Wednesday, 2 September 2009

I'm back... from Ireland in case you were wondering!

Gosh, can't believe it's been a fortnight since I last updated my blog. I spent one of my weeks away at a writing retreat in Ireland called Anam Cara - and what an amazing place it is.

The website really doesn't do it justice and, when I booked my week away, I had no idea of the delights that would await me:
  • A beautiful location

  • Three delicious home-cooked meals a day (although I only got up in time for breakfast once!)
  • A breathtaking view of the countryside and the sea from my room

  • A hot tub in the garden! (with a view of the sea)

  • A sauna
  • Books in every room
  • Fascinating conversations with the other writers/artists/poets staying at the retreat
  • A snug filled with over 200 films
  • A maze of paths in the 5 acre gardens that lead to a waterfall and river

  • A cute little dog called Jack who happily accompanied me on my walks through the countryside to the sea

  • Fun nights out in the local pubs - pints of Guinness (of course), Bulmers cider, Irish music, dancing and the mostly wonderfully friendly locals (I was chatted up by a 21 year old one night and it wasn't for a bet! ;))
  • And best of all - the freedom, space and quiet to get on with editing my novel.

Anam Cara is a magical place - not just because it's so homely and welcoming and sits in one of the most beautiful parts of the world I've ever visited - but because it frees you up from all the stresses of real life and allows you to write. Before I left I was editing an average of 500 words every other day. Whilst there I edited between 2,500 and 5,000 word a day!

I really, really didn't want to leave but it seems I've brought a bit of the magic back with me as, after a couple of days off, I've continued to edit about 3,000 words a day. I'm now 45% of the way through novel 2 and am hoping to complete the first edit by the beginning of October (I'm aiming to get to 50% by the end of this week). There will be a few more edits after I've finished this one, including one where I'll read out my novel aloud, before it'll be in a good enough state to show to my agent and editor but it's finally starting to come together and several scenes have even made me laugh out loud.

What else? While I was away I found out that Take a Break Fiction Feast would like to publish my story "Marry Me Man" and, before I left, my agent informed me that my first book has been sold to China! That's eight countries (including the UK) that will be publishing it now - something I still can't quite get my head around. In fact, I don't think I'll really believe it until I've touched and stroked each version of my book!

Talking of the first book - not long now until publication day (15th October). I can't believe it's nearly here. Last October, when I found out Orion were going to be publishing it, feels like yesterday. No news yet on a date or venue for the launch party but we're working on that. Chances are it won't be until some time in November - but at least there's more chance of my book actually being in the shops then! I'll release more details when I know them.

I'm also planning some fantastic competitions to celebrate my book's launch - including a short story competition with a prize that, hopefully, un-agented writers will find very exciting (I'm saying no more!). Details of all the comps will be publicised on this blog and my website nearer the time.

I've also answered a few emailed interviews with a few more still to complete.

Oh! I'd love to have some kind of virtual blog tour to celebrate the launch of my novel. I think the way it works is that bloggers who'd like to host a 'leg' of my tour let me know (in the comments box?) and then we work out some kind of a schedule so each blogger posts on a different day. If you'd like to take part (you can ask me questions, I could write a guest post for your blog, anything you fancy really) please leave a comment below. I'm hoping it can all kick off with the first tour 'stop' on 16th October - the day after publication day.

Okay, now my head's spinning with everything I have to do...


Keris said...

It looks gorgeous. And congratulations on the China sale.

I'd love to host you on Five Minutes Peace. Would you like to do a guest post? Maybe your top 5 favourite books to curl up with or something like that?

chicklitreviews said...

Looks a fab place. I love the picture of the dog with his goggles on!

We'd love to have you do a guest post on Chick Lit Reviews, let us know at!

Leah x

L-Plate Author said...

Call in at mine if you like, we can discuss what to do later when you've had a few more offers?

Glad it's all going to plan x

Colette said...

I'm surprised you could tear yourself away. it looks amazing.

Adam said...

So very jealous of all of it. :D

Yay for you!


B said...

It looks fantastic! I'll start saving :)

I can't wait to read your book! any chance of a launch party in these regions...?!

Fia said...

It looks like heaven - and that lovely dog.

China will love your novel I'm sure and so will the rest of the world.

