Useful Editing Links


Two places I’ve found really useful in improving my writing (a.k.a. editing) are;

1. Writing Excuses – weekly 15 minute long panel-style podcast. You can listen to the back-issues too. Yes, they focus on sci-fi and fantasy but I write neither and still get at least one really great tip from each podcast. It also prompted me to read some of the panel’s novels and they’re good.

2. Writers Helping Writers – this was recommended to me recently and it’s a great site with a variety of downloadable tools for writers seeking to improve their work. Character interview charts, advice on how to cure cardboard villains, handouts about building a social media platform, how to remove crutch or weasel words (I’ve done this and it really works!), weak verb ideas, etc, etc. They also have a few books out. I like the idea of the emotional thesaurus – ways to show emotions via body language.

Any other editing links you’d like me to share with the Ireland North East nano-gang? Let me know in the comments.


Grace (ML for Ireland NorthEast in NaNoWriMo)

Posted in Writing Advice | Tagged | Leave a comment

Nano 2013 is over – now what?

Hello Wrimos,

NaNoWriMo 2013 is over for another year and there was much talk at the TGIO (thank goodness it’s over) party for our region about what steps we might take next with our writing. There was great enthusiasm for revising our novels and a number of us are actively seeking publication of previous (and now polished) nano novels (scroll down for my earlier post about Irish publishers and agents). But there are two other steps you could consider.

1. Work on Your Social Media Platform

Many of us use Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, LinkedIn etc to promote our writing and raise our profile. I’ve been working on improving my use of social media this year and here’s a few links I found useful;

If you only have time to use one social media platform I would suggest either start blogging (weekly) or sign up to twitter and follow influential writers/agents and search for writing advice and tips. It’s a great resource. Don’t wait until you have a book to sell, use it today to help you improve your writing and build a readership.

2. Write and Submit Short Fiction/Personal Essays

We also talked about submitting short fiction and personal essays at the TGIO. It can be hard to suggest markets for wrimos because we’re all writing in different lengths and genres. I have been published by People’s Friend (UK) and Metro Fiction (USA) and several other venues that are no longer active for short fiction, plus nine anthologies for personal essays, and it’s a great way to pick up clips.

Other places that take women’s short fiction include Ireland’s Own, My Weekly, Woman’s Weekly, Stinging Fly, The Lady, Best. Maria Hughes in our region got into Cork publication The Holly Bough this month. Your best bet is to google for short fiction markets and include the name of your genre.Some will take email submissions while others require a postal approach so do check the writers’ guidelines first.

Don’t forget anthologies too, especially for personal essays – Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup would be the two big ones in that market but there are others too (beware anthologies that only pay the top three stories – it’s generally best to not give away your writing for free unless it’s a charitable donation that you want to support). Sunday Miscellany on RTE radio take personal stories (although I’ve yet to get one accepted!).

Hopefully that will give you a few leads to pursue and do let us know if you get published somewhere so I can let the other wrimos in the region know.

hapy writing,

Grace (ML for Ireland NorthEast)

Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, My Wordfoolery Blog, and LinkedIn or sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.

Posted in Writing Advice | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to use the Createspace Free Copies of your Novel Code


If you “won” NaNoWriMo 2012 by passing the 50,000 word mark in just one month, congratulations! Do you know you can pick up a discount code to use at Createspace to print 1-5 copies of your novel (or other writings)? Yep. The deadline is the end of June 2013, so it’s time to decide what you want to print and start getting it ready.

If you already had a beautifully checked, edited, and formatted novel ready for the process then check out my post from 2011 which guides you through the steps. Yes they have changed, a tiny bit, since then but if you get stuck just leave a comment below this post so I can email you my notes from this year.

It really is lovely to have a shelf of Nano novels to admire in your writing space and they’re very useful for when you’re proof-reading or editing. This is the third year I’ve availed of the offer and I’ve been very happy with it.

Or you can go the whole hog and self-publish, using the code to get you a few copies to giveaway to fans.

Happy writing,

Grace (ML for Ireland North East since 2009)

Posted in Writing Advice | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Writers’ Retreat in Dublin Mountains


There’s new writing retreat centre called Carousel Creates in the Dublin mountains (residential or non) and they’re offering a free place on their next session as a prize for a writing contest. Have a look.


