A New Year……A New Start

Welcome to 2020 and that time of year when we are expected to make new year resolutions. January gives us the chance to start anew, to set goals and change things for the better. Many people are cynical about resolutions because they feel that people are setting themselves up for an instant fall and failure, and with failure comes dissolution and often depression.

But others see it as a time to dream big, to hope for new achievements, a time of exciting possibilities and a chance to work towards their goals.

So am I going to make some resolutions? Yes I will set writing goals that are realistic, attainable and use those goals as something to work towards. But if I only achieve some of those goals I will not be disappointed. Everything is a learning curve and sometimes we are taken places we didn’t expect to go. So the journey to our goals can be exciting, unpredictable and often frustrating. But keep trying and enjoy the journey. Good luck!

Book Launch 2

The second book launch I was involved in was the launch of an anthology of stories and poems for children called ‘Quirky Tales’. The launch was on Saturday 7th December at 2 pm in Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre, Ardagh, County Longford. We had the launch there because this is where most of the contributors meet at quarterly SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) social events. It is an ideal place to launch a children’s book because it was a school in a previous life. As well as that the centre is run by two people involved in the book – Ann Gerety Smyth and Annette Corkery, who are cousins and my cousins too.

Eleven people were involved in writing stories and poems for this anthology. For the illustrations we gave a call out to adults and children to send in their illustrations for certain characters and things, by giving a little description of what we wanted. We had entries from the USA, UK and Ireland. We had many contributions from the Gaelscoil (Irish speaking) in Longford, Gaelscoil Longfoirt. Anyone who got an illustration into the book was rewarded with a free copy of ‘Quirky Tales’.

This launch was a fun, fairly informal affair, and was a day for children, their parents / guardians and families. All the illustrations were exhibited on the day, so people could look at them and admire the great artwork.

Exhibition of illustrations. Photo by Annette Corkery

As people arrived, they were ushered into the biggest inside room to watch the presentation of free books to the illustrators. There was a great turn out for this.

After the free books were given out, some of the contributors read out some of their poems or extracts from their stories in ‘Quirky Tales’.

Readers : Slide 1: Irene Doran and Ann Gerety Smyth,
Slide 2: Me/ Eileen Moynihan
Slide 3: Rose Moran
Slide 4: Dan Flynn
Slide 5: Sally Martin
Slide 6: Maggi McKenna
Slide 7: Martina Cooney
Slide 8: Eddy Lane
Photos by Annette Corkery

After the readings we went through to the other room to enjoy sandwiches, buns and cakes made or bought by the contributors. Tea, coffee and soft drinks were served too. People then had a chance to buy their own copies of ‘Quirky Tales’, or to chat. look at the art exhibition, or browse in the centre’s craft shop.

Book Launch 1

Well this week has been very busy with book launches. Weeks of anticipation, worry and organizing have brought myself and others to our grand finales. As I told you before, I have been involved in two different anthologies.

The first one was with Longford Writers Group, of which I am the chairperson. 17 members of the group produced the anthology ‘Home Made,’ which contains stories and poems written on the theme of home and community.

On Monday 2nd December 2019 we all gathered for our big night. Two of us were absent due to being in other countries at the time so we were a band of 15. My good friend Lalin Swaris had volunteered to video us and take photographs, all out of the goodness of his heart. Shelley Corcoran was also there to take photos for the Longford Leader, our local newspaper. Music was provided by Valerie Nolan and Bridie Gobl, and Sean O’Neill from our group, who also had a story in the anthology. Delicious sandwiches and cakes were supplied by Roisin Moffat.

Our special guest speakers were the Mayor of Longford, Michéal Carrigy, and,Noel Greene, ( the community fundraiser for Midlands Simon Community, an organisation that helps the homeless). Longford Writers Group gave a donation of 100 euro to this charity.

We shared the evening with Reflections Art Group who were also launching their winter exhibition. County librarian, Mary Carleton Reynolds introduced the 2 groups and their work.

There was a great crowd and everyone considered it a successful evening. Thanks to all the library staff for their support, and Creative Ireland who gave us funding to do the anthology.

