Halloween Boot Camp: How to get your kids to do jobs & think they’re having fun


Just thought of a great way of making money. Charge my own kids €65 euro each for entertaining them at my Halloween (boot) camp this week. The camp my daughter wanted to go to gave them a free t-shirt. I’ll give her a free t-shirt (from the laundry) and show her how to iron it.

Course schedule:

Bed making: how to get those corners right! Tricky duvet covers, put them on, without being tempted to climb in!
Breakfast: Learn how to eat a healthy first meal and clean your bowl afterwards
Exercise: Star Jumps and More!
Master the Art of the Washing Machine: Those fancy dials, find out how they work, watch your favourite t-shirt circle the machine
Cleaning Floors: have fun with mops
Cooking: how to make a fun lunch
Baking: Hallowween Pinwheel biscuits and apple pie
Under bed expedition: Like pot holing – squeeze into spaces and find old treasures once forgotten, avoid rotten apples and socks!
Hoovering: Suck up the dreadful dust mites in this game of skill, endurance and dexterity. Gain points for avoiding the Lego!
Washing up the old fashioned way: Ever wondered what we did before dishwashers? Have fun with suds and cutlery Jenga!
Televisions of yore: Press your nose against the front window waiting for something to happen, race raindrop traces with your finger before they reach the bottom.
Bouncy leaf piles: Rake up all the leaves in your parent’s garden and the surrounding neighbourhood to make a massive pile of leaves to leap about in and throw over your siblings
Conker wars: Smash your opponents conker in this time-honoured game of seasonal produce and string
Make a fancy 1970s dinner: Learn to make spag bol with pineapple and sausage on sticks for starter.
Go to bed: Yes it’s only 4pm but be like the Cavemen and sleep
when it gets dark.

This course is sure to occupy you in novel ways and is a great value alternative to a week of Minecraft or an overpriced t-shirt painting camp.

Nothing special about this writer, but…

Just found this post again and thought it still rang true. We have to keep writing, keeping hoping and striving, even when the way is unclear, the publishing world is difficult to navigate, when we don’t know if our efforts will succeed. If you liked this post and would like to receive the Head Above Water newsletter with occasional links to these motivational articles on creativity and details of courses, sign up for the newsletter here

Head Above Water

There are billions of novels out there. There are millions of fabulous writers and tales. There are well known writers who’s talent may be so so but who have captured something that connects with people. There are wonderful wordsmiths who remain obscure. There are authors who managed to get a book deal but then suffered the fate of “mid-list” authors and had to fight over and over to justify their presence on the shelves. There are authors who bypassed the traditional publishing arena and put themselves on the virtual shelves, authors who often give their writing away for free when their excellence should be paid for. There are writers in the wrong time and place and circumstance who have a more difficult task becoming known. There are writers who are hyped beyond worth. There is a laziness in the media sometimes where the same faces and the big names are…

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Head Above Water Autumn Courses (Bray) now booking

Autumn14CoursePosterUnder the banner of Head Above Water writers, I’m giving a series of classes this Autumn from Beginners to Improvers and to Flash Fiction. My signature class is Creative Practice in Busy Lives & Short Story Essentials. As a psychology and communications studies grad and busy mum, I’m very much aware of how the creative process and producing fiction requires a combination of technique, practice, talent, time, headspace and mental resilience. All these factors combine to assist the new writer in finding confidence, developing skills, producing ever-improving material and pushing through the setbacks (motivation, uncertainty, skill gaps and the vagaries of the publishing industry) to become as productive and successful a writer as possible (where ‘success’ is defined by you.) As a published short story and flash fiction writer who has now produced longer works for submission I want to share the techniques and skills I’ve learned along the way. But what I hope in particular my courses can offer is the encouragement, support and techniques for producing material within our hectic and demanding lives and to help people find mental resilience and verve in their pursuit of a creative life. For those drawn to a creative path I know how important it is for health and happiness to be able to access and develop that side and not be cut off from it through life circumstances or lack of confidence. It with this in mind that I’ve devised the following programme…

Venue: All courses this Autumn will take place in St. Peter’s Centre, (adjacent to the Coach Inn), Dublin Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow.

