A Meeting Place for Kings

Walking is good for clearing the mind, body and for writing.  I like to use the time to think about my various projects (I am currently working on book 3 in my K-Girl’s series) maybe carry out some research and to work out any blocks I might have in plot ideas etc.

Recently I had the pleasure of a few days at the Osprey Hotel in Naas, Co. Kildare.  My husband booked us in for a few days post Christmas and it proved a great meeting point for his family.  He is one of six,  and with spouses and children in tow, we were a large gathering.  With most of his relatives living in the Dublin/Kildare/Portlaois environs, the Osprey proved a fab meeting point with swimming pool and carvery and private space –  the location proved hugely popular and successful with the Little clan!

osprey-hotel

We were booked in for a few days but on a budget so I didn’t get to use the wonderful looking Spa in the hotel.  A gal can only do so much in any hotel room/pool so I used the time to get out and about instead.

I had never been to Naas before.  Well, I lie, I have been through it on many an occasion driving from west Cork to Dublin,  back in the days when the old road went through the town itself.  But I have never spent some time in the actual place.  To me (forgive my ignorance) but I used to think it was a drive-through-mid-land town that had no redeeming features.  How wrong was I!

I made some wonderful discoveries.

Firstly, did you know the full name of Naas is actually ‘Nás na Ríoch’ from the Irish meaning ‘meeting place of the Kings’?  Now I am not going to go down a whole history avenue here, so for any one who would like to find out more, see here

I have a lousy sense of direction so my first wander was to get a feel of the place and where the Osprey was in relation to the town itself.  A 2 minute stroll down Devoy Road  found me at a junction and, grateful for some pointer signs, I was soon discovering the Naas Self-guided Historic Town Walk.

Within another few minutes, I found myself at the Harbour, and nearby Library.  The library was closed due to the holidays, but what a fab location.  Opposite was the old Market House (1810) that has planning posted to convert it to a restaurant and retail spot.  My imagination was reeling of past times and how busy the harbour must have been between canal boats docking and merchants conducting business back in the day.  Now it is a scenic walking/cycling spot where you can loop around the town and follow the canal.  Yes, the canal.

canal cranemerchant house.png

The Grand Canal I will have you know! Yes, it links via Sallins, to the Dublin Grand Canal.

I am a sea bird myself, having been raised and sailed along the Wild Atlantic Way so I am not familiar with canals and the various Waterways of Ireland.  But I was keen to find out more.  There are detailed historic notice boards along the trail that explain the various points of interest so I was learning as I walked.

The day was overcast but dry and with no commitments for the next few hours I took off on my own and found some right gems on route.

I am a sucker for old cemeteries and grave yards,  and like to take a moment to walk among the headstones and decipher what names I can.  (There is that part of me that thinks if I speak the name on the grave stone that their spirit is somewhere else smiling on hearing their name spoken once more.) But this old site had little in the line of names, most graves marked with a simple stone, which is usually a sign of a very very old grave and/or paupers/famine grave.  Towards the end of the canal I came across the old lodge house and wondered too at the people that once lived here and their role played at the ope of the estate beyond the gates.

The canal loop brought me around past the Abbey bridge and various canal locks.abbey bridge canal

In an hour or so I found myself back in town and in St David’s Church yard.  Again I had to walk among the tombstones and spotted a few unusual ones in the mix.

From left to right – ‘Atkinsons’ (forget the dieting?), ‘In Memorian’ – with a list of those from Naas whose bodies were never recovered.  Includes a Bishop (Thomas Leverous), a highwayman (Swift Nix), a pamphleteer/controversialist (Stephen Radcliffe) and a Martyr (Peter Higgins)! Next is a father and daughter tombstone where life springs yet (snow drops peeping nearby), and finally, what looks like a pirates grave with its skull and cross bones but is that of a very old gravestone dating from 1723.

But my favourite experience has to be of a little old cobbler’s shop.  It is a mid terrace dusty looking place where the trade is only revealed as a result of this little notice in the window.  I figured ‘Bill Glennon‘ has a good sense of humour and I wondered at his story too.