Back row , left to right: Linda Kelly, Thomas Carty, Martina Cooney, Sean O’Neill, Lilly Okhuakhua, Sally Martin, Damien McManus
Front row, Eileen Moynihan, Dan Flynn, Rose Moran, Dette Lowry, Philomena Murphy, Maggi McKenna, Ann Gerety Smyth, Eddy Lane. Absent: Yvonne Coates and Rob Peacock. Photo by Lalin Swaris
Reading my story . Photo by Lalin Swaris
Noel Greene accepting a cheque for 100 euro on behalf of the Midlands Simon Community. Photo by Lalin Swaris

Interview with, Gaurav Bhatnager, who is an entrepreneur, publisher and author.

Gaurav, with his son, and his first book.
The back cover of Gaurav’s first book.

When I first went into self-publishing I met, Gaurav Bhatanager, and his company ePublishingeXperts through LinkedIn, and I decided that they would provide me with the digital illustrations for my books,’ Rory Gumboots’ and ‘The Reckolahesperus.’ Gaurav has been a friend and mentor ever since.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi, my name is Gaurav Bhatnagar and I am based in Delhi, India. I am an entrepreneur and have interests in writing, printing, art and IT. 

What do you do when you are not writing?

If I am not writing I am taking care of my client’s publishing businesses and playing with my son who is now 7 years old.

When did you first start writing and what was your first book?

My first book is based on friendship and I named it Forever Friends Club. This is a story inspired from my son’s questions when he lost his first baby tooth. It’s been a year since I launched my first book and it’s been an awesome journey to write and now market my book.

How did you choose the genre you write in?

I was inspired from my son and so naturally chose to write for kids)

Where do you get your ideas?

I got ideas from my son, his questions and curiosity provides me a fertile ground to run the horses of my imagination.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Yes, with my second book based on yoga.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?

My editor told me to follow an outline. I first think a plot and then build a strong character around it.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

I was not an avid reader. Writing doesn’t come to me by choice. It happened. I narrated stories to my son and while creating a new story I ended up with my first book “Forever Friends Club”.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

Since I was already serving my publisher clients and authors getting my book self-published was not a challenge but marketing is. It’s a huge challenge and after one year I am still working out my ads on Amazon and trying to build a distribution market for my book.

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your book or getting it published that you would change?

I would like to try traditional publishing. I want children across the world read the stories I write but that is not possible with self-publishing. Only a publisher with robust distribution system in place can spread the word about the book.

Volunteering with SCBWI ( Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators )

I have been a member of SCBWI for many years and for the last few years I have been a volunteer social liaison in the Midlands area of Ireland. SCBWI is an international organization that originated in the USA.

Their mission is…

‘The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, a nonprofit organization, is the only professional organization specifically for individuals who write and illustrate for children and young adults. Our mission is to support the creation and availability of quality children’s books in every region of the world.

Through our awards, events, and publications, we give established writers and illustrators the tools and resources to manage their careers, as well as educate those just starting out. SCBWI is also proud to serve as a consolidated voice for our members within the publishing industry.

Membership in SCBWI is open to anyone with an active interest in children’s literature, from picture books to young adult novels. We welcome aspiring and published writers and illustrators, as well as librarians, educators, translators, artists, students, dramatists, musicians, filmmakers, and others. A passion for children’s literature is our number one criterion. ‘

To find out more about membership go here

As part of my volunteer work I hold quarterly social meetings with people who are interested in different aspects of children’s literature. Last week I spoke about a couple of anthologies I am involved in. One of these is an anthology for children which is to be named Quirky Tales- A treasury of illustrated stories and poems for children. Here is the report I did for our latest meeting…

Midlands Winter Social Event (November 2019)

Written by volunteer social liaison Eileen Moynihan

The SCBWI Ireland – Midlands Winter social was held on Saturday, November 9th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre, Ardagh, County Longford. We had a very productive morning discussing illustrations, editing, publishing and a title for our upcoming anthology. We were sustained by large amounts of cake, washed down by coffee and tea.

Photo: Martina Cooney with cake!

Annette Corkery spent a lot of time laying out the book, and she showed us samples of the layout on her computer. We looked at the various pictures that had been sent in by children and adults and enjoyed choosing ones that we thought should go in the anthology.

