Cover Reveal: The Liar’s Girl

So here they are: the covers of my next thriller, The Liar’s Girl, which is going to be published in the UK/Ireland AND the USA at the start of March 2018. (Yes, both sides of the Atlantic get the book at the same time this time. Woo-hoo!)

PicMonkey Collage

What’s it about? Well, all I can tell you for now is this: ten years ago, her first love confessed to five murders. But the truth was so much worse… 

What about those bridges, eh? Well, besides the fact that I’m thinking of starting a new ‘bridge noir genre’ (not really), fun fact: those are both real bridges here in Dublin. The UK/Ireland cover has the Ha’penny Bridge on it, which goes over the Liffey and is probably one of Dublin’s most famous landmarks, and the USA cover has Huband Bridge, which is on the Grand Canal, right by a house once lived in by none other than Samuel Beckett. (If Irish bridges are your thing, here’s more information about them and eight other beauties.)

I’m off to Harrogate this week, THE crime writing festival, with Writing.ie who will be tweeting like mad from all the events (and, um, the bar…) so if you can’t make it, you can still enjoy it through us. And if you can make it, see you there! x

Coming Soon: THE LIAR’S GIRL

So, news. My second thriller, The Liar’s Girl, will be out in the UK/Ireland and the USA in early 2018 and I’ll be revealing both covers on Instagram on Friday, so if you’re not already following me @cathryanhoward over there, start now!

(That’s also where I share what books I’m reading and sometimes what I thought of them too, if you’re into that kind of thing.)

To make things more interesting, I’ll be revealing each cover square by square. So you might see me post weird images like this:

But then when all 12 weird images have been posted, go look at my Instagram page (in grid view) and TA-DAA!

(That is, obviously, the UK/Ireland trade paperback cover of Distress Signals. I did a test with it.)

The covers will be revealed this Friday, 14th July:

  • From noon for the UK/Ireland cover
  • From 6pm for the USA cover (that’s 1pm Eastern and 10am Pacific – thanks Erin!) 

OOOH, THE ANTICIPATION.

(Mostly felt by me, because I can’t wait to hear what you think of these covers. They’re VERY different to each other but both amazing in their own ways.)

What else can I tell you about this novel? Well, not much because I like being an international woman of mystery. For now, anyway. But let’s just say:

  • It’s another standalone (it’s not a sequel to Distress Signals)
  • ‘Girl’ is in the title but hold your books-with-girl-in-the-title-think-piece horses: she actually IS a girl (or at least she was when the Bad Stuff started happening)
  • It’s set in Ireland
  • It’s set on dry land BUT…
  • … water does feature. (The featured image on this post = BIG CLUE.)

I am currently in the south of France slowly melting into a puddle of Irish Person Who’s Not Used To This Heat. Here’s a picture I took last night to depress you:

Next week, I’ll be heading for Harrogate, THE crime festival of the year, with the Writing.ie gang and between us – there’s four of us, I think – we will be tweeting every event LIKE MAD so do brace yourself for that. If you’re going to be AT Harrogate, do find us and say hi!

Don’t forget – there’s an easy way to stay up to date with my bookish news: my newsletter. Sign up here. I only send a handful a year so you don’t need to worry about inbox overload. Alternatively you can follow me on Twitter or “like” meh Facebook page thingy. (*whispers* Then there’ll be NO escape…. *evil cackle*)

But remember: if you want to see my new covers first, you better be on Instagram!

#IBW2017 And An Epic Bookshop Crawl

Hellooo! Remember me? Yes, yes, I know, I have been terrible at blogging lately. And yes, yes, I know, I seem to be starting every blog post in the last 18 months with an apology about not blogging more often. But I’ve discovered that this writing full-time gig alongside going to university full-time doesn’t leave you much free time, especially when there’s so much good stuff on Netflix. (Have you watched GLOW? No? Go!)

