May, Part Two: Finding the right words


*taps mic* Did you hear the news that we have a date for our next INSPIRATION PROJECT event?!  Come and join us this September at the stunning LexIcon Library in Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin. For full details, and to book your place, see

This month, our three intrepid writers share the ups and downs of writing – and life. There is also talk of underwear and armour. Underarmour? Probably best if you just read on!

Clare Daly

As a writer, you get used to rejection. It’s the default position and you wait for it, every time you send a piece of your work out. The expectation of good news doesn’t really come into play. It’s a coping mechanism, I suppose. Brace yourself, secure your armour and fight on. And it is a battle. Against yourself to steel your emotions, stay the course and keep going.

So when the prospect of good news arrives, you’re on uncertain ground. In order to enjoy the moment, you must remove the armour and be vulnerable again, exposed like a twitching nerve as you wait for news. The closer you get to your dream, the more at risk you are of getting hurt. That’s the nature of the beast unfortunately.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had some lovely developments. Firstly, I won a place on the International Literature Festival’s Date With An Agent. In what was a lovely surprise, I’ll be meeting Simon Trewin on May 25th to chat about my supernatural crime thriller The Nothing After. It’s such a big opportunity and I’m ecstatic to have gotten a place.

More good news arrived. Having sent out submissions in March to three top agents, two of them requested the full manuscript. I can count on one hand – okay, one finger – the number of requests I had for a full when my first book was on submission. To have two, this early out of the gates, is unnerving but brilliant news. My mind see-saws between the what-ifs. What if they like it? What if this is the break I’ve been waiting for? What if it isn’t?

I’m trying to keep busy while I wait for news. I’d like to say I’m writing furiously but the progress there is slow at best. Salvation has come in the form of John Connolly’s A Book of Bones and I’m now happily lost in Charlie Parker’s world and that is always a wonderful place to be.

So for now, the armour is off and I feel like Ser Brienne of Tarth, not knowing what to do with myself when I’m not swinging a sword. I’m trying not to get my hopes up, they may each reject it, but this is the closest I’ve come. Has the battle come to an end, or is it just a lovely respite?

Casey King

A good writing buddy can offer as much support as a decent pair of tuck-you-in, hoist-you-up undergarments. I’m not saying my writing colleagues are like my knickers that I want to sit on them, nor do I want them to hug my bottom, they hold me in and keep me going when I need them. Just like a good bra, they’re close to my heart and underwired to perk me up when my mood is sagging. There have been stumbles, bumps, speed ramps as well as celebrations, cheers and smiles. What you need is someone there for all of it because in this mad writing world you quickly realise how little control you have. You enter a short story or poetry competition, submit your manuscript to an agent or publisher, what happens after that is in someone else’s hands.

However, you can retain control over how you spend your time and who you build your support network with. I made a few wise (and a few bonkers) choices since I started writing – I’ll focus on the wise ones. The year I was selected for a bursary to John Hewitt Summer School in Armagh – it was my choice to enter, someone else’s choice to pick me. I chose to go to Anam Cara in Beara – a fantastic week. I joined Indulgeinwriting. In January 2018 I headed to Wexford for the inaugural Inspiration Project. It was a weekend where something quite unexplained happened, the drive, faith and reassurance I got for my writing was amazing. I’m still in touch with the crew I did this course with, as well as those I met at Anam Cara and in Armagh.

If you invest wisely in where you spend your time and who with, you’ll feel perked up, supported and ready for all that the writing world throws at you. Casey King @letstalkcrime is represented by Kate Nash of Kate Nash Literary Agency

Tric Kearney

Every morning we wake with plans for the day, the week and even the upcoming year. Yet sometimes life has other plans for us. So it was for me these past few weeks. Instead of sitting to write my pitch for ‘Date with an agent’ I was taking part in a concluding chapter, as we walked my Mum up her final path in life.

During those all too few precious weeks in late March, our world ceased to turn. As our time together grew shorter, the days lengthened as every second counted. We cherished final chats and when there were no more, we continued to care for my mum, cocooned in our childhood home, her favourite place in all the world.

