report.

At http://www.babycenter.com/babyname/ , the Baby Name Finder site, you can search for names by gender, country or ethnic origin, starting or ending with a particular letter, or a particular number of syllables. You can find the most popular names of 1998, or you can discover that the most popular boy’s name in 1880 was John, and the most popular girl’s name was Mary, whereas the most popular boy’s name in 1998 was Michael, and the most popular girl’s name was Kaitlyn. There are naming chats and bulletin boards, and you can search for a name that has a specific meaning.

When naming your characters, be sure you make their name an asset, something that will assist them in their journey through your story. I just learned that my name, “Elizabeth,” means someone who is idealistic, has a sensitive nature and a desire for culture and the refinements of life, someone who works best in a relaxed environment at tasks involving writing and concentration. Hey, I can live with that.

Mistletoe_Medium_by_Elizabeth_Delisi-500MISTLETOE MEDIUM, #3 in the Lottie Baldwin Mystery series (due out Nov. 4)

No sooner does psychic Lottie Baldwin pull up stakes and move to Cheyenne, North Dakota, than she finds herself up to her neck in a series of mysterious robberies. Can Lottie and the handsome new man in her life, deputy sheriff Harlan Erikson, solve the crime spree before Lottie becomes the next victim?

Author Bio:

Liz photoElizabeth Delisi is the author of Lady of the Two Lands (a Bloody Dagger Award winner and Golden Rose Award nominee); Since All is Passing (an EPPIE Award finalist and Bloody Dagger Award finalist); and Fatal Fortune (a Word Museum Reviewer’s Choice Masterpiece), the first in the Lottie Baldwin Mystery series. Observant Oracle, the second story in the Lottie Baldwin Mystery series, is now available; and Mistletoe Medium (prequel to Fatal Fortune) will be available soon.

She is also the author of a short story collection, The Midnight Zone; an erotic romance, Practical Passion;  Troubled Spirits, a paranormal tale; and her contemporary romance anthology, Heart Spell, will be released soon.

Elizabeth is an instructor for Writer’s Digest University. She has taught Creative Writing at the community college level, and has edited for several small publishers. She holds a B.A. in English with a Creative Writing major from St. Leo University. Elizabeth is currently at work on Deadly Destiny and Perilous Prediction, sequels to Fatal Fortune.

 

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The Holiday Spirit

Dudeism.svgThis year I have already written about the Holiday season: the fun it is to track Santa, but also how scary it is we are giving the big guy (and many other people) about us. It seems we are in a giving mood year round, whether we know it or not.

I also wrote about how important it is to show kindness and grace this time of year, and really all year long. It’s a post I hope goes just as viral as my post about Four Spiritual Lessons We Can Learn from the Big Lebowski, which had over 4400 shares on Facebook alone. The Dude Abides, indeed.

I’ve had the privilege the last half of the year to write about teachers, libraries, and business, sharing what I have learned, and bit of my writer’s journey with other people.

You see, I have been blessed, and learned a lot this year about not being such a workaholic, but still working hard. About love and family, and what those words really mean. I’m still learning: if somehow you are offended by my journey, or part of it, stick with me. I’ll get it right eventually.

I’ve been thinking about doing something, a little different author event. The idea started a couple of years ago, in a bookstore. It has been sitting in the back of my mind.

Then this summer, while in California, I took some things a little girl said, and fulfilled my ambition in a really small way. I wrote her a story, on the spot.

I took some things she said about herself, and I crafted her a unique tale. It starred her, and was built with her thoughts. She loved it.

So this year, I am making you a special offer this Holiday. Click here to find out more about it.

Because one thing I never want to stop doing is giving back.

In that spirit, if you Subscribe to my newsletter between now and the first of the year, I will give you a free e-copy of Typewriter Repair Shop. Subscribe, and I will be in touch to ask you want format you need.

They’re both my Holiday gifts to you, my readers. Happy Holidays.

Stay tuned for more Troy Lambert thrillers coming 2016.

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Guest Post: Kemberlee Shortland: Researching Murder in Mornington

Each Thursday in December, this site will feature an author guest post, and it it goes well, that will continue after the first of the year. Today we welcome Kemberlee Shortland, one of my favorite people, and a great author. She talks about the research that went into her new mystery, Murder in Mornington:

Researching Murder in Mornington

Since releasing my latest story, Murder in Mornington, I’ve been asked what inspired it. After all, it’s a cozy mystery and I’m a romance writer. Why the change?

Well, it’s as simple, or as complicated, as real murder.