I’m here to tell you the hilarity/mayhem that went on yesterday but before I get to that, I have some news. Distress Signals has been longlisted for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger! This means a huge amount to me because the Daggers are decided by a panel of crime fiction connoisseurs, and there’s only 12 books on the New Blood longlist out of all the debut crime novels published in the year-long judging period. They include some debuts that just blew me away, like Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land and Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker. So, yay! You can view the entire longlist and the other Dagger categories on the CWA website.

Book 2 has gone off to the copyeditor and I’ve seen the UK cover concept. In other words, sh-t’s getting real. I can’t wait to tell you more about it. Hopefully I’ll be able to soon.

Onto yesterday… This week is Independent Bookshop Week (IBW) in the UK and Ireland and to kick it off yesterday, a number of indie bookshop crawls were organised and Hazel Gaynor and I embarked on one. The idea was simple: visit as many indie bookshops as you can, maybe buy a few books, and tweet etc. about your journey on the way using the hashtags #IBW2017 and #bookshopcrawl. Then, reward yourself appropriately. Hazel and I picked ten shops between the picturesque little village of Kilcullen in Co. Kildare and Dubray Books on Grafton Street, the busiest shopping area in Dublin, bought a packet of Percy Pigs and hit the road.

We hit a couple of bumps – we got to our first shop so early they weren’t open yet (oops!), and the amazing Dublin Pride parade closed down streets between us and our city centre bookshops late in the afternoon – but all in all it was the most fantastically fun day and we got to meet some incredibly enthusiastic booksellers whose love for books and expertise on them was obvious.

Here’s the thing: independent bookshops offer something the likes of Amazon and chain book retailers just cannot. I buy a tonne of books off Amazon, but whenever I go there it’s to get a book I already know I want. I rarely end up buying books on Amazon I didn’t know existed before I got to Amazon. I also buy a tonne of books from chain bookstores, like Eason here in Ireland. They do great deals and if it’s a new commercial fiction title you’re after, you will find it there. I do find new books there, but usually books in genres I already read, i.e. books inside my comfort zone.

But consider what happened yesterday. On our stop at The Company of Books in Ranelagh, we asked the owner Gwen for recommendations to share with our followers, as we had been doing throughout the day. She mentioned a book called You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann, which she said was about a writer and had shades of The Shining by Stephen King. It’s a tiny book, a novella really, and it’s been published by Riverrun in a small but perfectly formed slim hardback, translated from the original German. I was sold. And I would never, ever, ever in a million years have happened upon this book any other way. THAT is the joy of an independent bookshop.

At other stops, Hazel and I walked back out onto the street in awe of how incredibly dedicated, knowledgable and enthusiastic the booksellers we’d just met had been. It was, honestly, joyful. We write books because we love them and it was such a lovely day meeting other people who love them so much too.

(I also bought some books on the recommendation of Frank and Amy in Magpie Books but I’m not going to share them here because they’re research for A Very Secret Project. Oooh, intriguing! I know.)

My crawling buddy Hazel Gaynor was multi-tasking because yesterday was also Harry Potter Day (celebrating the 20th anniversary of the publication of The Philosopher’s Stone) AND International Fairy Day – and Hazel’s new book, The Cottingley Secret, is about one of the most famous hoaxes of all time, The Cottingley Fairies. This is her in Magpie Books, Enniskerry, on the bookshop crawl, wearing a HP T-shirt and a pair of fairy wings. Is she the most on-brand author of all time? I think so! (Find out more about Hazel’s new book and her New York Times bestselling backlist here.)

Independent Bookshop Week runs all this week. I highly recommend you stop into your local indie bookshop without any book in mind and ask the bookseller to pick one for you. You never know what you might discover!

Relive our bookshop crawl adventure on Storify here.

What’s the best book you discovered in an indie bookshop? Where’s your favourite one? Did you do any bookshop crawling yesterday or do you plan to this week? Let us know in the comments below… 

How Do You Track Your Word Count? (And Other Things)

Do not adjust your sets. This really is a new blog post. Yes, new material has appeared on this blog. Be gone, tumbleweeds!