Posted in writing contests | Tagged , | Leave a comment

NaNo 2012 is Over – now what?


Congratulations Writers,

If you wrote even one page of fiction this month, you’ve taken a step in the right direction. Writing takes time and this month you’ve made time for it.

What have you learnt about your writing this month?

I’ve learnt something new during every Nano, even when I didn’t come close to the 50K. This year I’ve learned I need to finish a detailed outline before writing a dual time-period novel and that researching during November is not good for my word count. I’ve also learned that I enjoy the challenge of writing historical fiction.

When you look back on November I hope you’re happy that you tried this. I hope the writing bug has bitten you and you want to finish your story, or start another.

Once the excellent CreateSpace “print-your-book offer” goes live for Nano winners on December 5th – I’ll be using it for a personal proof copy. Other writers in our region have used them for gifts, self-publishing, and for editing. And remember it doesn’t have to be this year’s Nano novel, or just 50k words. I posted tips about using it last year on the blog and will do that again next June (the deadline for printing your book with them).

If you are thinking about Nano 2013, please drop into the site in early October – go on, put a note in your 2013 diary now. I’ll be hosting a Plot Party next year during October so we can brainstorm ideas on plots, characters, and structuring our novels before the 1st of November. I want to make 2013 rock and I’m happy to take suggestions from you on that.

And hey, next year could be your winning year. I’ll be here, cheering you on for every word written.

The NaNoWriMo site gets pretty quiet from mid-December, but you’re welcome to contact me here.

Until Nano 2013, Happy writing, Grace

Writers’ Groups in Ireland NorthEast

This is not a comprehensive list. If you know of others – especially in Cavan & Monaghan, email me and I’ll add them. Thanks!

  • The Saltwater Scribblers are a Drogheda-based group who meet every Monday. Find them on Facebook and twitter, or email them at Several of their members do Nano every year.
  • The Meath Writers Circle meets on the first Thursday of every month in the Trim Castle Hotel. Contact Tommy Murray at 046-31747 or
  • The Boyne Writers group meets on Thursdays twice a month in the Castle Arch Hotel, Trim. The emphasis is on constructive feedback in a non-threatening atmosphere. New members are always welcome. Contact the group by email:, post to Castle Arch Hotel, Summerhill Road, Trim, Co. Meath, or
  • The Ardgillan Castle Writers’ Group meets every Saturday morning 10.30-12.30. There is no charge. Contact them via Ardgillan Castle, Skerries, Co. Dublin.
  • Apparently there is a Dundalk Writers’ Circle but I have been unable to get contact information for them.
  • Monaghan Song and Poetry Writers – again I don’t have contact information for this group
  • Cootehill Writers Group – contact Kay Phelan at 049-5552321 or Station Road, Cootehill, Co. Cavan.
  • The Cavan Lit Lab – contact 4 Gardenrath Road, Lower Kells, Co. Meath.
  • Online: I strongly recommend for giving and receiving critiques of your novel.

Useful Market and Contest Ezines (links listed on the right)

  • The Irish Writers Centre runs a variety of courses and an annual Novel Fair. Their weekly email newsletter often has details of Irish contests and magazines seeking submissions.
  • Hope C Clark’s Funds for Writers weekly newsletters are the best I’ve come across. She lists contests, arts grants, agents, and publications seeking submissions. Many are in the US as that’s where she is based, but she regularly features Irish/UK items too and the feature article and her editorial are valuable sources of information too. She is open to Irish submissions for the feature article.
  • Brendan Nolan’s Ask about Writing site is a good weekly source for UK and Irish writing news and submission calls (

Irish Fiction Publishers and Agents

{Always research a publisher or agent before approaching them. Make sure your submission is right for them and that they are right for you too}

Irish Fiction Publishers

Irish Agents

Posted in Writing Advice | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How to Backup your Novel

One of our wrimos last year mentioned Dropbox as a great way to ensure you don’t lose your novel halfway through Nanowrimo and I’ve finally had a chance to check it out.

So what is it? It’s an on-the-internet storage centre. You sign up for a free account and can store up to 2gig of data (be that novels, music, images, whatever) for free. If you’re got more than that, it will cost you a bit. However I have less than a gig in my writing folder after ten+ years of writing, so 2 gig should easily accommodate your Nano novel backups.