Two years ago, my hubs took a new job which meant relocating to new digs. We found what is probably the best place we’ve ever lived in Ireland . . . a cottage style house in a small bedroom community called Mornington, on the east coast where a major river opens into the Irish Sea right behind us. Bliss, right?

Bliss until a dead body was found on the riverbank!

The poor fellow had actually met his demise in our nearest town then dumped at the river, for what purpose, I don’t know. But as I’m a writer and have a curious mind, my imagination started working overtime the moment I realized there had been a murder in Mornington. “What the heck are we getting ourselves into?” More importantly, what was it about Mornington that inspired this body dump? Had others met their demise here?

With the title practically leaping into my lap, I asked myself if I could apply this to a story. Writers put everything they experience into stories . . . which is why you’re not supposed to upset us. Because we could put you into a story and torture you. A lot!

morningtonSince I live, literally, behind the scene in question (I can see the tower from my office), I’m down there all the time with our dogs, so the location research was easy. The harder part was the investigative stuff. For that, I have to say, it pays to know someone who knows someone.

Long story short, I met with an active Irish police investigator who spoke with me at length about the procedure of an investigation . . . from the moment the call is made to 999 (Ireland’s equivalent of the US’s 911).

This information was invaluable, to say the least. I was able to look through a real case file that was actually presented to the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) and used during the trial. Every little last detail of the investigation went into this three inch thick tome. Every inspectors’ note, every forensic result, every report . . . every *everything* revolving around the case. Which also included additional reports that were stuck in the back of the book after printing. And we went through the first part of this investigation with fine toothed comb until I fully understood the process of Irish investigations and could then ask questions which would apply to my fictional case.

Without having an opportunity to talk with someone in the field in which I was writing meant I was mainly reliant on the news to see how things are done. But we all know how subjective news reports can be. While what I had written was believable, it wasn’t 100% accurate. I wanted 100% accuracy.

My new friend also agreed to read my story for accuracy, which I *really* appreciated. He got out his red pen (a real red pen) and made loads of notes which I then used to amend my work. It was a good thing too because my fictional detective had illegally collected a crucial piece of evidence that would not have been admissible in court. With my friend’s guidance, I had avoided a major FUBAR. With my friend’s help, I was able to accurately write scenes from the initial discovery through search warrants to evidence collection.

I can’t say enough about good research, and about going the extra mile, especially when it comes to facts that matter. Writing a believable story is one thing, but writing one that’s accurate takes work. It pays off in the end.

coverBlurb:

The last thing hair stylist Sassy O’Brien expects to find on her morning run on her local beach is a dead body. An addict of TV crime programs, she thinks, “What would Beckett do?” After ringing the police, she takes several crime scene photos on her mobile phone, as you do.

Much to Detective Donnelly’s consternation, Sassy’s involvement becomes instrumental in his investigation, especially as clues are overlooked by his team.

How will Sassy cope when all the clues point to her?

Author Bio:

Kemberlee was born and raised in Northern California in an area known as America’s Salad Bowl. It was home to many authors, including John Steinbeck, and for a while Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson.

In 1997, Kemberlee left the employ of Clint Eastwood when the opportunity to live in Ireland for six months presented itself. It was there she ended up meeting a man who convinced her to stay. Kemberlee is now celebrating her eighteenth year in Ireland and has been lucky to travel the country extensively, picking up a cupla focal along the way—a few Irish words.

Kemberlee has been writing since a very young age and over the years she has published dozens of travel articles and book reviews, as well as worked with some notable authors who’ve set their books in Ireland.

2006 saw the publication of Kemberlee’s first two short stories, Tutti-Frutti Blues and Dude Looks Like a Lady, set in her hometown. Since then, Kemberlee has published a number of short stories and novels, many of which are set in Ireland.

Kemberlee Shortland authorContact Information:

Website – http://www.kemberlee.com

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/AuthorKemberleeShortland

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/kemberlee

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Kemberlee-Shortland/e/B003C0F7C6

LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/in/kemberlee

Heart Shaped Stones – http://www.heartshapedstones.blogspot.com

Hearticles: Articles with Heart – http://www.hearticles.blogspot.com

Tirgearr Publishing – http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Shortland_Kemberlee

Purchase Links:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017DEWZEY

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B017DEWZEY

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/murder-in-mornington-kemberlee-shortland/1122885616

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/search?Query=9781310765162

Apple: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9781310765162

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/589144

Watch for book two in this series, Lynched in Laytown. Coming Spring 2016.