A year ago, a single thought had spurred me to begin a memoir. What makes me, me I’d wondered? How was it, that after years of abuse and loss, I’d not only survived, but I was happy? As I began to write I’d hoped to stumble upon an answer. Surprisingly, in the first story a possible answer struck me, as I summed up a seismic encounter. “The voice I’d found that afternoon to finally shout, ’No more’ was not only my voice, but the voices of generations of strong, courageous women in my family, who continue to live through me with every beat of my heart. Their voices will never be silenced.”

How often I recalled those words during our last days with my mum as she mothered us to the end, insisting we not cry as she was looking forward to, ‘waltzing with Dad once more’ and worried how we’d be after she was gone. Now it’s all over. Time to return to the ever-spinning world minus the strongest, most resilient person I’ve ever known. The one who helped make me, me.

I have my final chapter. Now I must find the words to write it.

May, Part One: In which we all go on Excellent Adventures.

We certainly know how to pack a lot into a month! This time it’s all about reaping the rewards for successfully ignoring the urge to feck our laptops out of the window. Cheers to that! We also have EXCITING INSPIRATION PROJECT EVENT NEWS coming very soon. Watch this space, and make sure to sign up to our newsletter to be the first to hear.



I don’t know quite where to begin this month, but let’s try here: 25 April 2016. On that day, a week before the official publication date of Distress Signals, I happened to walk into Dubray Books on Grafton Street and saw that they had it out already. It was the first time I’d seen it on any shelf in any store and I had a little moment. Now flash-forward exactly three years to 25 April 2019 and find me at the Edgar Awards in New York City, seeing the cover of The Liar’s Girl appear on a big screen next to the words ‘Best Novel’, alongside just five other titles (whittled down from 582 submissions. 582!) And while I didn’t win – congrats again, Walter Mosley – right now, that feels like a minor detail. In the past week, I’ve stayed at The Library Hotel (dream: CHECK!), finally met the team who publish my books in the States (who are LOVELY), dashed around NYC bookshops delivering proofs of Rewind, gone to the same party as Harlan Coben (but was too worried about coming off a bit Annie Wilkes to say anything to him) and walked miles around NYC in the spring sun. And approximately 814 other things, which you can see in my Instagram Stories highlight, accessible here if you’ve an account: You can also watch the Best Novel Edgar presentation on YouTube at this link:

And in the morning (update: TODAY!), I’m heading to the opposite coast for the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley and an event at the Consulate General of Ireland in San Francisco. And I’m back in NYC in about a month’s time for BookExpo America. WHOSE LIFE IS THIS?! Having said (all) that, you can take the girl off her couch, but you can’t take the writer… Or, um, something. What I’m trying to say is that it’s my last night in New York, I’ve just eaten a burrito in bed and now I’m typing this with my laptop balanced on my knees while watching Set It Up – AGAIN – on Netflix. So.

And finally: a little note on not winning things. On Friday I got a slew of messages along the lines of ‘Oh NO! Gutted for you!’ etc. etc. Don’t be gutted. I am truly not disappointed. I’ve sat through three award ceremonies now where I came home empty handed and – I promise, I’m being honest here – I was not upset. I didn’t feel like I’d lost anything, only that I’d gained something amazing. Recognition. Validation. Writers I worship saying, ‘You can do this and you do it well.’ That’s what the nomination means to me, and no nomination means more to me than the Edgar for Best Novel. Especially considering that writing the first (and second, and probably third) drafts of The Liar’s Girl made me want to put my head through my computer screen. So it’s all good!


One of my favourite parts of being a writer is announcing a new book. After many anxious months (sometimes years!), of pitching ideas, writing outlines and chapters, or writing the entire book on a wing and a prayer, that moment when you can finally tell the world that you have a new contract signed and a new book on the way is magical stuff. And so it was a few weeks ago for me and Heather when we announced our third co-written historical novel: ADVICE FOR LADY ADVENTURERS, pitched as ‘an historical coming-of-age tale, in the vein of Thelma & Louise’. Although the publication date of 2021 feels like the actual future, it will be on us before we know it, so this month is all about digging into research books, diving into the first draft, and getting the story down.

