February, Part One: Signs and edits and road trips, oh my!

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What a difference a month makes! Here at The Inspiration Project we are already celebrating a fantastic start to 2019 with the exciting news of Catherine Ryan Howard’s The Liar’s Girl being shortlisted for Best Novel in the 2019 Edgar Awards! The Edgars are the biggest global awards for crime writers so this is huge news for Catherine who is already packing her case to attend the ceremony in New York in April (more on this from Catherine below).

Our first Inspiration Project event of 2019 was a great success with another group of passionate writers now ready to tackle their plotting, characters and edits with new energy and focus. We have exciting plans for the year ahead so don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter to be the first to hear of our next event and other Inspiration Project developments. For now, over to … us!

Catherine - @cathryanhoward

Despite my being full of the joys of life at the start of January, the truth is it wasn’t long before my motivation and energy started to wane. I had caught the plague, the days were dark and short, and my editor gave me the news that Rewind, AKA Thriller Number 3 Due For Publication In September, needed another draft. (Or a half-draft, more specifically - the ending needed work.) Having got some distance from the book over the Christmas break, I totally agreed with her - but this meant that I had to set the Exciting Shiny New Idea, AKA Thriller Number 4, aside for the time being. Edits can be all-consuming, because you’re doing them in a short space of time to a deadline. So the deeper into January I got, the more it felt like I’d never lived a life where I wasn’t spending hours a day editing, editing, editing. I started to feel about meh. I have [counts them] 12 different frames hanging above my desk and at precisely 1:44am on Sunday 20th, one of them fell off: a framed print that says ‘Something wonderful is about to happen.’ I was about 70% wine at the time but I decided that THIS WAS A SIGN.

Three days later I got a text message from my friend in the States, Erin, telling me that The Liar’s Girl had been nominated for the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award for Best Novel. I don’t have the space to explain how much this means to me (but I’ve written about it on my personal blog on www.catherineryanhoward.com if you want to know) but it is HUGE. It is, by a country mile, the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my writing life and maybe my real life as well. There is no bigger award in crime fiction. Stephen King won it in 2015 for Mr Mercedes and Michael Crichton, author of my favourite novel of all time (and anyone who’s ever heard me talk about writing probably doesn’t need telling what that is) won it under a pseudonym back in the 70s. And to think that little me and little The Liar’s Girl are now one of six on the shortlist for the same award… I just can’t believe it, literally. The ceremony is in New York in April and I’m going - yay! The real question is: how can I possibly concentrate on my edits NOW?!

Hazel - @HazelGaynor

January was a complete blur! Copyedits for MEET ME IN MONACO arrived on the 9th and I hardly looked up until the manuscript was returned on 23rd. Combing through the details and subtle inconsistencies of 96,000 words was never going to be easy, but this book is co-written book, and my co-author – Heather Webb – lives in America, so it became a finely-tuned operation of military precision. Aka a nightmare!

At times we both fell a little out of love with our book (and possibly each other!) as our words became a tangle of tracked changes and comment bubbles. It was overwhelming and exhausting, but we persevered because we knew we were making our book better. New writers often tell me they dislike edits because they feel it is somehow spoiling or lessening their book, that editors stamp all over your ideas and point out your mistakes. No! No! No! Editing is about collaborating, looking at the book objectively, shaping and developing what you have to make it so much more.

Honestly, every book I’ve written (Meet Me in Monaco is my seventh) surprises me by how much it changes and improves through the editing process. Writing a novel is a humbling and exhilarating process that will break you and put you back together again many times over. With MEET ME IN MONACO, Heather and I have gone from the thrill of a pre-Christmas cover reveal on Entertainment Weekly to wondering why we ever started to write a book about Grace Kelly in the first place! (This, by the way, is all perfectly normal).

People often ask, ‘how do you know when it’s done?’ My answer is: if you’re able to walk (rather than crawl) away from the desk to a full fridge and a tidy home, you’re not done yet. And when it is? That’s when you invite the next idea in, and start the whole crazy process again. That’s where I am at the start of February. Game on!


Sometimes deadlines occur at the most inconvenient of times. As in mid-January! Argh! This meant that I had no choice but to work throughout the holidays. But I had something special looming that kept me going. More on this in a bit! 

All the H’s cheered me on as I reached ‘The End’ - a moment that never gets old. It’s one of those magical moments in the life of an author.

My agent was the first to dub me a ‘method author,’ a nickname earned because I like to immerse myself into my characters lives, all in the name of research! My preference is to do this after I’ve finished the first submitted draft before I start developmental edits - or chasing the lovely as I like to call it. This way, I bring fully formed characters with me, experiencing things through their eyes.  

My character Greta goes on a road trip that takes her from Kansas City, across six states, ending up in Las Vegas. You’ve guessed it, with Mr H by my side, we retraced her fictional journey. It was an incredible experience, from the prairies of Kansas, the snowcapped Rockies in Colorado, the red rock of Utah, to the glittering lights of Vegas. The experiences of this week will transform Finding Greta Gale when I begin chasing the lovely!

As I don’t have beta readers, waiting for the verdict from my publisher and agent is nerve-wracking. It doesn’t get any easier with each new book, I promise you! But thankfully, I can share that they love it! In fact, bold statements have been made, they both believe Greta’s story is something special.

In other news, we held our first IP event in Cork, (yay!), I gave a talk to a group of clever, well clued in young adults in Ard Na Mara school, Tramore and I was a guest author at a Listowel Writers Week literary evening in Tralee. A great start to the year. February, let’s be having you! 

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