It was only on passing the door that I spotted a portrait in the next window and thought how nice to put a face to the name.  I was bent over taking a photo when  along came a pedestrian.  I was about to politely move out of the way when I saw that the man approaching me was the very same in the picture.

‘Tis yourself!’  says I, pointing at the window.

‘Tis’, says he, laughing.

I introduced myself and we shook hands and got chatting.  It turns out that the cobbler business has been there for over a hundred years and Bill is the last of his people in the trade.

‘Is there not anybody in the family, or maybe an apprentice, that might be interested in carrying it on?’  says I.

‘Ah, no,’ says he.  ‘It is a dying trade.  I have only the one, my son David,  and he has a good job in a bank in Dublin.’

Not to miss the opportunity, I asked Bill if I could take his photo next to his shop photo and he obliged.  It was only in our chatting that I glanced down at my phone to check if the camera was on that I noticed his shoes.  I couldn’t resist taking a sneaky shot!  Fab shoes Bill!

I didn’t get to complete the full historic trail and explore all that I might have liked so I look forward to returning to Naas and doing so.  I will make sure to pop in on Bill and see how he is getting on.

A Fresh New Look for K-Girls

Sincere apologies!  It has taken me much longer than expected.  I am delighted to report that book two, in my ‘Kylemore Abbey School’ series, is finally launched.

I find it hard to believe that book one, ‘K-Girls‘, was launched in 2013 and in today’s impulsive and impatient society, it has been a long wait for book two, ‘K-Girls Plus One‘.  Thank you all for your patience.

You might find it as interesting as I did, to see what famous authors took years or more to follow up with their sequels.  Not that I am not claiming to be famous by any means, but it is reassuring to know that I am not the worst when it comes to following up with the next book in a series!

To be honest, the loss of my brother did throw me for six, and I took two years to really recover from that (having written a memoir in between).  So I am only thrilled to hoot my own horn and announce that K-Girls Plus One is now available on Amazon.

You can download ‘K-Girls Plus One’ here.  For those that have yet to read book one, ‘K-Girls’, you can find it here

What I am most excited about are my new covers.

While I love, and appreciate, the work that Jonathon Parsons did on my original K-Girls  cover when launched back in 2013 (possibly now a collectors item??) , feedback from readers made me re-think the cover and it was decided that, I should take a different approach.

KGirls book cover

scintillating good read

 

As a result, I did my research and discovered  Irish illustrator, Fergal O’Connor

I asked Fergal to come up with a new cover for both, ‘K-Girls’, and ‘K-Girls Plus One’ so that they would be similarly themed and reflect the different plots.  Fair play to the young man as he took on reading both to get the ‘jist’ of the story line and then it was easy sailing for him to come up with these gems!  I have to say he went above and beyond though when it came to uploading covers for Amazon KDP/Create Space for self publishing as an e-book and paperback.  Both versions take a different format and tool and Fergal was super in taking that on too.

Thank you Fergal!

So at last, both books are available as ebooks AND as paperback with their fab new covers. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

It is worth saying here that I don’t plan to do a big media push on this as I have discovered that there are often snags that need to be sorted re Amazon and the product detail pages/promotions etc.  I am choosing instead to have a ‘soft’ launch and share the news with my existing fans and followers.  Next job then is to get my head around, and set up, some promotions on Amazon.  I think it is only fair that there is something in it for the readers that have been so patient to date!

By the way, some followers have asked me why the title ‘K-Girls Plus One’?

Let’s just say it all becomes clear on reading it!

Enjoy and of course, please please leave a book review.  They are gold when it comes to getting the book out there on Amazon. Thank you in advance!

 

Here’s to a new direction for 2018

It has been some time since I updated my blog – apologies for that.  Grief got in the way but I am pleased to report that I have some of my mo-jo back and am focusing once more on writing.

When my brother Ferg died,  in Feb 2016, I lost interest in creative fiction but did take up the pen to write a narrative memoir, ‘Overload’.  This was a whole new approach in a  different genre and writing style.  This new book, let’s just say, is an unusual one and may not be exactly a commercial fit.  It is experimental.   I hope it will find its way to the right publishing house.  With that goal in mind, I have submitted to some agents and am playing that awful waiting game….(watch this space)

In the mean time, the good news is that I have been given the go ahead by the community at Kylemore Abbey for  book 2 (‘K-Girls Plus One’) in my teen series, ‘K-Girls’  (I like to submit my drafts to the Community for review) and so once the copy-editing/proof reading is completed I will self-publish digitally in March/April.

