Here you will find stories, facts, folklore, and a sneak peek at the writing tips you may expect to encounter on Ireland Writer Tours . . . 

 Here's a tiny taste of what you'll learn from
guest instructor, Eliza Knight, if you're joining us this July ...
 Cross-Genre AuthorBranding
There is no hard and fast rule that states you must only write in one genre. In fact, there’s a good number of authors who prefer to write in multiple genres for various reasons. It may be that your passion lies in more than one genre, or perhaps you’re a prolific writer who can pen several books a year, but your publisher only has room for a certain amount on their publishing calendar. Whatever the reason may be, one thing you’ll have to consider is your author branding. 

Author branding is how you are perceived by readers. It is your “voice” and sets the expectation in their minds for what they are going to get when they pick up one of your books. Think about your favorite author—you know when you read their book what you’re going to get. When you go to their website, or social media, their branding is evident. You won’t find unicorns and puppies on Stephen King’s website, just like you won’t find scary clowns and possessed cats on Colleen Hoover’s website. Author branding is all about the image. The image you create with your internet presence and your body of work. It will be present in your logos, banners, covers, websites, social media, and of course in your writing.

After you’ve made the decision to write in multiple genres, you’ll have to consider whether or not you want to write under one name, or come up with a pseudonym for the other genre. There is no right or wrong way to go about this. But your branding will differ, depending. If you have multiple names, you only need to worry about branding to those names/genres. However, this will require you to have multiple websites and social media platforms. If you decide to write all genres under one name, this requires you to create an internet presence that covers all bases. One thing to keep in mind with author branding, is that you are really branding yourself, it is your voice that readers will be drawn to.
At one point, I was writing under Eliza Knight and E. Knight, but have since gone to writing as simply Eliza Knight for both genres. This was an easy decision for me for two reasons. One: both of my genres are historically based – historical fiction and historical romance. My logo is simple and stylized to match both genres. The second reason was that I have a lot of cross-genre audience, so having the two names wasn’t necessary, and actually became confusing. Are the multiple genres you plan to write in similar? Or will it be beneficial for you to have a new name?

In the case of Nora Roberts who is a prolific romance author, she chose the name J.D. Robb for her suspense genre. When she first started out, the covers of her books would say “Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb.” Now, she’s built up a vast following, and they no longer say Nora Roberts. In her case, the addition of her popular name on the cover helped build the brand and audience for J.D. Robb. J.K. Rowling wrote her adult novels as Robert Galbraith, allegedly because she wanted to start that side of her career fresh, and when she was outed, chose to keep writing under that name for the distinction between names – adult and children’s fiction.

Just as there are many authors who choose to write with multiple author names, there are those who choose to write multiple genres as one name. Stephen King, for example who writes horror as well as science fiction and several other genres. Emma Donoghue writes historical fiction, thriller and gothic. Isabel Allende writes magical realism and mysteries. Kristin Hannah writes contemporary women’s fiction and historical fiction.

If you decide that you’d like to keep one name to write under, are there any common themes you can link together? For example, I write about strong, independent women, and there is always some sort of familial dynamic going on. Can you capitalize on a theme? Can the theme leak into your various genres as a familiar thread your readers can connect with?

Take a look at some of your favorite authors’ websites, their social media. How are they branding themselves and their writing?

Things to consider besides your name(s), are whether you’ll have more than one website, or separate designated genre pages on one website. If you choose to have one website, err on simplicity to avoid reader confusion.

How are you going to tackle the multiple genres in your newsletter? Social media? Keep in mind that your audiences may not be the same, and one may or may not be receptive to hearing about all the books you write. I have multiple newsletters designated to my audiences so that I can focus on one genre for those folks who only care about one, and then a combined on for my cross-genre readers.

Now it’s time for you to do some brainstorming. Answer the following questions when coming up with your plan:

  • What genres do you want to write in?
  • Will you write under one name, or have multiple pseudonyms?
  • How will you brand yourself accordingly—what is the image you want readers to perceive?
  • Do you have a central theme?
  • How will you handle your logo, website, social media platforms, newsletter?

Good luck!

 The Magnificence of Nature
If you're joining us this summer for the Ireland Writer Tour, this magnificent feat of nature is one of the many sights that can inspire you and, perhaps, even empower your writing.

