A Little Failure mixed with a Big Success

I didn’t post last weekend and this post is not directly related to my writing life but here goes. I hope you like the short video of what I was doing on Saturday. Most of you know that I have a schipperke puppy named Turlough. For the last year, Turlough and I have been learning agility. I’ve dreamed for a long time about running around the agility arena with this amazingly fast puppy. Finally, last weekend we participated in our first official trial. What a disaster for me and what fun for Turlough. The first day when I walked out onto the trial area I was struck by stage fright. Turlough and I didn’t last long out there. This video is from the second day…I did a little bit better and Turlough took some of the jumps and weave poles before just having fun.

The analogy I want to make here between being an indie writer and trying to qualify in an agility trial is this: life is full of obstacles. Some of the obstacles are a jump, others are a tunnel or weave poles. The main lesson for me is to keep going. The likes, shares, and reviews I get from readers are my big successes and mean so much to me as a writer. I don’t always have the amount of time I want at my writing desk. I often have self-doubts about my ability. These are my obstacles, my little failures, that with practice and commitment I intend to overcome.

In the meanwhile, keep the love going. Martha

2020 Here We Are

December 2017 in French Hill, Castlebar, County Mayo – May the Road Rise Up to Meet You

Welcome back to everyone who may have been away during the holidays or who may have just taken a break from social media. I trust your holiday was just right for you. Low-key is a good adjective to describe mine. We went to the movies, church, socialized with friends, and spoke to family on the phone. I made my annual walnut-carrot cake with lemon cream cheese icing for a neighborhood gathering. I also made my pumpkin zucchini bread for me (it’s gluten free). And, oh yea, I had cataract surgery the day after Christmas.

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? I don’t usually make too many because by the second week of January, I’ve broken them. But this year I did choose a word to represent what I aim to embrace in 2020:


So…I’m planning to smile more, to embrace each day, to see the blue sky, to hear the rain, to love all that is part of my life. How about you?

In the meanwhile, keep the love going.


Be There

If you happen to be reading my blog post, I have a request: shut down your computer or phone and just “be there”. Be there for you. In my mystery series, Star O’Brien often says she becomes involved in the “heart of a mystery”. In the middle of all the hectic and sometimes not so hectic moments of caring for others during the holiday season, take a tiny pilgrimage into the mystery of your heart, of your being. Just be there for you. And then, you can be there for others.

Lough Lannagh, Castlebar, County Mayo with Croagh Patrick, the pilgrimage mountain in the distance.

I’ve got homework; maybe you can help.

I am taking an eight week online writing course: Outlining Your Novel. The course began this week. I’m already an outliner. I use a dedicated spiral bound notebook to outline each book before I begin writing. I write out the purpose/theme; character descriptions and motivations; setting descriptions; and so on.

I want to be a better writer and thus I want to try out different outlining methods. One of the course outcomes is an outline of a novel. I plan to work on the third book in the Star O’Brien series. I’m excited about being able to move from the outline right into writing the book.

So this all brings me to my first homework assignment: write a review of my book as if I’m a reader of the series. This is a difficult one but I’m working on it today. Here’s where those of you who have read Death on Clare Island might be able to help. If you have time, maybe you would post a word, a phrase, or a sentence saying what you liked.

Thank you.

In the meanwhile, keep the love going, Martha

Sometimes life is like a puppy’s dilemma.

Sometimes life is like a puppy’s dilemma. I use that phrase with a touch of humor this week. A lot happened. My good friend and author, Nick Johns agreed to read and provide feedback for Death at Ashford Castle. This is the second time Nick will spin through all 70, 000 words. He’s detail oriented so I know he’ll provide valuable feedback. And, if you like to read survival, apocalyptic type novels, check out his book The Darkest Winter on Amazon.

While Nick is busy with his review, I printed out all 245 pages and began reading them aloud to Bill. I’m using post-its in a variety of colors to make notes on each page. Next week I’ll update the current version with what I found during the read through. By the way, Bill likes it so far!

Then, the cover designer, Robin Vuchnich, sent me two cover design options to consider. It’s a difficult decision! Both of them are absolutely beautiful. As an Indie author, I’ve been told that cover design makes a big difference in readership. So I’m really taking my time with this decision. A few of my friends looked at them and so far it’s a tie. Dang! I was hoping for a tiebreaker to make my life easier.

And, we are noodling on an image for each book cover that would alert readers immediately that this is a Star O’Brien mystery. I have an idea that’s related to Star’s search for her mother. Maybe it will work. By the way, you can check out Robin’s web site at: http://www.mycustombookcover.com.

So, as depicted in my puppy’s photo here. There’s a lot to do and decisions to make. It ain’t easy. As Turlough’s face seems to say: do I stick with the sock or my avocado stuffed toy? It’s a dilemma. And, it’s also all something I’m grateful for and love to do!

Turlough seemed to have a dilemma. First, he was caught in the act! Second, he had to choose: the sock or his avocado toy.

In the meanwhile, keep the love going.