If You Don’t Already Know…

Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida (it’s a book I’ve written – have I mentioned it?) will be launched in Douglas Books, Douglas Village Shopping Centre, Cork, on Saturday May 8th at 12.30 p.m.

Yes, Mousetrapped has already been on sale for four weeks, but only online. This will be the first time it’s in an actual bookstore, the Holy Grail, if you will, of Book-Selling Land. (Well, other than the times I’ve snuck into one, pulled a copy from my bag, stuck it on the shelf and stared at it, unblinking, just to see what it was like…)

I’ll be there along with a stack of my books and a number of friends, relatives and former co-workers I’ve coerced into coming along. Do pop in and say hello. I need some strangers.

With any luck the invitations (pictured right) won’t be the best bit.

If you don’t know what Mousetrapped is, you have clearly landed on this page by Googling something strange – like ‘apple German pancakes’ which, for some reason, frequently brings people to my blog – as every single person I have ever met in my entire life has already been subjected to Mousetrapped‘s self-promotional trail. And you need to go here.

Special Guest Star Keris Stainton, Author of Della Says: OMG!

Today we have a very special guest star on Catherine, Caffeinated, or Catherine, Slightly Under Caffeinated, as I happen to be this morning…

Keris Stainton is a writer, blogger and book-lover with ‘her finger firmly on the pulse of what rocks in a teenage girl’s world’. Her debut novel, Della Says: OMG! is out now and bestselling author of The Princess Diaries Meg Cabot calls it ‘a fun, delicious treat you’ll want to eat up in one bite’. One Amazon reviewer said it was  ‘absolutely the best two nights I spent in bed recently’…

[Catherine interrupts blog post to run off and buy Della Says] Continue reading

The Book Backlog: An Update

Last week I blogged about how, thanks to my not-novel-reading but my continued novel-buying, I had a backlog of books and not enough time to read them all. I invited blog readers and Twitter followers to help me decide what to read and what to set aside and just like that, progress was made.

I quickly dispersed with Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (the general consensus was you could take it or leave it – I left it), The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (doesn’t live up to the hype) and The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith (all kinds of bad apparently, even though I loved his first novel, Child 44). Unfortunately two new books were added to the pile in their place: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Caught by Harlan Coben. My excuse for making a bad problem worse? Well, I’d ordered The Book Thief before I went trawling through my bookshelves looking for The Great Unread, and I have to buy every new Coben title no later than three days after it comes out, or else. Continue reading

Workshop Weekend

The last time I was at a writing workshop, the year was 2004. It was a two day affair at the Irish Writers’ Centre in Parnell Square in Dublin’s city centre, I was the youngest person there by a couple of decades and everyone called me Cecilia. (Long story.) The idea, as far as I can recall, was to get your novel started, but I was more interested in the luxury apartment my hotel upgraded me to for the night and the notebooks I slipped into Muji to buy before I came back home. The woman running the workshop was apparently a bestselling author (I’d never heard of) and our time was spent doing what I felt were completely pointless exercises such as interviewing our characters, and sneaking smoke breaks on the steps outside the building.

(On a slightly humorous and very ironic note: at that workshop in 2004, I was told that it was a shame I was only coming to write my novel now as I had “just missed” the explosion in women’s fiction written in an Irish voice. Um – okay, then…)

I wasn’t impressed, and I didn’t start the novel. I haven’t been to a workshop since. But last weekend, out of sheer curiosity and a bid for freedom to anywhere that wasn’t Cork, I headed to the Dublin suburbs for an Inkwell Writers’ Women’s Fiction Workshop. Continue reading

My First Hate Mail

I had a brilliant day on Saturday. I was away for the weekend in stunning Killiney, a suburb of Dublin, the sun was shining bright in a cloudless sky and I had just attended an Inkwell Writers Women’s Fiction Workshop with bestselling authors Sinead Moriarty and Monica McInerney (more on that later in the week).

I was also celebrating something very special, which I’ll blog about in a little while, after coffee.

Then I checked my phone and found what I consider to be my very first piece of hate mail.

If you haven’t read Mousetrapped, some background: the emailer is referring to ‘In God We Trust’, a chapter in Mousetrapped (one of sixteen) in which I describe my visit to The Holy Land Experience, Orlando’s religious theme park. To put my reaction in context, I confess that I’m an Atheist and describe how that came to be, beginning with my earliest memory of questioning what I’d been told, which is wondering where in the Bible were the dinosaurs. (I am not, for the record, an Atheist just because I couldn’t find a chapter in the Bible called Jurassic Park.) It is written in the same light-hearted, humorous style as the rest of the book and is the furthest thing, in my opinion, from a diatribe.

This is the e-mail I received, in its entirety. The only thing I’ve left out is the sender’s name. Continue reading

Me, Interviewed: Alyssa Martino’s Writers on Writing

I am going to the hairdressers tomorrow to get 70% of my hair cut off – bear with me with, folks, a link is coming – and as I’ve never gone to this salon before, the inevitable ‘What do you do?’ conversation will have to take place while I try to drink a cup of dishwater coffee through strands of wet hair and worry about being butchered, and I’ll watch myself fizzle into a puddle of embarrassment and self-loathing as I opt to say that I’m “not working” instead of “I’m a writer.” Because… am I a writer? Technically, I suppose. I’m just not there yet – the saying it, I mean. But while I look up therapists in the phone book, one lovely person not only considers me to be a writer but actually wanted to ask me questions about writing. Yes, I was shocked too. But maybe this will help (with the therapy).

The person was Alyssa Martino who has started a fab series on her blog, Writers on Writing. Every Wednesday there’ll be a new interview and as we all know – no matter what the answers – we all love to hear how writers work, hoping that some small grain of wisdom will land in our creativity allotment and grow a three book deal. (Um… well, you get the idea.)

Today I got to be the first subject and you can read the full interview here. I talk about my usual fare: the Ebola virus, why I self-published, Starbucks, quitting your job and clicky pens.

Thanks so much Alyssa – it was so much fun and the best bit, I think, was that you called me a writer. x

UPDATE: Link to interview corrected. Doh!

My Book Backlog

In September of last year, I stopped reading novels.

I was about to start writing my own and I feared accidental plagiarism by osmosis. There were a few slips here and there but generally, I managed to stick to non-fiction or not read at all.

But I made a crucial error. I stopped reading novels but  I kept buying them. Now that the novel is finished – tweaking continues, but it’s basically finished – it’s safe to read novels again. Over the weekend, I went looking for the ones I’d put in the Buy Now, Read Later pile. And boy – there was an actual pile:

I was shocked. How had I let such a backlog build up? (And, even worse, continued to add to it – The Book Thief just arrived from Amazon.) Why did I buy these books when I knew I had others at home I hadn’t yet read, and wouldn’t get around to reading them for ages? Continue reading