Category Archives: Writing Craft

So, where am I? – a waffly post of waffle

Well, at home on the sofa to be honest.

With the writing? Well, that’s a different story.

THE TREACHERY OF BEAUTIFUL THINGS is all finished. Another full manuscript is making its way out into the world shortly, plus a proposal. And my lovely agent has something else.

So I am writing new things. Without totally focusing on just one. Where’s the fun in that? I currently have:

The Library Book – I’ve been talking about this one for a long time and it’s finally coming together, for now.  I wouldn’t have the greatest belief that this will continue. This one is elusive.

The Brittany Book – I got the idea for this one on last year’s holiday and this year it went ballistic while I was over there. Loads of ideas, a plot, various scenes. Nothing that coherent though. I’ve jotted it all down longhand and (probably next year when I go again) it’s many plotbunnies will ambush me again.

The Space Opera – there’s quite a bit of this, but it has stalled for the moment. Still ticking away in the background though. It does that.

The thing is when I write it isn’t a start middle finish sort of thing. Never has been. It comes in fits and starts, I get ideas out of order and jumbled up. Sometimes I have to write longhand to get hold of the story, sometimes that’s just too slow.  The old cliche is that books are like children, and in a sense they are. In that no two children are ever the same, nor is exactly the same approach correct for every one. And no matter what they put you through, you keep at them. Sometimes it just takes a bit more time.

Life has been getting rather hectic again, but I’m trying to put some things in place to deal with that. I’m involved with Irish Pen (not on any great level, but I’m there). There are lots of family things going on (dentists! Lots of visits to dentists! The horror.) and of course I’m still working full time. Octocon is coming up fast (15 days or so – *SQUEE* – if you’re there, say Hi!). Before that there’s an awesome Writing for Children night run by Irish Pen in the Irish Writers’ Centre. After that (when we’ve recovered) we’re off to Ashford Castle for a Harry Potter Night. All very exciting. And tiring.

But writing has to fit in around this. What’s the point in writing if you don’t have a life? But equally I’d be a basket case if I couldn’t write. So evenings and weekends have to adapt, and notebooks have to be carried around.

Speaking of notebooks – this is my 12th wedding anniversary present. Just right for notes on the Library Book, don’t you think?

So, that’s where I am, in a general, spiritual and bibliographical sense. Busy, but happy, determined to write more, and trying not to think about submissions. In a nutshell, business as usual. 🙂

Oh the edits

It was admittedly a tight deadline, but the edits on May Queen (which may not be called May Queen anymore) went back on Sunday evening with Monday to spare. At the moment I’m mainly in recovery mode and looking forward to a bit of a break. And more edits, this time for Graffiti Angel (which may not be called Graffiti Angel anymore).

It’s funny how stories change, sometimes as you write them and sometimes during the course of the editing process. That’s the point of it, of course. To make it a stronger story, to make it better, shinier, to smooth out the rough bits or lop them off entirely if that’s what it takes.

I’ve mentioned before how much I love editing. I get completely absorbed by it. I was asked recently (while waffling away on Twitter as usual) about my editing process and maybe could I do a post on it. And I may–but not this post. I’m in the post-edit phase, where I’m physically and mentally exhausted. I have a massage booked for Thursday because the muscles in my neck and shoulders have tightened into something like wires and can’t seem to remember what relaxing is any more.

And yet, knowing that there are another batch of edits sitting there, waiting to be done, another book world to jump into and play with, it’s sooooooo tempting right now. Looking at them, just lurking in my inbox. They don’t have a deadline so I can take as long as I like to do them, and wait as long as I want until I start them. Before my agent freaks, that’s not going to happen, because that story is calling away to me and I know for a fact I won’t resist very long. (In fact I did the line edits last night… er… yeah, so much for taking a break…)

But this is part of why I love writing. Stories are magic. They pull you in, they absorb you in another world, and they can be really hard to shake off. As my mind is in an editing zone right now, it wants to edit. Simple as that. But right now I need a bit of a recharge and a chance to think about what needs to be done.

Yes, definitely need to do that post on editing process. Although I’m a little concerned about exposing to the world just how crazy I can be.