The Cliffs of Moher are, without a doubt, the most popular sight in Ireland. These dramatic 700 foot cliffs are at the edge of the Burren in the far west of Ireland, and are referred to by some as 'the eighth wonder of the world.' 

Imagine Ireland as a giant chocolate cake with green icing on top and floating on a large body of water. It’s as if someone cut off a large slice of that cake, leaving these cliffs at the edge of the plate.

When you stand on the cliffs, the Atlantic crashes dramatically far below and seagulls scream as they soar beneath you. The cliffs consist mainly of beds of Namurian shale and sandstone. It is possible to see 300 million year-old river channels cutting through, forming unconformities at the base of the cliffs. Approximately 30,000 birds from 20 different species live on the cliffs.

In the old Irish language, the word Mothar meant ‘ruined fort.’ There was a fort on these cliffs a couple thousand years ago, but even though there is no trace of the thing now, its name still lingers. The Cliffs of Moher, or cliffs of the ruined fort, include an indoor exhibition, a long walkway, and a viewing tower. 

There are loads of stories connected to this place—legends about a mermaid, an eel that ate corpses, and a lost city beneath the waves. Part of the Spanish Armada hid in one of the caves at the bottom of the cliffs, Napoleon Bonaparte built a signal tower here, and back in 1835 Cornelius O’Brien built the even bigger tower you see in the photo above. The cliffs were renamed ‘The Cliffs of Insanity’ for their role in The Princess Bride, and in 2009 Dumbledore brought Harry Potter here in the Half-Blood Prince. 

This summer, your personal story can include this legendary location, too. 

Our July Instructor, Eliza Knight, has been published many times over, via both self-publishing, and traditional. You couldn't ask for a better expert to advise you about:
  Is Self-Publishing Right For You?
Self-publishing is not something new, nor was it just invented in 2010, which is widely considered the start of the commercial indie boom. Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe and even Stephen King dabbled in self-publishing before it was “in.”

Within the last decade or so, the landscape of book publishing has changed dramatically, opening the doors to more writers who have stories to tell—and that was when self-publishing, (or indie publishing, not to be confused with indie press or vanity press) became a more viable option for today’s writers.

What exactly is self-publishing, and how do you know if it’s the right move for you? This seems like a relatively easy question; however, I find that a lot of people have a certain idea and not the whole picture.

Self-publishing is the publication of an author’s work by that author with no involvement from a third-party publisher. The author is in control of all elements in regards to the publication process. Essentially, if you are self-publishing a book—YOU are now the publisher.

Now, I must be clear about something—just because you are the publisher DOES NOT mean you have to do all the work yourself. If you did, you wouldn’t have enough time to write. I am a firm believer in parceling out pieces to those who are experienced in critical areas. For example, hiring a cover designer. If you weren’t trained as a graphic designer, then you should not make your own cover. But if you download the program Vellum for example, you can do you own formatting of your finished book easily. A word on editors/copy-editors/proofreaders: every book needs a second set of eyes minimum, and I don’t mean your neighbor, or your spouse—unless they are a professional editor. Having an editor review your work is worth the cost. I can’t tell you how many times a new indie author has forgone this essential element in publishing and has the negative reviews to show for it. 

So, what is ALL THE WORK involved in self-publishing?

  • Writing
  • Editing/Copy-editing/Proofreading
  • Beta Readers
  • Reviewers
  • Cover Art
  • Formatting
  • Uploading/Distributing
  • Pricing
  • Marketing/Promotion
  • Financial/Accounting/Taxes
  • Organization/Planning
  • Legal aspects (business entity, copyright, piracy, etc…) 
As you can see, there are many elements that go into publishing your own book besides just writing it and tossing it online—and it is not a decision to be made lightly. I say this, because it will take a lot of work, and possibly more than you considered. People are often surprised at how time-consuming the business side of writing can be. I personally spend only 50% of my working hours writing, the rest is the business side. I want everyone to be prepared for the effort it takes. I’m not saying this to scare you away, but rather to prepare you, so you aren’t surprised. And I will reenforce that the reward for doing it well is that you have more control over your own writing, publishing schedule and income.

One of the most important pieces of advice I can give you is this: don’t rush it. Take your time and put out the best work possible, so that you succeed.
If you’re joining me this summer with Ireland Writer Tours, then we’ll go much further into this, breaking your self-publishing journey into measurable, achievable tasks and goals. I’ll be sharing with you my methods, which have helped me achieve an annual six-figure income for a decade, and have helped many other authors achieve their publishing dreams.