Photo (left to right): Dan Flynn, Rose Moran, Martina, Eileen Moynihan, Annette Corkery (standing), and Cara Martin

Dan Flynn and Eddy Lane did some editing of the stories and poems. After discussing what they thought still needed editing, we all agreed to hand have Annette and Ann Gerety-Smyth look at the texts and coordinate all the editing.

Annette and I had researched a few printers and received quotes. We decided to go with eprint Limited based in Dublin. We decided to invest some of our own money in the project to hopefully earn it back from book sales. We have also approached the local Arts Officer for arts grant funding and will be following that up.

Photo (left to right): Rose, Martina, and Eileen (standing)

Finally, we discussed the title and eventually came up with “Quirky Tales: A Treasury of Illustrated Stories and Poems for Children”. Everybody was happy with this title, because there are some quirky tales in the book, and the word sounds strange but interesting for children.

It’s thrilling to plan and follow through on our project, and to see the final version of the anthology taking shape! We decided to hold a book launch on Saturday, December 7th at 2:00 p.m. in the Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre.

Photo (left to right): Martina, Eileen, Annette(standing),  Ann Gerety-Smyth, Dan, Cara, and Rose

What people said:

Annette Corkery: “Very productive morning, I’m excited about seeing the finished product now.”

Ann Gerety-Smyth: “We had a very productive Saturday morning which went very fast because we were so focused and mostly because we had cake!”

Sally Martin: “Great morning. It was fun but we also got a lot done. I agree with Ann that coffee and cake definitely helped. Annette had a great amount of work done putting our anthology together. Overall a really productive, enjoyable morning.”

Martina Cooney: “It was a very successful meeting considering we managed the book title, also children’s pictures organised and illustrations almost completed.”

Rose Moran: “A very enjoyable morning looking at all the lovely artwork submitted for the book of stories and poems for children. Enjoyed the great hospitality at Ardagh and the work of Annette.”

Dan Flynn: “We’ve got a great little book and a wonderful title.”

Cara Martin: “I had a fantastic time. We got a lot done. Being just 14, I love the way that age makes no difference in the group. I love the drawings, and I am looking forward to the finished book.”

Photo (left to right): Dan, Annette (standing), Ann, and Cara

Photographs taken by Sally and Eileen.


As a member of my local writers group I am involved in an anthology of stories and poetry for adults, and as a volunteer for SCBWI Ireland – Midlands, I am involved with an anthology of stories and poems for children. These are both due to be launched in the next few weeks.

There are 17 members of Longford Writers Group involved in the anthology ‘Home Made.’ We decided to do an anthology on the theme of Home/Community. Every participant in this anthology created something completely different in their poems or stories. What became obvious to us while we were reading them is that our home or community shapes who we are, for good or for bad. Thus we came up with our title “Home Made.”


10 people are participating in the anthology for children, which we have called , ‘Quirky Tales – A treasury of illustrated stories and poems for children.’ This has been written by a group of people who have been attending quarterly SCBWI  ( Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Ireland – Midlands Social Group in Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre. We have activities all based around writing and illustrating children’s books, and we decided it would be great to produce our own anthology. All the contributors live in Co. Longford or just over the county border. As all aren’t paid up SCBWI members we have called ourselves Midlands Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators Group for this project.

The Christmas Market

Well the Christmas season is fast approaching and thoughts turn to Christmas presents.  Many people buy books as Christmas presents, for their children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. So the pre-Christmas period is an important time for authors.

So there is pressure to have your book all ready to be published in time. Once you have your text ready, it needs editing, maybe needs illustrations and formatting, a book cover to be designed and a lot of trial and error, especially if you are self-publishing. Therefore publishing a book for the Christmas season takes some planning. But often things do not go to plan and you just have to go with the flow.

Even when your book is ready you have to market it and promote it whilst trying not to bore everyone. So you have to be on social media and have to keep plugging at it daily. Some spend money on advertising but this can be costly.

One way of selling a fair number of books is to have a book launch but that can be an expensive outlay too. But it is a good way to promote your book in the local newspaper and in the local community.

Once you do have your books in your hands Christmas Market and craft fairs are a good place to sell your books. They also get you in a festive mood and they are a good place to network with others. I will be in Tulsk Macra Hall, Tulsk, Co. Roscommon on December 1st from 10 am – 3 pm