I realised that apart from structural housekeeping on the website, I haven’t done a general update here… at all this year.

So. Here be an update!

It’s less than five months to Queen of Coin and Whispers being published! It’s currently available to preorder through two Irish book retailers: Eason and Dubray. (More preorder links to come, likely next month or early 2020.) Please consider preordering it: this shows there’s early demand, which helps with everything from print run numbers to QUEEN doing well enough that I can sell more novels in the future.

While I haven’t read as much this year as expected (I’ve been revising an adult novel to give to my agent, along with completing QUEEN’s edits and brainstorming another YA novel), I’ve read enough that I’m going to do a few 2019 round up posts, mostly in chronological order with a few special single title shout outs. One of the unintentional side benefits to having less reading time is that I’ve become much more selective about what I read. I now DNF a book within 50-100 pages because I simply no longer have the hours to give a book that I’m not enamoured with by this point.

Promo-wise, I was lucky enough to attend the 2019 CBI Conference in September, where I read an excerpt from QUEEN in the New Voices slot. In October, I was thrilled to attend DeptCon 5 as an author, after attending just as myself since its inception in 2015. I had a fantastic time on my panel and got to sign Queen of Coin and Whispers samplers afterwards! I was utterly unprepared for the length of my signing queue (along with how long writing someone’s name, my name, a signing quote and a thank you line would take — sorry everyone, I’ve learned from this!). Everyone was super patient and lovely, and I enjoyed myself despite my nerves.

ARCs (early reading copies) of QUEEN started to go out in early September, and the reaction so far has been fabulous. My editor and I did one last edit, post-ARC, before we went into copyedits, so the final text is almost the same. (Along with small changes, we tweaked one scene, and I reinstated another during the last 50 pages that I’ve previously cut but made my case for putting back in.) I’m hoping the encouraging response will continue as we get closer to April.

Along with editing, it feels like I spent a lot of 2019 waiting — waiting to complete edits, waiting for a cover (which arrived and I love), waiting to see if people liked the ARC, waiting for 2020 — but now that the year is almost over, I feel like it’s all flown by and I’m not ready for 2020 to be here and for QUEEN to no longer just belong to me.


So, 2018 was a year.

I signed with an agent and sold a book!

It isn’t usually like this.

My annual round-ups usually involved phrases like finished another book revision, or almost ready to start querying. This time last year, I was feeling down about writing and publishing. I was reaching the end of the querying road with QUEEN and I was excited about my next book but unsure if I could do it justice. I seemed to always almost reach the next level but came up short at the eleventh hour.

By January 2018, I had to stop querying QUEEN because I couldn’t keep doing it while trying to write the next book. (This is a good example of common query advice not working for everyone. Do absolutely work on your next book, but you may not be able to keep querying while you do so. Don’t beat yourself up if this is the case. Whatever works for you!)

Desperate to have a decent draft of the next book, I took a week off work and wrote around 50k (the second half) in those seven days. It was not a pretty sight; I was not a pretty sight during it, to be honest. But I had a draft when I went back to work. And later feedback focused on the first half and barely involved the second — I’d managed to turn my internal editor off while frantically typing out that 50k. Even now, it might be some of my best writing because I stopped second-guessing myself, even if I really wanted to cry at the time.

By mid-2018, I had signed with my agent and a publisher was interested in QUEEN OF COIN AND WHISPERS. By the end of July, I had a job offer and faced a completely new career change. By the end of October, the news was out and the book deal was public. It was exciting! (And for most of it I resembled a headless chicken running around on fire, haha.)

I’m not really sure what 2019 will bring. All I can focus on is what’s under my control: complete edits for QUEEN; finish the revision of my next book for my agent; and write the next book after that. And gear up for 2020, my debut year! (Which, from tomorrow, is NEXT YEAR. O_O) I also hope to review the books I love in 2019 and talk about them more than just on Twitter.

Goodbye 2018. You were a good one. ❤

And to anyone reading this, I don’t want to say “You can do it!” or “Just believe in yourself!” So much of querying and publishing is out of our control. But we control the writing, so try not to stop doing that, if you can. And be kind to yourself. ❤

Rain check post

This is brief zoom-by post to say A LOT has changed since I last updated!

I read a lot of books…

Watched a lot of TV…

…and signed with a literary agent (Hi, Eric!) and sold THE QUEEN OF COIN AND WHISPERS!

I’m sprucing up the place a bit (forgive the mess), and will be back with longer explanations of all that’s happened!

The Queen of Coin and Whispers: music!

Music shapes my writing, from considering the initial seed of an idea, to figuring out characters and plot and scenes, to company while drafting. By the time I’m knee-deep in a draft, I have a playlist ready to go. These range from songs that inspired the original idea; reminded me of characters, pairings, or situations; or helped me evoke a particular atmosphere.

I thought it would fun to share some of the music I listened to (over and over again) while writing and revising The Queen of Coin and Whispers.

Continue reading “The Queen of Coin and Whispers: music!”

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost (or: “I Can Think of Seven Good Uses for a Cadaver TODAY!”)

Here’s a secret: I wasn’t in love with the original Ghostbusters as a kid.

I was more of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kind of girl. Or a retelling of The Three Musketeers as dogs. Transformers. My Little Pony. Captain Planet. Or a retelling of Treasure Island as animals.  (Are you sensing a theme?) I first watched it on TV, and saw it every so often when it was repeated. I definitely remember watching the cartoon.

