W5 – Life of a writer series

I’m feeling a little blue this evening, processing the loss of Sir Terry Wogan. It’s incredible how someone you haven’t met, can still be part of your life. I’m thinking of his family and friends, knowing that however sad we, as his fans feel, they are devastated. I think we’re all glad to say goodbye to January, it’s been so gloomy hasn’t it? Let’s hope that February will be a kinder month.

On a happier note, on this, the 1st Feb, I got to bottle feed a one day old lamb today! My dad has one and the children and I had the pleasure of feeding it. Name at the moment is ‘Little Lamb’, but I’m sure the kids can come up with something a little more inspired as the week progresses. Our thinking hats are on! Nate reckons that Little Lamb thinks I’m his mummy. He did take a shine to me, but the feeling was mutual. Gorgeous bundle of cuteness, all legs and big eyes.

Last week was a good week as I pretty much accomplished all I planned. And the Harper Collins Ireland event I told you about last week, was a wonderful evening. There was champagne, Savoy cocktails, fab food in Diep le Shaker and great company, from the book world in Ireland.

In the first picture below, L-R,  are: Mary Byrne (Harper Collins), Fionnuala Kearney (Author), Kate Bradley (Editor), Hazel Gaynor (Author), me, Ann-Marie Dolan (Harper Collins) and Tony Purdue (Harper Collins).

The second pic, is of the gorgeous camper van chocolate treats that all the guests at dinner were given. All in honour of my next book! You see, book 4, out on 30th June, is about the Guinness family who spend a summer touring Europe in a campervan. These treats were a nod to my new book. How cool is that?!

But it’s not all parties in this life of a writer. There’s work to be done and this week, I’ve a lot to get through before Friday. And I’m laughing here, because there IS another party this week. This time for Amelia’s 6th birthday!

Here’s what I have to get through before it’s time for cake and a room full of sugar filled 6 year olds … it’s actually a really good example of the mix of things I do in my life as a writer – Freelance writing, Radio, TV, Book Writing!

Freelance Writing

First priority is to submit copy to The Irish Independent by Friday. I’ve a little research to do and some case studies to pull together, then I’ll get writing by mid week. I really enjoy my feature articles. It uses a different part of my brain and it’s nice to flex it every few weeks.

South East Radio

Tomorrow I’m a guest panelist talking about Barbie dolls! Have you heard that Mattel are introducing a new range of dolls – with more realistic body types? Tall, curvy, petite, different skin tones and features. I do these guest slots every now and then and it’s always fun. I’ll be doing this by phone though, as I need to be in Dublin for ….

TV3 Midday

Tomorrow I’m back on TV3’s Midday show. I’ll be back on again 18th/19th. I love doing this show, it’s genuinely a lot of fun and despite being live, relatively stress free! That’s a lot due to Elaine Crowley, the presenter. She’s superb at her role, makes it easy for the rest of us. And lets face it, I’m always happy having an auld gossip!

The Plot Thickens!

And of course, Book 5 still needs to be written – the clock is ticking! Five months till my deadline to submit arrives. No pressure so! When I drive to Dublin tomorrow, I’ll be running through scenes in my head. By the way, if you see me out and about in Wexico, I’m not crazy, I’m just writing my book in my head, as I talk out loud to myself! It’s how I get the story straight, before I start to put words down. I don’t think there’s a waking moment that I’m not thinking about my characters right now, trying to understand them, see what trouble they are getting themselves into. I’ve three main characters, two female, one male and it’s the man that’s giving me the most trouble. Ha! Ain’t that always the way! I know what his main function in the novel is, but I need to know what makes him tick and understand what makes him unique. I’m going to play around with a few scenes in my head tomorrow and see if he shows himself.

And then, before the end of the week, my plan is to write the first chapter. I have a strong idea in my head as to how this story starts. Time to see how it flows …

By the way, I’m often asked about chapter length by writers who attend my creative writing classes. For me, they always vary! If I had a gun to my head, I’d say aim for about 2000 words, but assuming you’ve read my books, you’ll know that some of my chapters are double or half that. What’s more important, is that each chapter in a novel tells a story and plays a part in moving the plot forward. If you can do that in 500 words and the scene is complete, maybe that is a good place to end your chapter. Your content dictates your chapter length, as opposed to any self imposed guidelines. Does that make sense?

Some writers like to write one continuous story and place the chapter divisions in at the end. I don’t recommend this myself though. I like to give each of my chapters a subject header, reminding me of the main scene it holds. Trawling through 100,000 words to find a scene in the edit stage could be tricky otherwise!

Have a great week everyone, if you tune into Midday, I’ll be waving at just you!










  1. Great post Carmel. And aren’t you the busy bee!!! Looking forward to catching up this week. xx

  2. Reblogged this on Trace Literary Agency and commented:
    Great post by Carmel Harrington.

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