What I didn’t realise when I started writing, was how much book juggling would be required once I’d established a career. Which is why, as I write Books Seven and Eight, the question ‘how’s the book going’ leaves me a little stumped because the answer is ‘which one?’ While a new book deal was being announced, my book being published this summer – MEET ME IN MONACO – started to hit blogger and reviewer desks, and author blurbs (those lovely quotes you see on the front of books) began to arrive. Our first big publishing trade review from Publisher’s Weekly landed with a huge sigh of relief and lots of excitement. Waiting for early verdicts never gets any easier and when the thumbs up comes in, it’s definitely time to celebrate. I also just heard that Meet Me in Monaco was chosen by as a must-read historical fiction book of 2019, and selected it in their Summer Beach Reads recommendations. Hooray! With the paperback of THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER being released in the UK at the end of May, I’m also stepping back to 2018 me, to promote a book I finished writing over a year ago. Confused? So am I!

Everything gets put on hold during school holidays, and while of course it’s always lovely to spend time together with the fam, I’m sure every writing parent feels that nagging urge to get back to the desk, which is where I am right now, diving back into my next solo novel which I am bursting to talk about, and hope to very soon.  In the meantime, I’m prepping for events in the USA this summer, starting with a trip to Washington, D.C in June to hook up with Heather and speak at the Historical Novel Society annual conference, and possibly* drink cocktails with other historical novelists. Cannot wait!



Editing shenanigans. Elaine Show shenanigans. Orlando shenanigans. All of the shenanigans! That’s basically been my April!

I submitted my second set of Finding Greta Gale edits before Easter. I thought I was pretty much done – I was pleased with the work I’d put into it. But guess what? I’m not there yet. I’ve had a long chat with my editor and her insightful input has opened up further plot threads that need to be explored. During our Inspiration Project events, Hazel, Catherine and I are often asked this question – how will I know when my book is finished? The truth of the matter is, sometimes you need editorial input to help you come to that decision. As writers, we are too close to our own work to be objective. So get help. There are incredible freelance editors available at the end of a google search. Check out for lots of useful information.

In other news, I’m just home from two weeks in the sun with the H’s. We had an amazing time, honestly, it’s impossible to not smile in Orlando 24/7. Love it there! Fun fact alert! Some of you may know this, but for those that haven’t heard this story – I wrote the first draft of Beyond Grace’s Rainbow in Florida, back in 2004! I locked myself in a villa for 14 days and nights, writing around the clock. During the day I wrote by the pool, then at night, I moved my laptop to the queen-size bed. It was the longest time I’d ever been on my own but I loved it! I got lost in the words. Sometimes switching off white noise in our busy lives can be really productive. (This was back in my single days, before Mr H and the small H’s came along.) Anyhow … drum roll, please … at the end of that solo writing holiday, I came home with a suntan and 80,000 words! Now, this draft needed so much work, because it was the shittiest of first drafts. But to me it represented much more – it was a lifetime ambition to write a novel, realised. I wept when I got to the end.

So, this message is for all the aspiring writers who are struggling to get to the end of their first novels. I get how hard it is to commit to write every day. I’m sending you a supportive virtual hug. Feel it? Good. Cos’ now I’m shouting at you, GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY!

I wish someone had done the same to me years while I dithered for a decade about owning my truth – that I am a writer. Get your shitty first draft written and who knows where it will bring you. I have faith in YOU. Writing that first draft of Beyond Grace’s Rainbow was life-changing for me. It took another six years before I got the guts to actually look for an agent and publisher, but that’s a story for another day. Right, now it’s time for me to switch off the vacay mode … I’ve got a book to finish …

April, Part Two: Notions and Emotions


Like ever-changeable April showers, our intrepid writers share their latest ups and downs on their quest for publication.

Clare Daly @claredalyauthor

Submit. Defeat. Repeat.

The rejection for my third book came at the end of March, two weeks after meeting the agent in London. It read, “I like the idea and plot, and think it has legs. However, it did not quite resonate for me. This is an entirely visceral response and I am confident you will find the perfect agent for you.” If a knock back can be called encouraging or responsible for keeping the fire lit, then this is the form it takes. I’ve had enough to know a good one when I see it. No response is the worst, closely followed by a one-line form rejection. It’s generally noted that if a writer is getting any more than that in the way of feedback, then they’re on the right track. So, I’m going with that.

I’ve sent it out to a few others (I’m taking a staggered approach), including an agent who really enjoyed my first book. I’ve also applied for Date With An Agent at the International Literature Festival in May. I didn’t get it last year (with the same book, ouch), but with a new revised draft, I’m having another go. And all the while and competing for my time, is my second book Heavy Lies The Crown – one who’s path will not know rejection as the others do, as I’ll directly self-publish it. It feels strangely liberating to know it will be spared that. I also have a gorgeous cover that I’m delighted with and will reveal as we get closer to release.