A Haunted Landscape

When Roman Christianity invaded Ireland in the 12th century, a shameful Irish custom began, and continued until the 1960s. It was decreed that no unbaptised child or individual could be buried in consecrated ground. This was a concept used by theologians in an effort to compel individuals to be baptised into the Catholic faith.

Most unbaptised children, as well as victims of murder, disease or suicide, were buried in a lisheen. One such lisheen lies in the Ower countryside of County Galway, on the Black River. It is atop an ancient Iron Age ring fort, which is now an overgrown forest. To previous generations, this ruin would have been a ‘faerie fort,’ a landscape haunted by the fey. A place in between worlds, much like the ‘Limbo,’ unbaptised babies would be resigned to. To reach the lisheen, you have to traverse around briars and prickly hawthorne trees. In the springtime, the ground in this forest is covered in beautiful white wild garlic flowers. Always there is an air of extreme peacefulness here—an almost eerie calm—occasionally punctuated by the fluting of birds in the trees overhead and the rush of the river far below.

The land slopes down into the forest and the ground is covered in tumbled, moss-covered stones. Headstones.
Back when most babies were born at home and infant mortality was high, parents suffered unbearable grief and anguish, believing that their child would never get to heaven or they’d never see their unbaptised loved ones again. Standing in this forest, it’s easy to imagine a father burdened with the task of bringing a baby here, probably under cover of darkness, and laying the tiny creature in a shallow grave without a wake, or any support from neighbours.

In the centre of this forest is a large rectangular mound of stones which it is said was once an altar where the local Franciscan monks said mass during the time of the Cromwell invasion.
The Ower lisheen, like most of the Irish landscape, is fertile both agriculturally and emotionally . . . a place where stories seem to come up out of the ground, grab you by the ankle, and demand, ‘Write me!’

If you're joining us this summer, prepare to be inspired!

Tackling a Writer's Greatest Challenge - Time Management

As I sit down to write this post, I’m racing the clock. I have an essay due for Writer’s Digest, pages due to my writing partner for a book we’re doing together, a full manuscript edit for a client, and my critique partner just sent me her novel for feedback. To say nothing of my children’s activities. Thank God I just unloaded my latest novel on my agent. Writers are busy. We’re stressed. We’re anxious. No matter how much time we have to write, it never feels like enough. So how do we survive it at all? Below, I’ve shared a few tips that have helped me stay afloat over the years. Also? Drink coffee and wine. Lots of it.

There’s no doubt about it, having a full-time job takes up the majority of our waking hours, making writing a challenge. I would suggest making a list of priorities and how much time you’d like to spend on each activity. Once you’ve done that, create a writing calendar of some sort. (I use a separate planner from the family calendar to keep it all straight. Anything writing-related from blog posts to speaking engagements to actual writing, I fill in on this calendar.) Treat your writing them as if it’s a non-negotiable appointment. If you tend to get home and want to crash with fatigue, try staying at work one extra hour in the evening, or getting in to work an extra hour early and spend it writing. This way when you come home, you’ve accomplished your writing and can shift into relaxation mode. Perhaps you prefer some down time first, and then write late at night. Set an attainable goal, check in with a writing partner, and get busy. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time, it just needs to be effective, focused time.
I started writing with a two year old and an infant. Luckily, I didn’t work full-time on top of this, but I did do part-time teaching and tutoring, and had no money for daycare and no family nearby. This is a toughie. You’re exhausted from the lack of sleep and barely keeping up with regular routine chores. How in the world can you fit in writing time? Everyone says to write while the kids nap, but for me, that wasn’t possible. I needed sleep then as well. What worked for me was to find an hour or two every other day or so when my husband came home from work. But the bulk of my writing didn’t happen until the weekends. I committed to write every Saturday and Sunday morning from seven to noon. I left plenty of milk in the fridge, packed my computer bag, and parked my derrière at Starbucks. Every.Single.Weekend. It helped eliminate distractions, and my leaving the house became a routine the family grew to expect. Just like a regular work or school schedule.

The most important thing to do during this time is to be kind to yourself. This sort of survival existence won’t last forever, though it may feel like it at the time. Take the time when you can, knowing you plan to move into a more regular schedule when the babies either sleep through the night, or go off to school.