The installation is straight forward and took me two minutes to complete.

Make sure you pick a tough password, your writing is important, right?

Then simply copy your files into the Dropbox folder created on your computer and it will copy them up to your account on the Dropbox website. Now you can retrieve them from there onto another computer if your original one turns up its toes or is stolen.

Everytime you make a change to that Dropbox folder’s contents on your computer, it is reflected on the website. So if you create your novel folder inside it (eg. e:\writing\dropbox\novel2012) then it is being constantly backed up. Perfect!

I’ve added their link to the blogroll on the right of this page and here it is again – Dropbox.

Google also do a similar tool called Google Drive and it starts with 5gig free.

Grace (ML for Ireland NorthEast)

Posted in Writing Advice | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

If you won Nano2011 and want to use the Createspace Offer – here’s how

I have just finished this process and took detailed notes to post here. Note – this offer is only available to writers who won NaNoWriMo 2011.

If you’re not sure if you want to do this, I strongly suggest you do. There’s something really wonderful about holding your work in printed format, even if you only do it to put on your shelf for yourself. Past participants in our region have done the following with their copies – 1) self-published their poetry collection and sold it, 2) printed in double spacing and used it for editing and revision, 3) given away copies as gifts to friends and family. This year I’ll be giving my story to my kids and godchildren as I wrote it for them.

Let’s start with deadlines – the code from Nano can be used up to June 30th, 2012. The process with Createspace takes about 2 days from start to finish (and about four hours work on your behalf). But you’ve got to get your book to a good state first, so factor in time for that. If you want to print a proof copy to amend before approving the actual five free printed books that will take time (and money) to ship – so factor in at least a month there. I’d recommend you don’t leave this to the last minute like I did last year and end up missing the deadline.

Step 1: Win NaNoWriMo and get your codes

There are two codes. To redeem the offer, you’ll need a special NaNoWriMo winner’s password. To get this, you must be an official NaNoWriMo 2011 winner, and be signed into the NaNoWriMo site. Once you are, your unique password will be displayed on your winners page. Jot it down.

To get the Createspace discount code take this Nano password to and enter it there to receive your promotional code from CreateSpace. Jot it down. It will work up to June 30th, 2012.

Step 2: Finish your novel

Any word count is fine – I printed 106,000 words using the 2009 offer and 51,000 words using the 2011 offer.

Step 3: Edit your novel

Do this in your word processor of choice. Typical things would be grammar, punctuation, flow of the story, clarity. You might want to add a title page, acknowledgements, about the author, table of contents etc – it’s up to you. If you’re really serious about this it’s really useful to get someone else to read it on paper with a red pen. They will see things you (and spellcheck) have missed, I promise.

Step 4: Create a cover image

They have a gallery of images you can use. I can draw, so I did my image in ink, and scanned it at 300 dpi as a jpeg. You need a size 5.5” by 3.25”  image for the Sycamore theme cover. I’m not sure if that varies for other cover themes. If you want to sell the book, make sure you own the copyright to any image you use for the cover.

Step 5: Log in to Createspace at

If you don’t have a free account, create one.

Step 6: Set up your book

  • Add New Title
  • Name: Red Sails
  • Paperback/audio/mps/dvd/video – Paperback
  • Setup as Guided or Expert – Guided
  • Get Started

Step 7: Title Information Page

  • Title: Red Sails
  • Author: Grace Tierney
  • Description : This is the short blurb for selling on Amazon
  • Add Contributors: none – all work done by me
  • Subtitle: none
  • Volume: none – this is not part of a series or multi-volume book
  • Save and Continue

Step 8: ISBN Page

ISBNs usually cost money – Createspace gives you one. Having an ISBN doesn’t mean the book is published, but it does mean that you can sell it (if you chose to). This ISBN is used if you chose to sell your book via Amazon. If you later publish with a traditional publisher, the book will get a new ISBN from them. Note, if you’ve self-published (and sold) first, some traditional publishers may not like that too much. Note – it is completely possible to use this offer to print 5 copies of this book purely for yourself and to never offer it for sale – hence it is not published. That’s what these instructions focus on.