And the newsletter: the problem with newsletters right at the mo is there’s not much news – just me being editing-crazy. But I’ll have it out later today. Just be forewarned about the crazy, right? 🙂

Fairytales in fiction

Claire Hennesy has a thought provoking post up today about Retellings, where writers take well known and established stories like fairytales and folklore and use them as a base for their own stories, building on them, changing their slant or reworking them into something new. I started to reply there, but given the fact that I LOVE this subject, my reply started to get long, which is a little unfair on someone else’s blog. So I thought I’d put it here instead. You should of course read Claire’s post first! (but be warned, I now have MORE books to add to my neverending TBR pile).

For me, it seems to work the other way. Quite often I start out telling my own story and find that the fairy tale or mythic elements bleed through as the characters take on those ghostly archetypes that linger in the background of our cultural life. They are still my stories, my characters, still in their own stories but rather than deliberately drawing on archetypes I find they filter into the story in a subtle way (a hopefully subtle way). Because those fairytales are powerful things. They’re beguiling and whimsical. On the surface. But then you go deeper. And deeper. They tell raw and compelling stories when you whittle them down to their purest form. They have darker versions of themselves hidden away in the shadows behind our polished up 21st century versions.

So if I show you an image of a single glass slipper on a staircase, your mind fills in the rest and you go Ah-HA! If there’s blood on the slipper, or if the slipper shatters into a million pieces, your mind is both startled and intrigued. How has the story been changed? Or has it? Is there some older, darker version you haven’t heard before.

I think it’s part of the way writers often feel that stories tell themselves. That they run away with us clinging on for dear life via the pen.

So in my case a fantasy quest novel takes on elements of folklore and fairytales harking back to those older legends and the place of blood and sacrifice they came from. Or an urban fantasy set in modern day Dublin becomes a reimagining of the Percival legend with Celtic overtones and a heroine skirting to the wrong side of divine law.

Myths and folktales lend resonance to our stories and give a sense of a far deeper pool of storytelling behind them. It’s an exciting and abundant area in which to play.

Musical Musings on May Queen

Almost time for rewrites again and I’m getting myself back into the mindset for May Queen, my YA fantasy coming out next year from Dial Books for Young Readers.

As I’ve said before , music is really import to me. A song can encapsulate a feeling, a moment, and distill it so that even a few bars can bring memories and emotions flooding back. A song helps me key myself back into characters, their flaws and their dreams. Continue reading Musical Musings on May Queen

I just wanted to do a quick post to let you know about the new writing site –

I’m really excited about this site which hopes to be a one stop shop for all things writerly in Ireland, and a wonderful resource for writers everywhere. As it grows, there’s going to be so much going on here, but even in its infancy, its a treasure trove of information, interviews and insights. As the founder, Vanessa O’Loughlin says in her introduction, the Irish are reknowned storytellers, so there is plenty to keep everyone interested.

Authors from all sorts of genres talk about their work, their lives and their methods in the Meet the Authors section, there are all sorts of goodies in the Writer’s Toolbox (including a glimpse into one of my infamous notebooks, if you dare!) and the fantastic 100 Tips from Top Authors.

Add to this Guest Blogs, a For Readers section, details on Courses and the Events Guide, I’m going to end up spending a lot of time here!

Lots to do

So, I’ve been slacking off a lot of late and I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things from now on.

The plan is to get some new words every day. What I usually do is aim to write 500 a day and more if I can and track it. I’ve recenly started a new project involving magicians (untitled as yet) so I’m going to focus on that. I also have edits to do on 2 projects but no deadlines for them as such. So if I get stuck I’ll probably switch to rewriting. Or if a deadline emerges of course. But I really want to write something new at the moment.

So, here we go.

Oh, and I just spotted the actor Andrew Lee Potts from Primeval and Alice – just as I imagined Jack in May Queen. Like the living image! Uncanny.

New Release – help spread the word & win a copy

Out Today: Songs of the Wolf (Tales of the Holtlands)

The Wolf’s Sister and The Wolf’s Mate in a single print volume.