I have been MIA because the last six weeks or so have been crazy. I had three university assignments due on the same day, followed by, oh, you know, 100,000 words or so of a book, followed by an exam that I basically had 24 hours to cram for. (Fun fact: my exam was on the history of the book so I was able to throw in loads of stuff about e-books, and I wrote about Celebration, Florida, for one of my assignments.)

Credit: Kathryn English, Blackstone Publishing

In the midst of all that I also wrote a piece about a real life cruise ship murder for the Irish Times, won an award and, needless to say, watched all of 13 Reasons Why because my motto is No Netflix Left Behind even when you don’t have time to sleep and even if the show is utterly rage-inducing on multiple levels. Side note: roll on Master of None this coming Friday. (I think MON is one of the great televisual shows ever made.)

What else have I been up to, I pretend to hear you ask?

Happy Birthday, Distress Signals

Distress Signals, my serial-killer-on-a-cruise-ship-thriller (nautical noir, we’re calling it) was first published a year ago yesterday, which means it’s been a year since the actual craziest week of my life. You and I can relive all the excitement here.

Credit: Hazel Gaynor

The twelve months since have been tough, trying to write a second novel while also doing a full-time degree and being constantly distracted by the shiny stuff of publication (and, ahem, Netflix), but they have also had so many exciting and happy moments. My launch, getting shortlisted for Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards, finding that one of my favourite bookstores in the world, the Barnes and Noble at Dr Philips in Orlando – where I wiled away many a blissfully happy hour – had DS in stock. (This was seriously, like, the BEST.)

I must say a big THANK YOU to everyone who read, reviewed and recommended Distress Signals to their friends and followers. You are all lovely and deserve to drink only good coffee, never instant. To celebrate, my lovely American publishers have slashed the price of Distress Signals‘ digital edition to just $0.99 – its RRP is $9.99 – but only for a limited time. So if you haven’t read it yet, you live in the States and you’d read an e-book, quick, go! Or if you know someone else who fits that criteria who you think might be interested, tell them! More exclamation marks!

While I was typing this, something ah-maze-ZING happened: Distress Signals slipped into the No. 1 spot on Barnes and Nobles’ NOOK bookstore. In other words, it became the top selling NOOK book. Whaaa…? I may have to frame this.

Distress Signals can be purchased for sofa-change from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and Kobo USA, among others.

Events

For some reason May is like peak events over here. I have three coming up: I’m doing a Marketing and Publicity Workshop with Peter O’Connell for Publishing Ireland next week, May 11 (suitable for both publishing professionals and writers), then I’ll be on the Twists and Turns panel at Crimefest, Bristol, on May 18, and finally I’ll be taking part in the How To Get Published Day at Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, as part of the International Literature Festival: Dublin on May 20. For more information on any or all of these, go to my Events page and click on the relevant image.

I’m also going to London next week to hit a few stationery shops, Foyles and Hotel Chocolat, but that’s really just an event on my personal calendar…

Book 2

You guys, as a Youtuber might say, we are almost there. In a couple of weeks, Book 2 will be done*. (Can I just give you some unsolicited advice? If you are an aspiring writer who dreams of getting a book deal, here’s what you need to do the second you type THE END on the submission draft of the book you hope will get you published: open a new document, type CHAPTER ONE and start the book after that. Don’t wait, because if your dreams come true, there’ll be lots of shiny exciting fun stuff that will distract you and your deadlines will crumble to dust.) I can’t wait to tell you about it, share the title, show you the cover, etc. but I can’t do any of that just yet. What I can say is:

  • It’s another standalone thriller
  • It’s due for publication early next year
  • It’s set on dry land and that dry land is Dublin, but water does feature.

*Ready for copyediting.

Book 3 (and How Do YOU Track Your Word Count?)

Book three?! I know, right? How did we even get here? Well, that’s what I’ll be doing this summer: writing the first draft of my third thriller. I have an idea that I’m really, really excited about, as my writing friends will testify to because I’ve been blabbing about it— I mean, um, testing it out on them for months now.