In the mean time I thought I should give an update on a previous blog as I am delighted to report that I can now share proof that my the first in the series, ‘K-Girls’, did indeed reach its unusual destination.

How many authors can claim that their own book made it to the South Pole!

From here everything is looking up (get it?)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sayer Houseal holding a copy of ‘K-Girls’ @ the South Pole – where every direction is North!

My New Normal

Has it really been December since I last wrote?  My brother died at the beginning of February and this did throw me a bit.

Let’s just say I have been somewhat discombobulated.

fergus-ofarrell

Fergus O ‘Farrell:  30th June 1967- 2nd February 2016

Artist, composer, musician – big brother

 

Since the death of Ferg, I have found that my writing juices are just not flowing in the same way.  Well,  that is not entirely true;  it is my creative writing juices that have not been flowing.

I did take up journaling again and have found this quite therapeutic.

healing

In any case, I just wanted to try and reboot – start with updating a post.  If nothing else, I need to get myself back on the keyboard – life moves on.  Doesn’t it?

I think it is more about adjusting to a new normal.

My new normal.

calvin and hobbs

 

So I ask you to bear with me a while…….

reboot

 

Whistling Dixie

There is no easy way around it.

Revising a novel that is.

Writing is the easy part (for me anyway)

I have written 2 novels now and have to say, I love turning up for the page.  I have yet to experience writer’s block (lucky me).  The biggest hurdle I experience is fitting writing in around my part time job  and my young family life. So when I do show up  and start writing – it is a real buzz – I love it.

When my  first draft is completed, it is truly a  ‘Draft Zero’

Draft Zero – the rough draft – warts and all.

The writing has been more or less vomited onto the page.  It is not a pretty picture to a reader.

first draft

The experts advise to sit on a novel for a bit – leave it ‘in a drawer’ and then to return to it some weeks later.  So you go back to it with a fresh view.

But I have found that the weeks go by, months even,  and I avoid returning to it.  There is that dread.  My characters are nagging me – tapping me on the shoulder – “hey! what about us, that scene – you know it doesn’t work – fix it”  or the character that is a bit fuzzy looking – standing in some fog, cos you haven’t written their back story to give them a good foundation – some depth.

Why do I put it off?

Because  revising is soooo hard.

keep calm

I recently gave my Draft Zero to my writing group for their first impression.  The are my Beta Babes.  My Writing Sirens.  My Realists. They are an honest bunch – I got to hear the plot strengths and weaknesses.  Plot holes essentially.  Don’t get me wrong – it was great.  Very productive.  It just means I had to go back in and sort it out.

Needless to say, there is a lot of work that needs doing.  And THAT is when I had to  convince myself to go back to the keyboard and start the shredding/slashing/re-creating.

Which then is the beginning of Draft one.

My last book, K-Girls took about 17 drafts before it was ‘done’.  Yup,  One Seven.

So I have a bit to go yet on this book 2, before it is truly finished.

There could be many a sleepless night – but hey, I have 3 kids – Sleepless nights don’t scare me.

Anyway – why am I going into all this now you might ask?

Well – I have been putting it off.  And as any decent procrastinator will tell you, it is not my fault that I have not got round to revising my novel.  Naturally, I blame the husband, the kids, the housework, work – my blog………

And here I am – writing this – when on my next PC window sits my novel – Whistling Dixie for my attention.  And so I will take a break from my blog for a bit.  As I get my teeth into revising my own book.

I am sweating thinking about it.  But hey – all for the greater good.  And no one else can do it but me.  This I have to do on my own.

So I am going to knuckle down.

I may be some time

procrastination

New York- Paddy’s Day with a Difference.

17th March 2015 – Day 4 of my ‘Little Irish Adventure’.  It’s Saint Patrick’s Day!