DOT said...

They talk of the Emerald Isle - I have certainly turned green.

How wonderful for you.

Calistro said...

Keris - Brilliant, thank you, would love to do a post for Five Minutes Peace. Love the idea of my top 5 favourite books.

Leah - Would love to do a guest post for Chick Lit Reviews. Anything in particular you'd like me to write about?

L-Plate - Hooray! Thank you. Would love to be on your blog.

Collette - It was VERY difficult to tear myself away.

Adam - Don't be jealous, book yourself a week away there :)

B - I'm afraid it's likely to be London although maybe I could arrange something in Newcastle at some point. A book signing at my old Uni maybe? :)

Fia - Thank you.

DOT - It was lovely.

Anyone else want to be part of the tour? You don't have to be a review site! I'd love to 'visit' as many blogs as possible. You can ask me any questions you like! Whether I'll answer them all is another question ;)

Karen said...

Sounds like you had a lovely and productive time - what a gorgeous place!

You're more than welcome on mine :o) Maybe do your (writing) highlights of the past year or something?

SueG said...

Count me in, if you'd like. We could talk about Anam Cara, retreats in general, and all sorts of things. I'd love to!

Adam said...

""Adam - Don't be jealous, book yourself a week away there :)""

Sure, if you're payin'! ;-)


Calistro said...

Karen - Excellent! Thanks so much. Writing highlights - brill :)

SueG - Ooh, thank you so much. Anam Cara/retreats is a great topic (I could waffle on forever about how much I love AC!)

Adam - If I could afford another week there I'd have stayed for two ;)

Cool! So far on the tour we've got:

1. Five minutes Peace - Guest post: 5 favourite books

2. Chicklit reviews - guest post

3. L-Plate - to be arranged later

4. Karen - Guest post: writing highlights of the last year

5. SueG - Anam Cara, retreats and things in general

Any more for any more? The more the merrier - I'd love it to be MASSIVE tour! :)

Fia said...

Cally I would have volunteered but I am such a bad blogger and so only have a few kind followers. I do have a forum for my pet sitters and we often chat about books (well what else is there to do when you're alone in Scotland with only a Gordon Setter and three thousand miles of view?). There's around a hundred of us, so will spread the word.

PS. I will have to read it first - if it's too scary, I might have to add a health warning for those reading alone:)

The Secret Writer said...

I love Jack! He's so cute!

Launch party in November? Right, I still think I can come although work might be a pain in the a*se. I'll work on them though.

I'd invite you over to my blog but since I barely get any visitors they'd be no point :( I'll see what I can do about that one too!

Tom Conoboy said...

Hi Cally, you're welcome to take a detour over my direction. I could send you some questions to post as an interview, probably craft related. I'm at tomconoboy at if you want to get in touch.


Bernadette said...

Don't forget to breathe, Cally!

What an exciting time.

kim mcgowan said...

I have never seen so many comments! Golly.

And congratulations again for selling your book to China.


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Captain Black said...

I'm very envious of your trip. I went to Kerry a few years ago and I loved the easy pace of life there. Mind you, I almost had a panic attack when I returned to the furious traffic in London.

Well done on your TaBFF story and on your Chinese book deal.

Not much happens on my blog these days, apart from computer de-geeking articles, so I'll volunteer my services for your blog tour. I'll also try to be at your launch, if I can make it.

Calistro said...

Fia - Thanks so much. The more people that spread the word the better :)

Secret Writer - I really hope you can make the launch. You've been there since the very beginning.

Bernadette - I do have to keep reminding myself to breathe!

Kim - Thank you

Tom/Captn - Thank you so much.

Blog tour update. So far I have:

1. Five minutes Peace - Guest post: 5 favourite books

2. Chicklit reviews - guest post

3. L-Plate - to be arranged later

4. Karen - Guest post: writing highlights of the last year

5. SueG - Anam Cara, retreats and things in general

6. Tom Conoboy - the craft of writing

7. Captain Black - TBA

womagwriter said...

Looks like a gorgeous place for a writing retreat- glad it her energised you!

More than happy to host a day of your blog tour. Best if you can do a guest post - anything you like, perhaps about your background in short story writing before the novel, given my blog's theme?