One thing I really want to do is obsessively track my word count. I want to be able to say exactly how long it took me to write this novel. So, tell me: how do you track your word count? I was hoping to use Prolifiko after I read this fascinating article in The Guardian about how long – exactly – it took Wyl Menmuir to write his Booker-longlisted novel, but when I went to look at the app it wasn’t what I was expecting. (And you have to do a five day writing ‘challenge’ to unlock access. Um, no.) Have you used it? Are there alternatives? Any good apps? Or do you rely on spreadsheets, etc?

Let me know in the comments below because I really want something good I can use going forward. Any one who leaves a suggestion/comment on this topic will be entered into a draw for a prize that will probably consist of (a) a signed book, (b) something caffeinated, probably and (c) stationery so I have an excuse to buy some fancy stuff in London. (If you don’t track your word count at all it’s okay to leave a comment saying that. That counts as an entry.)

So, to recap:

  • Sherlock lives— I mean, this blog does
  • Distress Signals is discounted to $0.99 for a limited time – tell your friends!
  • Tell me how you track your word count/novel progress. You might win something…

I just sent out a newsletter. Have you signed up to receive my sporadic musings, eh? You should, if I do say so myself. 

Desk Dreams

I spent January working feverishly on the second draft of Book 2 which meant (a) a lot of sitting at my desk, (b) a lot of sitting at my desk late into the night and (c) a lot of sitting at my desk, looking around and thinking I despair. I live in an actual shoebox and so avoid adding too much furniture or doing too much decorating, not just because I rent but because there’s very little space to go around and extra things make the place look even smaller. But I was so sick of things not being exactly as I wanted them, I decided that in the gaps between drafts, I would give my desk a makeover. I would create, in the limited space I had and without going completely broke, the desk of my dreams. And here it is. Ta-daaa!

The idea: When I moved back to Ireland, the first thing I did was cover the walls of my teeny, tiny bedroom in my parents’ house in framed pictures. I wasn’t living abroad anymore, so the next best thing was to surround myself with happy memories of it. That’s what I wanted to do here: I’m stuck at my desk, so I might as well be surrounded by nice, pretty things while I’m stuck there.

The furniture: I have a Micke desk from IKEA (I bought my pink trim version over two years ago. I don’t think they still do it but they do have other colours, including plain white) to which I added an extension. My bookcase is from their Kallax range, with one drawer insert and one of their paper storage boxes that fit perfectly. Finally I decided that after years of sitting in dining chairs, I deserved a proper, comfy chair and – guess what? That’s from Ikea too!

The decoration: My pink lamp is from Dunnes Stores (I’m told the pink version will be restocked in the summer; for now they have a beige and a blue), my Scrabble tile lights were bought by Santa a couple of Christmases ago, my pink file folders are from Ban.do and the rose gold holder they sit in is from KikkiK, and my A6 lightbox and little plant are from New Look. There are also little bargain touches from places like Sostrene Grene and Flying Tiger.

(And yes, it’s neat. But when you live in a small space, you have to keep things neat because it’s like you put a single crumpled receipt from your pocket onto the dining table and then BAM! The next thing you know you’re on Hoarders. And also, don’t you think I might have tidied up before I took pictures to put online? And procrastinators have to be neat, because tidying up is a great procrastination activity. So, yeah. It’s neat. Get over it.)

The typewriter: My new baby is by We R Memory Keepers and the pink version is exclusive to Michaels, a craft/hobbies superstore in the US. I always, always, always said I’d get myself a pink typewriter and now I (finally) have. LOOK HOW PRETTY!

Tip: Michaels only ships to US addresses, so I had to overcome that in some way. I signed up for MyUS.com which gives you a US address for $7 a month, so you can take advantage of free shipping from online US stores and then have stuff reshipped to your home address. Now it is – or can be – a bit pricey to have these things shipped across the Atlantic, but the good thing is that you can consolidate packages and save. And I have to say, I experienced fabulous service. I bought the typewriter and a replacement ribbon, which Michaels shipped to my virtual US address separately. When the typewriter arrived here in Ireland, the replacement ribbon had been tucked carefully inside the typewriter’s box, and that box had been carefully replaced in the box it had shipped in originally, and alongside the ribbon was a signed note from the MyUS.com packer. Not only did it get here quickly, but I really felt they were as careful with it as I would’ve been myself. And this is just my unbiased, average customer opinion – this isn’t sponsored, or anything!