As the series begins to take shape, it was time to name it – a dark canopy under which multiple books in the series will reside. It therefore gives me great pleasure to announce The Hunger Chronicles. Our Destiny Is Blood’s working title was The Great Hunger, a two-fold reference to the Irish famine and vampires, so hunger has always been a touchstone for these characters and their fates. It’s not lost on me that it also relates to my own quest. I’m hungry for this – the dream – and the only way to achieve it is to Submit. Defeat. Repeat. That YES can’t be far away, can it?


Casey King @letstalkcrime

Us Irish have a morbid fear of notions. I had to face this fear at the end of March when, after getting my Agent’s advice, and more from fellow writers in the know, I got some author pictures done. I was surprised at how nervous I felt, and how the closeness of the shots made me feel quite ‘out there’. Of course, being ‘out there’ is a necessary part of the process, but I have spent most of my career getting the job done, keeping my head down and powering on through shift-work and everything else that comes with being part of the emergency services. This is such a new experience for me. I really did enjoy it and a lot of that was down to the wonderful photography skills and experience of Ger Holland, and it was great craic – another thing us Irish love – and another step to enjoy on this amazing, bonkers journey.

So, London Book Fair 2019, the feedback from my Agent was fantastic, with expressions of interest in my novel and enquiries of further novels in the series. Very exciting. This leads me to some of the best advice I have received in my writing journey, and that is to keep writing. And I did, I kept going because, as you will hear time and time again, there is no such thing as an overnight success. It takes work, dedication and sticking with it. (Ahem, Inspiration Diaries Part 1 and Catherine’s FAB news). Because I have stuck with it, I was able to relay to my Agent that yes, I have a sequel in the pipeline and have a third outlined in the same series. Phew, less pressure, I hope!!! So, keep writing, keep improving, and most importantly, don’t give up.


There is no entry from Tric Kearney this month due to a family bereavement. We all send our love and deepest condolences to Tric, and family.

April, Part One: In which one of us has HUGE NEWS!


When we decided to start The Inspiration Diaries at the end of last year, it could have been virtual tumbleweed blowing across our screens with nothing much to tell you at all. And then a picture fell off Catherine’s wall, and now look! What all of us have learned in the years we’ve been writing is that a career as a writer has more ups and downs than a theme-park rollercoaster ride. We work hard and hope for the best, and when the best happens … pure magic!


March has always featured heavily in my writing life, for some weird reason. I self-published Mousetrapped in March. I got The Call in March, when my agent rang to tell me that we’d got a deal for Distress SignalsThe Liar’s Girl came out last March. And this March… Well, we’ll get to that.

From the get-go, it was a busy month. On the first day of it I flew to Germany with a pink PowerPoint presentation to deliver a talk on crime writing to the Frankfurt Writers Conference. The following week I was down in Cork, taking part in The Business of Books, a Network Ireland event that was held in the lovely Vibes and Scribes bookshop on Lavitt’s Quay and I did a school visit to Coláiste na Toirbhirte in Bandon the following morning, where I got to tell a group of fifth years (age 16-17) what I wished someone had told me when I was their age. The next day – World Book Day in Ireland – I was interviewed on Cork’s 96FM about female crime writers and book clubs while sat in my parents’ bedroom. (They listened to it go out on air downstairs. The glamour!) Then it was off to London for a party my publisher always has on the eve of the London Book Fair and after all that I needed a lie down and we weren’t even half way through the month. But I had work to do: UK page proofs and USA copyedits on Rewind. (Page proofs is the stage after copyedits, which you check the typeset/final pages.) I also finally managed to finish the detailed synopsis I needed to do for Book 4 and was WELL PLEASED with meself when I finally figured out a good ending for it. Rewind proofs have now been printed and are, as I type this, winging their way to some of my fellow authors in the hope they’ll get time to read it, like it and provide what we call ‘blurbs’ which are those little endorsements you get to see on the cover of books that, everyone hopes, helps sell the book. This is a TERRIFYING time because it’s the first time anyone outside of my agency or publishing house will be reading the book. And that was it. Wasn’t it? I feel like I’m forgetting something…

JK! Obviously the big news for me this month was that I could FINALLY tell everyone: I’ve signed a major new US deal for 6 more books. For a week, this was plastered everywhere – on my blog, on Twitter, in the media – and by the week’s end, I had a double-page spread in the Echo alongside my brother (who stars in a movie called Beyond The Woods which was up for an award in the UK) and appeared on the Today show with Maura and Daithi, so I think enough’s been said about that. But I’m very, very happy and excited and what I really love about this moment is that this isn’t a story of overnight success, or a headline grabbing deal for a debut, but an example of hard work and hanging on in there. If you want to read more about that, I’ve written about it on my blog.