But I wasn’t in love, definitely not obsessed, and I was obsessed with enough things as a kid to recognise this.

Continue reading “I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost (or: “I Can Think of Seven Good Uses for a Cadaver TODAY!”)”

PPWC 2016

I once again braved airports and jet lag to return to Colorado to see my Critique Group of Awesome and attend the Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference. And once again, it was worth it despite the stress of air travel and waking up ridiculously early because of my internal clock.

There were several stand-outs this year. Carol Berg helped me fall in love with fantasy and world-building all over again. And Rachel Caine showed the necessity of butt-in-chair (“Creativity is not your master; creativity is your bitch.”) and treating writing like the job it truly is, while still remembering how wonderful and fun it can be (writing break dance parties!). Both of them were also incredible to talk to and had so much appreciated advice.

Angie Hodapp and Warren Hammond also had a brilliant session on knowing when and where to expand and contract in a manuscript. They are great people and an amazing team, and we all agreed their session could easily have been one of the three-hour workshops in the prequel Thursday.

I was much more relaxed about talking to people this year, now knowing what to expect (and already having some embarrassing experiences last year and surviving them). Writers are amazing people, and PPWC attracts funny, generous, and enthusiastic people. There’s always something to talk about whether writing, books, TV shows, or films. And when in doubt, there’s also card games in the lobby during the evening. 🙂

(I also came over a day early this year, to give myself extra time for adjusting to the time difference and altitude, along with giving myself a day to recover before flying back to Dublin. It was one of the best decisions I made for myself.)

Above all, I realised yet again how amazing my critique group is. Not just in terms of their writing and talent, but in terms of being wonderful people. We carved out pockets of time where we hung out and debriefed, brainstormed (I needed a new title), or just spent time talking before dinner. While only about half of us attended PPWC this year, the power of Google Hangouts mean we always get to stay in contact with each other.

I can’t wait to see them all again next year. And while PPWC16 was a personal and professional success for me (I’ll be doing a separate post on what I learned about verbal pitching), I gave myself a few days to recover from jet lag (again) before checking briefly back into the Revisionland Hotel to get the last couple of things done on the book. The end is now in sight, so I can soon nudge THE QUEEN OF COIN AND WHISPERS out into the world!

Above all, it was confirmed at PPWC to keep writing. If not this book, then the next one. We’re writers. We write. And there always needs to be another idea, another book.


This year’s photo: our critique group with authors Rachel Caine (left) and Carol Berg (middle right). I’m the one laughing. I think I thought the photos were done.

Pikes Peak Writers Conference

So, a little later than expected, but I’m finally posting about my trip to Colorado for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference.

if you can manage it, go to this conference. DO IT DO IT DO IT!

A year ago, my friend David told me he was attending PPWC and said me it would likely be my thing, but due to timing and uncertainty over housemates and leases, I couldn’t commit to it. After he attended, he informed me I had to attend in 2015. I trust his opinion, so I agreed!

Fast forward to May 2015, and it’s my turn to pass it on: you have to attend in 2016. (Assuming circumstances allow, naturally.)

Continue reading “Pikes Peak Writers Conference”

PPWC + Deeprose

So… long time, no see?

Since I last posted, I have been knee deep in words words words that I eventually strung together into a first draft. It involves a Queen, her female spymaster, politics, and kissing. I’m a little fond of it. 😉

It’s (currently) called DEEPROSE:

An idealistic Queen and her vengeance-obsessed female spymaster fall for each other and must decide if achieving their ambitions is worth turning into people they despise.

(I also affectionately refer to it as my ‘ladies who fancy the dresses off each other’ book.)

Along with popping up with a book as evidence of my continued existence, this time two weeks from now, I will be in the US! In Colorado Springs, to be precise, attending the 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference. This came to my attention last year when a friend said he would be attending and asked if I was interested. I wasn’t able to go (travelling across the pond would be much easier if teleportation already existed, thanks very much, and the planet would agree), but following his glowing recommendation and assurances he’d be returning, I vowed I’d get there in 2015.

I’ll be the Irish one with the very professional Doctor Who shoulder bag.

(Nope, it’s not bigger in the inside.)


Hello all,

As you can see by the rather long blog silence here, I have been, well, silent on the blog. I’m currently reevaluating what I want to do with this blog. (I’ve been considering using my tumblr instead, but my tumblr mostly consists of reblogging pretty things and people’s opinions on shows I follow. It’s hard to converse on it. On the other hand… everyone likes seeing pretty things, surely?)

So, for the time being, there will continue to be silence here, but I’m active on Twitter at @hcor while I attempt to figure out the Matter of the Blog.


Hello all!

In a brief Helen-catches-up-the-internet post:

  • I was in the US earlier this month! I went with my lovely friend and critique partner Corinne to Boston for a few days, with a (blink and you’ll miss it) day dash to NYC! It was a great trip (with a lot of food; always important), but it turned a bit… snow-shaped (for this Irish girl, VERY snow-shaped). That said, Boston looks wonderful in the snow and I returned with some books. You can read Corinne’s blog about it here, and I’ve included photos here about the two basic points–weather, and food:

Continue reading “Things!”