For balance, this is my desk from several years ago – 2010, I think –  when I was back living with my parents after coming home from the States and just had a tiny desk pushed up against my bedroom wall. Bit of an improvement, eh? (Also, is that TEA?!)

Let’s just do a side-by-side, shall we?

Places that are good for buying cute home accessories/stationery stuff from: Kikki.K, Sostrene Grene, My Shining Armour, Paperchase, Dunnes, Flying Tiger, The Range, Typo and obviously IKEA. (‘You’re welcome’ – not something your credit card is going to be saying.)

Now to actually do some work here…

If you live in Ireland or the UK, Distress Signals is currently just 99p!

The Obligatory St Patrick’s Day Post

It occurred to me that I should write something about Ireland or with an Irish theme in order to coincide with St Patrick’s Day* and cynically take advantage of the increased Ireland-themed traffic from Google, etc. But what to write about? I am Irish, we’ve established that. I wrote a book about Irish people that’s partly set in Cork (that’s just 99p to download the moment. Go! Quick!) but I’ve already blogged about that ad nauseam. We know what my least favourite Irish TV show ever made is. What else Irish can I blog about?

May I present…

My Top 5 Favourite Irish Things 

… that I can think of this morning, and in no particular order.

taytos1. Tayto

Tayto (or Taytos – or Taytoes?) is a brand of Irish crisp, crisps being what Americans call chips. But it is also so much more than that, for Tayto is THE brand of crisp, not just in Ireland but worldwide. And here’s the kicker: they only bloody invented cheese and onion. Yep, without this little island, the world may never have had cheese and onion flavoured chips crisps. Fun fact: there is even a Tayto-themed theme park. Fun fact number 2: the best way to consume cheese and onion Tayto is alternating bites with squares of Cadbury’s Dairymilk, but not the powdery bitter kind the sell in the States. Actual Cadbury’s Dairymilk, bought here or in the UK. You’re welcome.

inthewoods

2. Tana French

National treasure Tana French is one of my favourite crime writers (and the woman who beat me to Irish Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards last November BUT LET’S NOT DWELL ON THAT.) I discovered French back when I was living in Orlando, and browsing the New Fiction section of my local Barnes and Noble. I picked up In the Woods because it looked interesting, and was surprised to discover that not only was it set in Dublin, but French was Irish too. I’ve been hooked ever since. What I like about French is that she is unapologetic in her Irishness; readers from abroad, presumably, just have to work out for themselves what the hell her characters are saying to each other, because they talk and act like real Irish people. Plus she can spin a damn good yarn, and I’ll never forget the shock of that In the Woods ending.

IrishFlag

3. Everyone wants to be one of us

I didn’t really understand this until I moved to the States and every Meet A New Person conversation included the line, ‘I’m Irish’ or ‘My family’s from [insert Irish town]’ which was very confusing for me because they were obviously not. America is a young country and what Americans mean when they claim Irishness (or ‘one-sixteenth’ of it as someone once did with me) is their heritage, their ancestry. The upper tiers of the family tree. I get that. The problem is people don’t use words like ancestry or heritage. They just say ‘I’m Irish’ and we can’t both do that, because that makes one of us factually incorrect and the other feel like their nationality is diminished by the sheer fact that every second person they meet in another country a few thousand miles away – where they and their parents were born and where they’ve lived all their lives – claims to be the same. It’s wonderful that everyone wants to be Irish, but if you want to tell any of us about your Irish ancestry, please, use that word. We’ll be delighted to hear about it. (But sadly, no, chances are we don’t know John Murphy. At least not the same one.)