It’s happened again. On her morning run, Sassy discovers the body of a man hanging from the scoreboard at the Laytown Races winner circle—the jockey who’d won yesterday’s famous beach race. When two women are discovered to be carrying the deceased baby, a disgruntled and jilted wife, and jealous jockeys, suspects are at a premium.

Detective Donnelly is called in to investigate, but will Sassy’s involvement be of help or hindrance? If anything from his past experience with the hair stylist is to go by, this case will take an interesting twist.

 

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So You Want to be a Writer?

No you don’t. Honestly. But here is the thing about being a writer: you really don’t have any choice. I said recently in a blog post that you can’t become a writer, because it is something you already are. Either you are a writer, or you aren’t. If you are, you will find doing anything else for a living pretty damn miserable.

On the other side, if you aren’t you will find the writer life a pretty miserable place to be. You can’t force a round peg into a square hole, and it’s the same the other way around. Don’t believe me? I’ll give you some real life examples that also explore what it really means to be a writer. We’ll just call it a reality check.

You Need Training, Both Formal and Informal

WriterBeing a writer is a profession. You don’t need a degree, or a certificate, at least not any more, although for a while there to break into literary fiction you needed an MFA in creative writing, which also allowed you to teach writing. This meant you could be underpaid for writing, and teaching others to do it. But you never wanted to become a writer to get rich, right? Because f you did, you picked the wrong profession.

But you do need training. You need to practice writing, and get good practice, which means you can’t go it alone. You need feedback from writers more experienced than you, you need to take classes, and you need to read books about writing. You don’t go to a doctor who hasn’t learned his profession and suffered through an internship, right? Well, to be a professional writer you need to do the same thing: get an education, and practice for a while with someone with more experience with you.

Introverted? Can’t make friends? You can pay for critiques, and join online groups, like the popular Amazon Write On Program. However you go about it, don’t skip this step.

If you are not a writer, you will hate this. Studying English? Story structure? Literature and movie plots, and how they are developed? If you just want to be entertained, this will not be fun. If you want to learn to be an entertainer (what an author does, through words) you will love it. If you find that you hate education, and you think you know all you need to know about writing, then move along. This is not the profession for you.

I’ve been writing for years, and published a bunch of books and short stories. And I still learn new things all the time. Not one of us has arrived, and the moment you think you have, you are probably moving backwards.

Write Every Day

It doesn’t have to be much, but it needs to be something. I’ve heard people say a thousand times they don’t have to write every day, and I agree with them. You don’t HAVE to. You do have to you if you want to be a professional, and a success in the long run. It just depends on how you want it.

Read The Outliers, by Gladwell? You should. You have to do something for 10000 hours to become a virtuoso. For most writers, that means about 1,000,000 words of crap before you write stuff that’s worthwhile. The more days you go without writing, the longer it will take you to get to your million word mark.

If you are not a writer, writing will seem like work. The more a writer writes, the more they love it, and want to do it more. But if you thought papers, essays, and writing assignments in school were horrible, don’t become a writer. It’s like assigning yourself writing homework every day. For the rest of your life.

A writer is not only comfortable with that, but is excited about it. Someone who is not a writer doesn’t understand that at all. Being a writer means research, editing, writing, and accepting criticism of what you wrote.  If you find yourself cringing at harsh feedback, you’re going to struggle in this business.

Writing is a Business

keyboardThis is the final point for now, but it is vital. If you want to write as more than just a hobby, it is a business. Which means you either do business things, or you pay someone to do them for you. These include, but are not limited to, handling money, accounting, taxes, marketing and promotions, hiring and paying vendors, distribution of your product (your book) and customer service (interaction with readers).

Sound horrible? If you think so, you need to find something else to do. On average, a full time writer spends about 40% of their time marketing and handling business. At least. Even if they have another job. It is tough, and there is no glory. There will be a period of time when you will not be able to afford to pay someone to do some of these things for you. You won’t have any choice but to do them yourself.

Sometimes you will lose money. Other times you will make it, like any other business, and it helps to have a business and marketing plan in place. One you revise all the time.

Being a writer is rough. If you find you really aren’t fit to do much else, go for it. Come along on the journey, but prepare for what it really is. If you CAN do something else, anything. Something more respectable like a cashier at McDonald’s or an exotic dancer, something your family won’t hate you for, go do it. Don’t work as a writer.

But writers happen to the best of families. If you’re already one, and trying to figure out how to make the whole thing work, keep in touch. Maybe we can figure it out together.

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