W3 – Life of a writer series

Hello everyone!

How are you all? This has been a disaster of a week, writing wise! Wednesday and word count is a big fat zero! Nate is at home sick. He has asthma and this weather is not good for him. And with my husband away on business, it means I can only work when children are asleep.

But, you know what, that’s ok. Because I feel very lucky that I get to drop everything to be with Nate when he’s poorly. And thankfully, I got those rewrites on book 4 done before he got sick, so I am not under as much pressure as I would have been last week!

Quick pic to share with you. I get a small canvas print done of each book cover and today my Every Time A Bell Rings canvas arrived and has been added! Ta da!!! And it won’t be long till another one will be added, as book 4 cover is currently under construction!


What I’m doing this week are tasks that I can stop and start, without too much issue. For e.g. this post has taken me about 4 hours so far, with all my interruptions from the little man.

What I’m working on:-

Book 5 Preparation

You might remember I was dithering between two different ideas for book 5. Decision has now been made. One just sang louder to me. Before I start to actually write it though, I’ve got quite a few tasks to do. My aim is to get these completed by end of the week.

  • Single sentence

I like to write a single sentence for each of my novels. I write a tag line that gives a broad idea as to what the plot is.

Here’s one I did for Book 4 (Untitled, out Jun 16′) – As pops life’s journey draws to a close, he sends his family on a life-changing adventure in a campervan, guided only by his letters, wisdom and love.

This will become your selling tool for your WIP moving forward & can be used in all synopsis, cover letters, queries …
Think of it as an essential hook to sell your book to an agent or editor. Or even a bookshop if you are self publishing. The one-line blurbs on the New York Times Bestseller list are a great example to get an idea as to what you should aim for …

Love The Martian one … “Abandoned by his crew, an astronaut embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive.”

  • Elevator pitch

This should be approx 300 words – something you would use in a press release. And again, something you can use as a base to create a book blurb for your novel.

I like to include my elevator pitch at the top of my synopsis. Here’s the working pitch for Book 4 to give you an idea what I mean.

Every family has a story. This one is falling apart.

As Pops nears the end of his life, he has a final gift for his family. Things are spiralling out of control for the Guinness family and their once strong family unit is slowly falling apart…

For the Guinness family a happy ending looks out of reach, until pops throws them a lifeline.

Olly, Mae, Evie & Jamie embark on a life changing adventure in a campervan, guided only by Pops letters, his wisdom and his love.

Against the breathtaking beauty of Europe, ?, is a life-affirming, funny and sometimes heartbreaking story of how one family fight to find their way back home to each other. 

Because after all, as they learn from Pops, all that matters is family.

  • Character Sketches

Vital before you start to write. You need to have at least a basic understanding of who your main protagonists/antagonists are. You will of course find that they change as the novel progresses and thats fine.

I like to ask my characters lots of questions. I find by doing this, I get into their heads and they begin to feel real to me. There’s 100’s of Q’s I like to throw at each of my main characters, but here’s a sample of some of the basics, that form the basis of my character sketches.

  1. What is your full name? Do you have a nickname?
  2. Where and when were you born? Do you still live there now?
  3. Who are/were your parents? (Know their names, occupations, personalities, etc.)
  4. Do you have any siblings? What are/were they like?
  5. What is your occupation? Do you like it?
  6. Describe yourself – critically. Head to toe! I want to know if you have any tattoos, piercings, birth marks …
  7. To which social class do you belong?
  8. What does your voice sound like? Do you use slang? Do you use bad language?
  9. What words and/or phrases do you use very frequently?
  10. Do you have any quirks or strange mannerisms?
  • Synopsis

This is something that a lot of authors struggle with, me included! I need to write 1-2 pages outlining the plot & main characters. And this is where most of us struggle – how can we condense a 100,000 word novel to a few pages? But it’s imperative that you work at this, because this document, will be used  as part of your submission package to a publisher or agent. The synopsis is your sales pitch, so don’t skimp on this exercise. Take your time. For me, I know that it will change by the end of the novel writing process, because I know that it’s only as I get into the story, that the plot will change and evolve. That’s okay too.

By the way, I like to work with a writing software package called Scrivener. It takes a little bit of time to navigate and get used to, but once you conquer it, it will make plotting your novel so much easier.

Here’s a tutorial I found to be really useful, that might help get you started if you chose to do so.





Do you know what the PLR scheme is? When I started to write, I didn’t know, so I thought it was worth sharing this, in case anyone following my series, is in the dark.

PLR is the Public Lending Right and all published authors  have a legal right to payment from government in UK & Ireland each time their books are borrowed from public libraries.

To make this happen, you need to register with PLR here

Once registered, you add each of your books to the register, in ALL formats. Trade Paperback, Mass Paperback, Audio etc …

Every February the PLR provides you with your statement and it’s a lovely little boost when it arrives! Last year, my statement was tiny, this year a little more and as more books are added it will grow.

You need to state how you want to be paid – in Ireland, we can opt to have payment made through the ICLA – Irish Copyright Licensing Agency.

They will write to you once the statements are online and ask you for your bank account details, so that they can make the payment to you. My letter arrived today incidentally.

It all works really seamlessly – so make it a priority to get your book registered if you are a published author.

Oh, and before I go, I did have some nice news the other day. My second novel, The Life You Left, will be translated and published in Norway, Finland and Sweden in April 16′. If you fancy seeing how happy that made me, here’s a little VLOG I shared on my FB page.

Click here

So that’s it all for now,

Have a great week whatever you are doing, and I’ll check in again early next week – hopefully with a house full of healthy children, so I can start to write!

Chat soon,

Carmel x





  1. The joys of writing with children, eh? Admire your methodical, structured approach – your scaffolding when life gets messy!

    • That’s exactly it Derbhile. Theres a lot that I can’t plan, and once I get going, a lot of my initial plans, go south, when characters start to get noisy! But it’s a great place to kick off from. Hope all is well with you and family.

  2. Pingback: W4 – Life of a Writer | Carmel Harrington Author

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