4. Father Ted

Father Ted is probably the greatest Irish TV show ever made. I certainly can’t think of one that is better or has endured as long or has entered the popular culture to the point where no protest can take place in this country without a ‘Down with that sort of thing!’ sign. It was a sitcom about a trio of, respectively, drunk, idiot and morally corrupt Irish Catholic priests – and their tea-loving housekeeper – who had been banished to Craggy Island. (Grey’s Anatomy fans might spot a familiar face in the clip above, and none of us will EVER forget our introduction to national treasure Graham Norton, which occurred on this show.)

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5. Dublin

I moved to Dublin back in September 2014, because I was starting my degree at Trinity College. It’s a beautiful place when the sun shines, and the other 51 weeks of the year at least there’s plenty of cafes, bookshops and museums to hide in. And there’s so much history here, especially when it comes to writers and their books. For instance, a few weeks ago on a class trip, I visited Marsh’s Library for the first time and got to see where an eighteen-year-old’s Bram Stoker had signed the register for the reading room. Dublin is so much more than the Guinness Storehouse, a trad music session in Temple Bar and 57 branches of Carroll’s souvenir shops. I love it here. But I do recommend you visit during that one week of summer.

Cork, where I’m from, is alright too. We’ve got Titanic stuff.

(I’m joking, obviously. The seven sunny days are never consecutive.)

So that’s it. Have you been to Ireland? What do you like about us? Let us (all?) know in the comments below… 

*It is St Patrick’s Day, Patrick’s Day or Paddy’s Day. St Pat’s is just about acceptable, but Patty’s Day is not. It is absolutely not, has never been or ever will be anything involving the word ‘patty’. Patty is short for Patricia and a patty is food, and neither of those have ANYTHING AT ALL to do with St Patrick’s Day. You do not get to decide what our national holiday is called. Thank you for your attention. Now go do us proud and get messy drunk. 

How To Get Published in Just 50 Easy Steps

(Did you miss me? After the craziness of the Distress Signals month-long blogging bonanza, I decided to give you all a month off from me. Well, a month and a bit. Also, since I last blogged WordPress have hidden the ‘justify paragraph’ button from me and it is driving. Me. CUCKOO. I can’t even look at this left-aligned. Oh my God. Deep breaths. Wait! Keyboard shortcuts! YES. Okay. It’s all okay. Everything’s going to be okay. Breathe… Okay. Anyway.)

As of February 1, this little blog is a staggering SEVEN years old. One of the first posts I published on here was a tongue-in-cheek How To Write A Novel in 37 Easy Steps. So, seven years and a bit on, and to break my post-blogging-bonanza fast, I’ve decided to update that – or rather, continue it.

How To Get Published in Just 50 Easy Steps! 