IT’s St PATRICK’S DAY IN NEW YORK CITY!

patricks day in NYC

And my day was all the more special.

First thing in the am,  Roz and I got to read some Irish stories to children in Mamaroneck’s Montessori – this was tough- not because I am shy at reading in public (as if!) but it is so hard to find an Irish story where it doesn’t end in bloodshed and slaying, or at the very least,  curses or banishment.

I didn’t want to scar the little innocents for life!

So we stuck to fairy tales.

Parental responsibility over, Roz and I headed back into Manhattan.

Now, I am the sort of girl that likes to do things a bit differently.

So, NO,  I didn’t go to watch the Paddy Parade.

For those out there who expect floats and giant air balloons or acrobats….You would be disappointed – because those type of parades happen on  Thanksgiving.  (think of the movie ‘Miracle On 34th Street’)

New York Paddy’s Day parades are all about marching bands.

Pre Paraders

Pre Paraders

Roz and I walked parallel to the parades and took glimpses here and there – but to be honest, we were on a different mission.

By private invitation (cough cough) we were off to Pier 90, where the NYPD were having their own Paddy’s Day celebration.

Where?

What?

Who?

cat I could tell you

I will let the pictures speak for themselves….

held in a secure location……

NYPD cruising for a bruising

NYPD cruising for a bruising

NYPD keeping an eye on the Party

NYPD keeping an eye on the Party

and some amazing  music – I promise there WAS dancing

The in house entertainment

The in house entertainment

and lots of men in uniform

Cuchulain in the flesh!

Cuchulain in the flesh!

Who's got your back!

Who’s got your back!

Friends from San Fran

Friends from San Fran

Guardians of the Peace

Guardians of the Peace

best NYPD sandwich ever!

best NYPD sandwich ever!

And then we had our own private parade as the NYPD pipe band arrived……

 the pipes are calling

the pipes are calling

Short side view!

Short side view!

I never felt threatened or on constant alert (a natural feeling I get when surrounded by lots of testosterone) as these guys were natural minders.

True gentlemen  to the core!

We had a great laugh  – the NYPD gang were so welcoming and genuine.

And sure  after a couple of beers, I felt we both blended right in!

cagney and lacey

What an afternoon!

Roz and I were VERY tempted to stay on but,  we being good Catholic boarding school girls,  and not forgetting we are both married….

we took ourselves off out of temptations way…….lol

After resting some, and strolling  along the very pleasant Hudson river walk, in the sharp (and I mean very sharp) air…..

Riverside Rest

Riverside Rest

…..we linked up with Aileen (who had preformed at the fund raiser)

aileen

Aileen (pronounced ‘I-Lean’) has lived and worked for years in NYC -she currently is the Piano Artist Studio Manager working on a fab project Sing for  Hope – (she also is a fab musician/song writer) – note the plug Aileen!

Anywaaaays, I know Aileen as my old pal from Kylemore.  We have linked up over the years, and until this trip, always on Irish turf.

This was my first time to visit Aileen at her own base – and WOW!  If I ever had a ‘far away fields are greener’ moment – this was it!  City living is not for everyone but if I was without kids and didn’t own 3 dogs – I would gladly have what she has.  Aileen couldn’t live anymore central to the creative world that is the bones of New York.  As a writer I had little flashes of what my life  could be  like if I too lived somewhere similar…..how my writer’s world might be……..I wouldn’t give up my life now that as I have it….I have a fab husband and kids after all…….but if I lived in a parallel one?……..oh well, it might make a nice story someday.

We had a fab evening – it was lovely to see Aileen again, and have her show us a snap shot of what she is up to these days- I was tempted to take lots of photos of her super stylish apartment, but I thought that would have been just plain rude – but I did take a few to capture the evening – so I will let the photos speak for themselves!

When all was done and dusted – it was a truly amazing Saint Patrick’s Day – one I will never forget.   A huge thank you to NYPD, and Aileen,  for making it such a Paddy’s day with a difference.

Roz and I managed to get home before midnight, and not only that, but  managed to get home sober – ish.  As Roz  had an early start for work the next day (5am),we were both conscious of the late hour.