Creative Writing for Beginners Sunday November 2nd 10am to 1pm  35 euro

(Get Started Writing, develop ideas, understand main elements of storytelling, build your confidence) Full course details and booking.

Creative Practice in Busy Lives & Short Story Essentials Sunday Nov 16th 9.30am to 1pm 35 euro

(Suitable for Beginners and Improvers. Tips to produce writing & maintain writing verve in busy lives plus the essentials of good short story writing. Full course details and booking

Short Story Intensive Workshop (Improvers)  Sunday Nov 30th 9.30am to 1.30pm 45 euro

(Suitable for those writing a while & wanting to develop skills. We will workshop one of your existing stories (in a supportive & encouraging matter) and do further writing exercises. Interactive and full of creative energy!)

Full course details and booking

Writing Fabulous Flash Fiction Sunday Dec 7th 10am to 1pm 35 euro

Flash Fiction is the epitome of writing verve! This versatile, short form is ideal for readers and writers who want to pack meaning and entertainment into bite-sized chunks. With many publishing outlets for material, flash fiction is the perfect way to sharpen writing skills and raise your profile in the writing world. This course will help you produce competent, unique and memorable short fiction.

Full course details and booking


Please share these details particularly with those in the Wicklow and Dublin areas. For each of the courses I hope that you will go home energized and motivated to pursue your creative endeavours. I look forward to meeting some of you there!

What is your favourite short story?

Is it possible to pick out your favourite short story? Is it like with music, does it depend on mood? We all have our favourite authors, genres and styles of writing. So if you were pressed, could you identify your favourite story? Is it something nostalgic that you read at a particular point in your life or something from a recent work that really sits with you. Well, I got the opportunity to explore these questions on the fantastic Short Story Website Story Ireland when they asked me to identify ‘The One’. My favourite story is A Stone Woman by A.S. Byatt from The Little Black Book of Stories. You can read why I love the story so much here.

In the meantime I’d love to hear what your favourite story is and why you like it so much. I’m always on the lookout for recommendations and can’t wait to hear what you suggest.

Writing Life After Novels: What do you do next?

I’ve recently finished (for now anyway!) my novel about an usual exhibit in a 1980s town The Exhibit of Held Breaths and while I’ve got an extremely rough draft of another novel waiting not-so-patiently in the wings and a flash fiction novella that thinks I’m never coming back, I’m unsure what to get cracking on next. The sensible option after the all encompassing nature of the novel would be possibly to finish some short fiction (abandoned inchoate orphans) but the larger works seem shinier. We’ve used the marathon analogy before for novel writing but some people train and train and then do one marathon after another. Others never go back.

What I want to know, for regular and more established writers, what do you do? Does it depend? Do you usually have a week or two off altogether, do you write short pieces, move to non-fic or do you get up the next morning and dive right in to the next novel? What writing comes straight after you’ve finished your novel?

Help for anxious and challenged teenagers and their parents in new Nicola Morgan book

This blog is mindful of the challenges that writing parents face in their ‘normal’ lives outside of their creative pursuits and one of the fantastic resources I have come across in recent times is acclaimed YA author’s Nicola Morgan’s latest publication The Teenage Guide to Stress. This is a book written for the teenager but with parents in mind and is a companion volume to the critically acclaimed Blame my Brain. Nicola Morgan is not a psychologist but is an author with an affinity for the mindset of the teenager/young adult who has done research on the psychological and brain physiology of this age group whose brains are altering at a faster rate than any time since they were toddlers. You can read my article for writing.ie all about The Teenage Guide to Stress here. Nicola has written various other no-nonsense guides for writers such as Write A Great Synopsis, Dear Agent and Tweet Write and I highly recommend her sincere and pragmatic approach.