  1. Decide, aged 8, that you are going to be a novelist.
  2. Ask Santa for a typewriter.
  3. Ask your parents for an electronic typewriter.
  4. Ask your parents for a PC.
  5. Spend much of your late teens carrying the first three chapters of your first attempt at a novel, a Formula 1-themed thriller named Chequered Flag, around on a floppy disk. By ‘novel’ read ‘excuse to daydream about Jacques Villeneuve’s abs on the cover of Jacques Villeneuve: A Champion in Pictures’…
  6. Sorry, drifted off there.
  7. Avoid studying for your own Leaving Cert, i.e. the final exams in Irish school, by writing a funny but quite pointless YA novel about avoiding studying for the Leaving Cert. Submit it to a publisher whose office is 5 minutes’ drive from your house, because you think geographical proximity will help seal the deal.
  8. Get rejected.
  9. Tell your parents you need a laptop ‘for college’.
  10. Go to college.
  11. Drop out of college.
  12. Go to NYC for a week’s holiday and think this qualifies you to write from the POV of a NYPD detective. Submit your (god awful) attempt at a detective novel via post to a top London agent and get so swiftly rejected that SAE arrives back at your house before you do.
  13. Stop writing. Pretend that reading books about writing will move you closer to your published novelist dreams in the meantime.
  14. Quit your crappy job working in a greeting card store.
  15. Quit your pleasantly boring job working in an auctioneer’s office.
  16. Take a job in the Netherlands.
  17. Take a job in France.
  18. Take a job in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
  19. Buy John Mayer’s Continuum album and put ‘Stop This Train’ on repeat for 36 days. (This is KEY.)
  20. Go backpacking in Central America.
  21. Start writing a book about number 18 after you return home to Cork.
  22. Find an agent who is interested in said book but cannot represent you on the strength of it due to there being only about 23 people in the whole world who’d be interested in reading it and even less in buying it (probably).
  23. Tell agent you are already writing a novel. (This is a big fat LIE.)
  24. Decide you can’t write the novel because your soul-destroying job is slowly but surely sucking all the life force out of your blackening soul and if you don’t do something about it soon your heart will be an empty abyss of abandoned dreams, bitterness and contempt.
  25. Quit your job – in the middle of a devastating economic recession, for maximum dramatic effect.
  26. Put a MacBook on your credit card, because you simply cannot work under these conditions.
  27. Use your savings to relocate to an isolated and slightly scary holiday home by the sea (in winter, in Ireland) with two coffee machines and your new computer.
  28. Write a comic, corporate satire, chick-litty novel. Describe it The Devil Wears Prada meets Weightwatchers.
  29. Start submitting the novel to agents and editors.
  30. Buy John Mayer’s new Battle Studies album and put the song Assassins on repeat for thirteen days. (No, really. This is KEY.)
  31. Self-publish the Disney book, i.e. Mousetrapped.
  32. Read an article about cruise ship disappearances in a magazine that someone left behind them in a café that your mum was in shortly before she picked it up and brought it home.
  33. Write a book about number 20.
  34. Self-publish that book, i.e. Backpacked.
  35. Get a meeting at a Major Publishing House by way of your friend Vanessa. The MPH don’t like the Weightwatchers Prada book, but they do like your writing. Tell them you’ll write something else.
  36. Writing something else (well, a synopsis and three chapters of it) and send it to the MPH.
  37. Writing something else else (well, a synopsis and three chapters of it) and send it to the MPH.
  38. Write something else else else (well, a synopsis and three chapters of it) and sent it to the MPH.
  39. Go for a meeting at the MPH and get offered freelance work using social media to promote their commercial fiction titles instead. Be very excited about this.
  40. Get an idea for a thriller from number 32. Write 30,000 words of it.
  41. Stop.
  42. Buy John Mayer’s Born and Raised and put the title track on repeat for the entire month of May.
  43. Let a year pass.
  44. Struggle to find anything to play on repeat on Mayer’s Paradise Valley. *tear*
  45. Decide to apply to return to university as a mature student to student English Literature.
  46. Panic when you actually get in, as this necessitates a move to Dublin. Use the panic to push past the 30,000 barrier and finish the thriller. Call it Dark Waters. Start submitting it to agents.
  47. Go to college. Stay this time. Use this as a distraction from the UTTER DEVASTATION OF REJECTION.
  48. Unexpectedly get offer of representation from dream agent while sitting in a coffee-shop near college waiting for your American Genres lecture and looking out at grey and gloomy rain. (Hooray!)
  49. Work with agent’s amazing in-house editor to write a second draft of the thriller. Change the name to Adrift.
  50. Get a 2-book deal. (Bigger hooray!) Change book’s name to Distress Signals. Start buying everything you see with an anchor on it and planning your book launch like it’s your wedding.

If you want to read Distress Signals, check it out here for Ireland/UK and here for the USA. Also if you’re in Dublin this Saturday, I’m chairing a panel on self-publishing at the Irish Writers’ Centre Women Aloud NI IWD event. Get more info on that here.

Also, on a more serious note, there’s an update on the Irish resident accused of murdering his wife on the MSC Magnifica. In a line that could’ve come from Distress Signals, his lawyer has said to reporters, ‘If this was murder, where is the body? Where are the witnesses?’ (There are neither because, of course, this is a cruise ship.) A working theory is that he allegedly stuffed her body into a suitcase and threw it from the balcony of their Deck 11 cabin. You can read more about this terrible case here.

Next time on Catherine’s blog: the Great Desk Redesign of 2017! It involves an actual pink typewriter. AN ACTUAL ONE.