  • Your book has been assigned a CreateSpace ISBN.
  • Continue

Step 9: Interior Page

  • This is where most of the work happens
  • Black and white text, on white paper : yes
  • Trim Size is the size the book will be (ie. the front, not how thick). They default to 6×9 inches. I went with 5.06” by 7.81” as that’s a size I’ve used before and like.
  • Download the Word template for your selected trim size. This gave me a size 11 font and 1.5 spacing which looked ok in print preview.  Save a couple of copies of this.
  • Enter the titles, author, ISBN, dedication, acknowledgments, and chapters into that template.doc. I decided against some of the suggested pages in the templete and deleted them. I also removed the header with author name and title, as I didn’t want that. Use your own decision on what you want here.
  • If you copy and paste in the text of the novel it will keep font and size for you.
  • This takes a while to do, so you may time out of your Createspace session during this process, just log in again and you’ll be back on your novel project page and continue. Remember to save and close your novel’s formatted file before next step.
  • Upload your book’s text (formatted for right trim size template) – pdf,doc,docx,rtf
  • Save
  • You’ll get a message box about uploading the file, processing it, and checking for printing issues – this took seven minutes for my novel (366kb Word document, 260 pages long, 51,000 words)

They found 4 issues – so I launched the Interior Reviewer application

  1. Trim size incorrect – despite using their template – I used page scaling to fix this
  2. Text outside the margins – vanished after scaling
  3. Insufficient gutter – vanished after scaling
  4. Myriad pro font not available – OK by me
  • I looked through every one of the 256 pages and they seemed OK
  • It is worth taking your time to review the book interior carefully here, especially if you’re skipping getting a printed proof copy and want to avoid blank pages, typos, and weird formatting errors.
  • Ignore issues and save
  • Ignore issues and continue

Step 10: Cover Page

  • Build your cover online/pay for cover design/upload a pdf of the cover (which is tricky as you need to adjust for how thick the book is)
  • Build your cover online
  • I picked the Sycamore theme as it could take my own cover image.
  • OK
  • Setup theme, title, author, front cover image, back cover text, background colour, font colour
  • Pick a text theme. Try them all out and pick the best one. I liked Simplicity.
  • Image – upload a jpeg or tiff of 300 dpi at least, 5.5” by 3.25” ….or they have a large gallery for you to use
  • Submit Cover – takes a minute to generate the preview
  • Complete cover
  • Look at the fullsize preview – save this as a jpeg for your records
  • Continue

Step 11: Complete Setup Page

  • This is where you submit for their review. It can take up to 48 hours but only took 16 hours for me. In the meantime don’t edit the project at Createspace.
  • Submit Files for Review
  • They put me onto a Sales Channels page
  • Remove Amazon and Createspace estore if you don’t want it up for sale
  • Got an email to tell me that the book has been reviewed and met submission requirements.
  • Logged back into Createspace
  • Book Status : awaiting proof order
  • Click on Order Proof

Step 12: Proof Order Page

  • Order a printed proof (mine would have cost $3.92 plus p&p).
  • I picked no proof because I’m fairly experienced at this process.
  • Approve File as-is.

Step 13: Review Proof Page

  • Title Setup is complete – congratulations
  • Mine is not available for sale as I’ve got no sales channels setup – correct
  • Click on Order Copies

Step 14: Shopping Cart Page

My book was priced at $3.92, this is based on size of book and cost for them to print it, I think. So five free copies meant the prize discount code was worth $19.60 or €14.80 to me. If you’re selling the book I assume there’s a page where you set how much you want the book to cost the consumer, but I didn’t get into that.

  • Quantity=5
  • Enter Discount Code and press Apply Discount – your subtotal will now be Zero – Hurrah!
  • Click Checkout and fill in delivery address – note you will need a zipcode – if you’re in Ireland and hence don’t have one – enter 0 (i.e. zero)
  • Pick a shipping speed – I went for standard shipping $15.94 or €12.03 est. delivery date of 28 March ie. 48 days shipping – pretty long but I can live with it. (Update 28 February – my parcel actually arrived in 18 days! Print and cover quality was excellent. The books arrived in pristine condition).
  • Billing address
  • City/province/postal code – Stamullen / co / meath
  • Get confirmation email on the order

Now sit back and wait for the parcel to arrive. I hope my notes help you.

happy writing,

Grace (ML for Ireland NorthEast)

Posted in Writing Advice | Tagged , , | Leave a comment