This type of schedule presents its own problems. With fits and stops dispersed throughout your day or work week, it can be tough to find your flow. But just like the others, it’s important to block off chunks of scheduled time that are non-negotiable. Also, consider setting up a strict routine that helps you shift your brain into fiction mode. Clear off any clutter on your desk. Make a soundtrack associated with the book that you play each time you sit down to begin. Light candles. Prepare your mind space with this series of signals that mean “fiction time!”. This sort of repetitive practice has been studied at length and is proven to work. It may help you make the most of your truncated time.
Believe it or not, many who write full time wrestle with time management. It isn’t that they don’t have enough hours in the day, it’s that staying focused for long periods can be a challenge. For one, everyone is online during the week so Facebook and Twitter and Instagram are pinging like crazy. Your inbox is flooded with emails. There’s also this notion that writers don’t really “work” so friends want to meet for lunch, family wants to drop by, and so on. Distractions abound. Sometimes having less time means you’re more devoted to your writing periods. Isn’t there a saying about the busier you are, the more you accomplish? To you full-timers I say this: make a daily word count goal or page number if editing. Work in blocks of time, just like the others scrounging up time.

For example, my schedule looks like this:
7:00-8:00 is kids, coffee, and social media.
8:00-9:30 is some sort of exercise.
9:30-11:30 is writing time.
12:30-1:30 is lunch, emails, and perhaps a walk or some sort of movement.
1:30-3:30 is writing time.
3:30--- Kid pickups. If you don’t have kids, take a break for an hour and then sit down for another hour or two, or until you accomplish your goal.
· Studies show we stay focused better for shorter chunks of time and that three hours is the maximum quality time spent on a project at one time. Breaking up the day keeps productivity at a maximum.

· Find a writer friend who shares the same schedule as you do. Check in with each other the same time every day and do sprints. You can sprint against each other for highest word count, or you can just set goals for the hour and check in once the hour is concluded to check each other’s progress. Being held accountable to someone is a terrific way to stay motivated.

· Establish a routine to get your mind into fiction writing mode

· Set a timer after 30 minute or one-hour time periods so you feel the ticking away of valuable time. It’s this weird psychology but it works

· Use internet-blocker software to keep yourself off of social media

· Set up a system of rewards when small and large goals are accomplished. (ex: If I write 350 words this hour, I can spend 10 minutes on social media.)

What it all boils down to is HOW MUCH YOU WANT THIS. If you’re passionate about writing, you’ll make time, even in the smallest increments, to spend with your characters. If you find you’re constantly frustrated about how little you’re accomplishing, it might be time to reassess your priorities. Perhaps there are changes you can make to your schedule to maximize productivity. Above all, keep at it! Persistence in the face of frustration is the key to success.
This year, I'm using the inspiration and energy of Nanowrimo to finish edits on a work in progress as well as crank out 20,000 words on a brand new novel. In other words, my schedule will be tighter than usual, but who can resist all of that creative gusto rippling through the writer-sphere? I'm on it! Good luck to those of you who are joining me!

“The great Gaels of Ireland are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad.”

― G.K. Chesterton

Two centuries ago, Celtic tribes dominated Europe from the Black Sea to the British Isles, from Galicia in northwest Spain to Galatia in modern-day Turkey.

Eventually, three main Celtic groups were dominant: The Gauls lived in what is now France, Britons lived in Great Britain, and Gaels lived in Ireland.

Naturally, these different groups of Celts had different dialects and practices, which probably made for some pretty confusing conversations.

One thing that united all these different tribes of Celts was their belief in life after death. In ancient Ireland, you were born, you lived, you died, and you came back. Then you repeated the whole process over and over and over again. So strong was this belief that you could take out a loan and promise to pay it back in your next lifetime. People spoke to the dead just as they did to the living. And if you died in the middle of an argument, well . . . It wasn’t over ‘til it was over.
If you join us for an Ireland Writer Tour next summer, you’ll likely encounter some interesting aspects of the Irish language. Since both tours are based in the west of the country, you’ll see road signs in Irish: Go Mall - slow down. An Gaeltacht – a region where Irish is spoken. And if you’re looking for a public toilet (NOT called a restroom), it will likely be labelled Mná for Women or Fir for Men.

Even more fun than the road signs will be the people you meet. At least some of them will have names that either frustrate you or make you laugh. Lee Mack explains it far better than I can:

Be sure and check back again. Our next post will be about writing!