ISBN: 978-1605049205

It can be ordered from MBaM, BookDepository, or

A love transcending race and culture…a love worth a fight to the death.

The Wolf’s Sister
Elite Fey’na warrior Shan is driven by hatred for the Lord of River Holt, the human who killed his sister. Vengeance is his only goal. Then he meets a woman on the run.

Jeren is desperate to escape her brother before his misuse of magic consumes his sanity. She finds safety and protection with Shan…but only so long as she hides her kinship with the Lord of River Holt…

The Wolf’s Mate
Jeren doesn’t expect Shan’s people to readily accept her, but she’s determined to prove herself worthy. Then the eyes of the beautiful sect mother fall on Shan, turning Jeren’s new world upside down.

Shan wants nothing more than to be with Jeren, but the sect mother has cleverly bound him to her service—full time. Yet he vows the suicide mission he’s been assigned won’t stop him from returning to claim Jeren.

Left alone to make a place for herself, Jeren’s own people seek her out—and force her into a terrible choice. She can set them free …but only if she forsakes Shan.

  • 4.5 Stars — “I haven’t read such a beautifully written tale in a very long time!” — Natalie, The Library
  • 5 Angels & a Recommended Read – “The fascination that I first felt when I had the chance to read the blurb for this book was well justified…I love to read books that make me feel the emotions that the players experience, be it fear, pain, anger, happiness, sorrow and frustration. The battles that these two go through make you ask yourself what next and when will it end, but the ending is very rewarding. Overall, I could read this book repeatedly and find something new in it. Thanks to R. F. Long for a very wonderful read.” – Darksnite, Fallen Angel Reviews
  • “It’s well written, fast paced and filled with interesting and unique characters….The best part of the story is Jeren herself. I liked her in The Wolf’s Sister but in this release, she really grows and shines, as she turns into a confident and determined woman, willing to fight for her man. I’m very curious to see what happens to these two mates with the next and last release.” – 4 Nymphs, Mystical Nymph, Literary Nymphs Reviews Only

The Wolf’s Sister Booktrailer

The Wolf’s Mate Booktrailer

Please help spread the word. Tweet, blog, review, link or whatever. (Anything to take my mind off the Budget and the weather here today!)


Leave a comment below and I’ll enter you into a draw to win a signed copy (or an ebook bundle if you’d prefer).

This competition is open to all (but for our friends across the Atlantic please bear in mind that the print copy might take a while to get to you as the row-boat is busy every other Tuesday! ;))

I’ll be selecting a winner at random (or by small child) on Friday.

Art & Writing: Galleries & Agents

I’ve been mulling over this one for a little while. (Admittedly I also forgot to write this for a little while, but let’s just go with mulling it over, eh?) A conversation with a friend while on holiday sparked off some interesting comparisons between the publishing world and the art world. (There may have been a glass of wine or two involved. We were in France, after all.)

While writing is an art, it is also a craft. It is also a very hard job that you have to do every day. But then, no artist steps up to a canvas and produces a masterpiece on their first attempt. Practice practice practice, preliminary sketches, balled up bits of paper in the corner… it all sounds terribly familiar, doesn’t it? 😉

But where the analogy really came together as we talked was in terms of finding an agent, of selling a novel, the business end. Continue reading Art & Writing: Galleries & Agents

Researchy* researchy goodness

Wow, this month ran away with me. Why? Well a number of reasons. Life, of course, and a bit of a whirl on ideas, research, rewrites etc.

The research bit is what I’m thinking most of today. As a writer I’m continually researching. I want to know how everything happened (luckily I married an  engineer who wants to know how everything works). I want to know about the people involved and the events which shaped history. I got a fantastic interactive DVD on Dublin from Viking to Tudor times yesterday from the fab Dublin City Radio. Once I can wrestle it back from my children I’ll spend hours playing with it.

Once I can wrestle it back from my children.

Research means always asking questions, about squirrelling away bits of information to be used later, about following up on things. Anything can be useful information. Especially when writing fantasy. Books of course, but also documentaries, exhibitions, lectures, holidays and day trips.

And they don’t have to be boring. Continue reading Researchy* researchy goodness