I too was keen to get some sleep.  The next day I was going to be flying solo and heading into New York again for some research.  I would be going in wearing with my writer’s hat

– but that my dears, is for the next post…..

Putting it out there

I am a great believer in asking for something.

What is the worst you can hear after all?

No?

If we don’t ask, we don’t get.

Some might believe that our paths are set and what is due will come in turn.  Rubbish I say! – okay, not total rubbish – I do believe that our paths are somewhat laid down but just for the pure fun of it, GOD (whatever type yours is) throws in a bit of choice to see what we can come up with ourselves.

if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”

I have encouraged my kids to be confident in asking for something.  There is a skill to this I think – there is a lot to be said for good manners, good humour, and sure, doesn’t everyone love a charming chancer?

It all boils down to asking for something ‘cos you, well, want it.   So you have to put it out there.

please sir

 

As a boarder in Kylemore, I took chances at asking for permission  – A lot of the time, I was told no, but it was a real bonus when I was told yes!  I  got home early from boarding school  once – I didn’t expect that result myself!

As an adult I was often on the receiving end.  Having worked in the hotel industry, while us managers had to manage complaining guests and going with ‘the customer is king’ attitude – I always acquiesced so much more easily to the polite guest with the issue, than the demanding loud condescending rude one.

And who doesn’t love the try-er – ‘Is there any chance we could get an upgrade?’

Did you hear about the student at a Richard Branson convention somewhere out of state?  – he was receiving texts from the audience as part of the Q & A at the end of the session before he had to dash to his next commitment that was the inauguration of the new President Obama in Washington.  Some bright spark texted him asking was  there any chance they could get a spin with him to the swearing in  – and would you believe it, Richard was impressed enough with their taking a chance and their charming cheekiness, that he said yes!  The texter and their friend were whisked away there and then along with Richard in his helicopter and not only got to see the inauguration but got prime view with Branson’s entourage! (or so the story goes)

I just love that.

But what has this got to do with anything?

 

take a chance

While the self published route has been very satisfying, now that I have written my second book in the series, I have realised with confidence that there is more to my book series than, well,  books.  I firmly believe that the idea as a whole has so much more potential and that realisation involves not being able to do it on my own.  I can, and do, write, but I need experts in all the other areas to do what they do best and so need to be part of team.

To achieve this,  I need to go back to the traditional approach that is to getting “Published” – and I think that means getting an agent.  So I am back to the asking again.

purrrlease

Permission seeking.  ‘Can I be part of your gang?’ sort of thing.

Little_Rascals

Now I have to up sell – ‘cos this time I am in a queue of askers.

Rejection is a little more commonplace when it comes to putting it out there – and I have had my fair share of those.

I am beginning to wonder do I need to revisit my  approach?

Writing my blog and completing my various pages on ‘About me’ and ‘So who is Ruth?’ has made me realise that what I actually share with people when telling them about my book series is not what I have been actually sending out to the various agents/publishing houses.

Perhaps I need to take another look at that?

I recently sent out some new query’s to agents in New York – the thinking that the American market might like the idea of an Irish boarding school story and so after carefully studying and selecting the agents that I thought would be the right fit, I dusted off my submission page and query letter and sent that off.

I have received one rejection so far (1 week after submitting – good going considering some can take up to 6 weeks and beyond)

 “Thank you so much for writing me about your project. I carefully consider each query I receive, and I’m sorry to say that I’m not quite the right fit for yours. I do appreciate that you wrote to me and wish you the very best luck finding the ideal agent for your work.”

 Nicely put,  but it is still a big fat NO!

It is a bit like going for that new job – but that role you really really want.

The fate believers will tell you that it will all come right in the end – and that you have to keep kissing a lot of ugly frogs before you find the right one – eggs to be broken to make an omelette – many doors to be knocked on before the right one opens………

It is reassuring to know that JK Rowling, CS Lewis, Agatha Christie among others, received many rejections before finding their right fit.  I wonder how often they changed their approach?

And so I am now wondering should I not be knocking on doors but instead, say,

throwing pebbles at a window?

Maybe that would get a ‘special’ someone’s attention?

 

We Want You