Dec 31, 2012

Looking Back

It's New Year's Eve, and as I write this I'm having a glass of wine and looking at my two little daughters. They're just two and a half weeks old, and I'm utterly in love with them.

To say 2012 was a good year would be an understatement. Not only did my wife delivery two beautiful baby girls, but I got to realise my lifelong dream with the release of my first novel, Locked Within.

2013 will see us raise Amy and Erica through their first year, with all the exhaustion and happiness that brings. It'll also see the release of my second novel, the sequel to Locked Within. I'm looking forward to finding out what's in store for us, and hope everyone else has a great year. If 2012 was kind to you, may 2013 give even more. If it was a hard year, may the new year bring you peace and joy instead.

Happy new year to all my readers, and here's to all the adventures yet to come.

Dec 20, 2012

Light a Candle

It's close to Christmas, and the arrival of my two little girls has me thinking about Christmas traditions. In Ireland we have a number of traditions at this time of year.

Among them is the setting of a lit candle in the window of your house. The idea behind this is one I absolutely love. The lit candle means that your home is open to travelers who need a place to stay, that you're offering shelter from the cold and a hot meal, should anyone need it.

The tradition goes back to the story of the Nativity, how Mary and Joseph wandered Bethlehem looking for somewhere to stay. The lit candle is a sign that you are offering the Holy Family, as well as any other restless spirits wandering the Earth, a safe place for the night.

We will have a candle burning in the window tonight.

Do you have any Christmas traditions you'd like to share?

Dec 18, 2012

My Turtledoves: Erica & Amy

I decided to try and keep some semblance of my usual blog schedule and wait until now to talk about the birth of my beautiful daughters, Erica Grace and Amy Louise. My little turtledoves.

They were born last Thursday, December 13th, by cesarean section, at 1:35pm.

Erica has a lot of Conor's features. She's long and wonderfully chubby.
Amy has long fingers and the biggest eyes I've ever seen!
I was supposed to be on my way to work. But, because I always get into work so early, I often have a lot of time to spare in case of late trains, etc. So on this morning I decided to give myself a half-hour lie-in. I would still be in work by half eight, possibly earlier. Jen had been having what we thought was round-ligament pain and mild cramps from pulled stomach muscles.

I got up at about 7am, and Jen went into the bathroom, still sore but not too bad. I got ready for work and was all set to leave. Instead, I decided to hang on a few minutes and see if the pain went away. It didn't. By 7:30am we were getting Jen, slowly, into the car and were soon on our way to the hospital.

There, the doctors confirmed Jen was having pre-labour contractions. She would be monitored for a couple of hours to see if the contractions progressed into full labour, which they did. We were at 35 weeks and 5 days, over a month ahead of the actual due date, and 3 and a half weeks before the planned c-section date. But the twins decided they had waited long enough.

The procedure wasn't as easy as it had been with Conor last year. The anesthetist, who I'm told was very rough, wasn't able to get the epidural line into Jen's spine, so she had to go under general anesthetic  which meant I had to wait in another room while the doctors worked. I was very nervous; Jen doesn't react well to general anesthetics. But in a few minutes, I heard the first baby cry. It was absolutely one of the most wonderful sounds I've ever heard.

The doctor came in shortly after to tell me I had two little girls. I got to hold them for a moment before they were taken to observation.

Bit of a grump, is our Erica.
Amy's favourite thing is twitching in her sleep.
As I'd expected, Jen reacted badly to the general anesthetic. She had a panic attack going under, and another one coming around. But a few hours later she was feeling better, though it was still the next day before she got to see the girls.

Erica was 7lbs 1 oz and Amy was 5lbs 8oz. Both can breathe on their own and they are very content to sleep soundly when not being fed or changed. Erica was a little fussy to feed, which we think was due to an infection in her intestines. She was taken off all food and put on fluids and antibiotics so she could recover. She responded very well to the treatment and the doctors are hoping to start her back on feeds again today. If she takes a feed and keeps it up for 24 hours, she'll be brought down to Jen, and then once Jen is able, we can all go home, one big family.

My ladies

Dec 14, 2012

Guest Post:

I didn't get a chance to post this link, or any blog post actually, yesterday because, as you may know, my wife went into labour. We are now proud parents of two beautiful baby girls. Once I have some more pictures and things have settled down I'll post about them.

For now, I'm joining Louise Phillips over at to talk about my journey to publication.

Dec 12, 2012

Guest Post: Melissa Ann Goodwin

Today I'm visiting Melissa Ann Goodwin, talking about Christmas wishes.

Dec 11, 2012

School Visit

Last Thursday I had another first. My first school visit.

I was invited back to my old school, St Kilian's Community School in Bray, Co. Wicklow. It was fairly nerve-wracking, because I remember how tough it can be to keep discipline with teenagers, and St Kilian's was often particularly bad for it in my day.

There were a couple of students who couldn't sit still while I spoke. One pretended to snore. But for the most part, actually, it was fine. Plenty of students listened intently and asked good questions afterwards. I'm told that the school has ordered Locked Within for the library and the principal told me they enjoyed the talk.