Finally, I’d just like to say: The Inspiration Diaries were Hazel’s idea and boy oh boy, am I glad she suggested we do them in 2019! In previous years it would’ve been mostly crying and Netflix.



Apart from spending most of March being incredibly proud of our Catherine’s phenomenal NEWS (in ALL CAPS!), it was a busy and strangely emotional month for me. On International Women’s Day, I returned to the law firm I left ten years ago, where I participated in an event with Marian Keyes, Emilie Pine and Sinead Gleeson. To be back in the boardroom where I used to have Very Important Meetings, and to sit beside Marian discussing my writing career, was a real full circle ‘pinch me’ moment. Marian then very kindly recommended Meet Me in Monaco in her St. Patrick’s Day ‘fillum’, and my cup completely runneth over!

March also meant DEADLINES, and I’m enormously relieved to have finished the manuscript for my next book (when I say ‘finished’, I mean ‘finished that draft’). It is now with my agent, and I’m in that agonising phase of writing called Waiting To Hear if she likes it/loves it/can immediately sell it for a bazillion dollars! A family skiing trip to Austria was the perfect wonderful distraction for a week, but now I’m back pressing F9 a thousand times a day. Fingers crossed for good news soon. I feel like a debut author again, biting my nails.

For the last week of March, I was Writer in Residence for The Book Club Girls, a large Facebook Book Club group who picked The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter as their book of the month. It was so lovely to chat with them each day about different aspects of researching and writing the book. And in Very European News which has nothing to do with Brexit, I signed contracts for French, Italian, German and Swedish rights for the book. Ooo la laa!

Finally, I visited a wonderful creative writing group at Drumshallon Forge Heritage Centre in Drogheda, and also spoke to the Transition Year students at Cross and Passion College in Kilcullen, and presented the 2019 Hazel Gaynor Creative Writing Awards to the three winners. So much talent. The future of Irish writing is very bright!

April is for sleeping, right?



March was all about the edits. Most writers I know would rather play a never-ending game of Jenga with Trump than tackle their edits. But I love this stage of the process. Once the shitty first draft is written, it’s all gravy for me. Unfortunately, things became complicated when both my kids caught Scarlet Fever, something I thought only existed in a Jane Austen novel! Alas, no. With half of the H house at home sick, the juggle struggle got real. I had no choice but to work when the kids were asleep or napping during the day. It was tricky, but I still handed in Finding Greta Gale on time. Why is it important that I tell you all of this? Because life has a habit of throwing curve balls at the most inopportune times. The trick is to not let those balls derail you from following your dream. Or as Jane Austen would say, get thine arse in a chair and scribe!

I’ve had a long editorial chat with both my editor and agent post edits. The good news is that they still love this book. Yay! The bad news is that the first third is still running too long and needs to be trimmed. Not so many Yays! But I also know that they are right and the book doesn’t feel ‘right’ yet. I’ll know when it gets there.

In other news, plans are afoot for the paperback release of A Thousand Roads Home later this year in the UK and Ireland. I’ll be visiting Harper Collins in London for a presentation to outline strategy and marketing plans next week. And I’ve also started work on two outlines for what will be Book 9 and 10! I need to tease them out to see if they are viable, novel-length stories. Then it’s time to share them with my agent to see if she likes them and can ultimately sell them! I know some writers hate the commercial side of books. But here’s another top tip my friends, if you want to pay the bills as well as following your creative dream, then it’s important to embrace that!

Right now it’s time to get myself ready for The Elaine Show. I’m back in the Virgin Media studios for more fun and games on the panel. Have a great month!