A few students wanted to know where to buy the book for themselves, and at least one young student is a writer himself, and the principal suggested he stay in touch with me. I gave handouts to all the students with information on writing and the publishing industry, along with a link to this website. So if any of you reading this were at the talks on Thursday, welcome to the blog and feel free to ask me anything you like!

In Ireland students between the ages of 16 and 17 have "transition year," where they get a break from heavy exams and can try new things like film and drama, learning about businesses, art, different languages, etc. I've been invited back in February to do a creative writing class with the transition year students, and one of the teachers wants to put Locked Within on the transition year curriculum next year.

All in all, I call that a very successful visit!

Dec 8, 2012

Interview at A Storybook World

Today I'm being interviewed by Deirdre A Eden on her blog, A Storybook World.

Dec 6, 2012

After the Launch

It's been 4 weeks since the launch of Locked Within and I still find myself grinning when I think back on it. Now as things settle back into my normal routine I have to remind myself that things really aren't going to be "normal" anymore. I'm a published author, and we have twins on the way at the end of the month. My priorities are going to shift so that writing and raising our two babies will be the most important, and rewarding, things in my life.

I spoke before about feeling like I'd reached the end credits of my own movie. But the story isn't over, and really, now is when the hard work begins. After the buzz and elation of the launch, I still have more books to write, and I have to work even harder at promoting myself. I have to arrange giveaways and reviews, and get the book into stores. Of course, I need people to buy it, but at the end of the day I have no control over that. All I can do is get as much exposure as possible and have faith it'll all work out.

I've found it very easy to deal with bookstores in terms of asking if they'll stock Locked Within. The Irish are great at helping to promote their own. We love a good story about local success. I'm very pleased to be able to say that Locked Within is on the shelves right now in Hodges Figgis and on its way to Hughes and Hughes and Dubray Books.

To add to that, I've arranged a couple of appearances. Today I'm going back to my old school to give talks to some of the students about being a writer, and in February I'm giving a workshop with the English Literature Society in UCD on writing urban fantasy and paranormal fiction.

On Saturday I'm going to a Christmas sale where there'll also be copies of Locked Within available. I'll be signing them for anyone who buys one.

If anyone has any ideas for other events I could do, both in person and online, I'd love to hear them!

Dec 4, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Before I get to today's post, I'm please to announce that the winner of the Q&A draw I held last Saturday is Mary Rella! She'll have a character in my next book named after her. Congratulations Mary!

And now, on to today's post:
I've been tagged by Allen Stroud as part of the Next Big Thing blog chain.

How it works: An author answers the following ten questions on their blog and then tags other authors to do so the week after.

1) What is the working title of your next book?
Forgotten Cause. It continues Nathan Shepherd's story from Locked Within, showing how his actions have affected New York and how he continues his exploration of the supernatural world and his past-life memories.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
When I wrote Locked Within I knew the book was just the start of a series. The elements which make up Forgotten Cause are actually taken from 3 different book ideas, from when I was planning a 6-book series instead of only 3. Parts of books 2, 3 and 4 have all been woven together to create the story, to not only show Nathan's continuing fight against the Council of Chains, but also further develop the setting and the forces Nathan must confront.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
It's very definitely urban fantasy.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I can't decide between Ewan McGregor and James MacAvoy for Nathan, but Dorian would definitely be played by Michael Wincott, Roland by Steve Buschemi, and Ben by David Borneanaz. Other casting choices for established characters include Rachel McAdams for Laura, Olivia Wilde for Cynthia, and Thandie Newton for Cadence. New characters introduced in Forgotten Cause include Elena and Sam, who would be played by Ayelet Zurer and Chris Hemsworth, respectively.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Nathan Shepherd continues his crusade to free New York from its cruel supernatural masters, gathering new allies, confronting old enemies, and facing consequences of past-life actions he cannot yet understand.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Neither. I don't have an agent, but the book has been submitted to my publisher, WiDo Publishing, for approval.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The very first draft, before I re-wrote the book to combine elements of the other books I had planned, took me about 4 months to write.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
It's difficult to say. I've found that there aren't many books out there handling reincarnation quite the way my books do. However in general my work has been compared, favourably, to The Dresden Files, which is great because I'm a big fan of Jim Butcher's work.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Mostly the desire to tell an epic adventure set in the modern day. Epic is so often relegated to fantasy worlds that I've always been drawn to stories that dare to blend genres and adapt the models of epic storytelling to a more contemporary setting.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Where I established a base setting in Locked Within, with Forgotten Cause I delve more into the different types of mythology and how they fit into the world. Celtic, Norse, Greek and Egyptian myth all have their place, but perhaps not in the way you might expect. I play around with tradition and adapt a number of myths and legends.

A high point of the story is that I get into the stark brutal nature of the setting and how Nathan's past lives have been pushed to the limit of their emotional endurance. I think the middle point in a trilogy is vital, not only for developing more of the characters and setting, but to set up the finale in such a way that the reader can't wait to find out how it all ends. Hopefully I'll manage that.

I'm tagging one of my favourite YA authors, Janice Hardy:

Janice Hardy
A long-time fantasy reader, Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy THE HEALING WARS, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her books include THE SHIFTER, BLUE FIRE, and the final book in the trilogy, DARKFALL. She lives in Georgia with her husband, three cats and one very nervous freshwater eel.