March, Part Two: Great Expectations


In Part Two of our March diaries, our three intrepid writers knuckle down, and this time, it’s getting serious! Amazing to see how much has already happened in the first three months of 2019. Cheering you on all the way, ladies!

Clare – @claredalyauthor

On paper it looked straightforward. A carefully curated day in London. Book research at St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Charles Dickens Museum, Buckingham Palace and the V&A, all intricately scheduled around the reason for my trip – the chance to pitch my novel to an agent at the London Book Fair. My bleary eyes and sore feet perhaps tell a more chaotic tale today, but I needed those lovely distractions in case it all went horribly wrong.

It’s a tricky thing to master, to sell yourself and your work in ten precious minutes. The worry that you’ll forget your pitch, that stage fright will set in and they’ll think you’re a twit. And so, while I told myself going to London would be no big deal, the anxiety yesterday and all week has been at def con one.

The comparisons to speed dating are accurate. You are looking for a new relationship. You long to make that connection. To find the one to steer you on the right course. And you cling to the notion that one day, someone will say yes. In a pitching scenario, no matter how much you rehearse the conversation in your head, its never going to play out like that in reality. Like a river, this one meandered, a different flow to the babbling brook I’d practiced. Thankfully they were interested in my premise and asked that I send them a submission directly as opposed to their online system, which sounds promising. At the end of the day it still comes down to the words on the page.

So why do it? Why put myself through it? I can email submissions off with less time, money and anxiety. I do it because I hope that all those little and big things (like flying to London), someday will cultivate the right pitch, with the right agent and in turn the right publisher. I am looking for my champion, and I’ll keep looking until I find them.

Tric – @trickearney

It’s March and life is racing by. I’d love to say, so too is my memoir, but in truth, it’s an ever-shrinking work in progress as I’ve deleted more than I’ve written this month!
At times this has frustrated me, but I hold on to the idea that any writing is better than none and even a bad day has merit.

So, now I’ll tell you something I’d rather not. I’ve decided to apply for an event called ‘Date with an agent.’ Why would I rather not tell you? Because, it’ll be embarrassing to confess in a few weeks I was rejected. However, such is the life of a writer, and if we only read of success, we will never know how many twists there are for the majority in the road to publication. Of course, I might also get lucky!

To apply I must send in a short author bio, the first chapter of my work and a synopsis. They will choose sixty writers to meet one of six agents. Unfortunately, only one agent has an interest in memoir, but that’s okay, I’m only looking for one. I’ve been trying to write the ‘up to 1000 word’ synopsis and honestly I’m beginning to doubt I know my own life story! I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve congratulated myself
on a job well done, only to read it back and think… no, that’s not the story I’ve written.
However, I’m sure I’ll get there, eventually.

On a more positive note my ‘It’s My Life,’ column in the Irish Examiner’s Feelgood is still
going strong. It’s not easy to come up with a weekly humorous account of my life, but I
always get there in the end.

Until next month, thank you for reading and if you’re supposed to be writing… get back to it.

Marie – @letstalkcrime

Will the Real Writer Please Stand Up?
A crime fighting crime writer, that’s me. I can’t remember at what stage I felt it was okay to call myself a writer. I don’t recall using the term poet even when I had two poems commended in The Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry competition, or when I was invited to read my poetry at the Hunt Museum in Limerick. I’ve no memory of using the term playwright when I co-wrote a staged play. I think I used the term short-story writer on publication of my first two-thousand-word piece, and maybe when I came third in the Kanturk Arts Festival Flash Fiction competition. But to describe myself to someone else as a writer, I don’t exactly know when I first did.

If you draw or paint, you’re an artist, if you can Jive or do the Rumba, you’re a dancer. So, what does it take? Buying several fancy notebooks and novelty pens, thinking about writing, doing a course? I bet you hesitate to tell people that you write. They don’t realise that if you head to a literary festival it’s for more than just the craic. If you dedicate a weekend to meeting like-minded, novel creating people you try to justify the reasoning or the cost. Now, where you want to end up as a writer? That is a whole other manifestation, and blog post. If you write then you are a writer, whether you are published or not, whether you have an agent or not.

Towards the end of February, I got an excited email from my agent saying I was listed under The Book Seller’s Agents’ Hotlist for the London Book Fair 2019, and she sent me a copy of the page. Maybe now I can call myself a writer, or a crime writing crime fighter.

March, Part One: Madness!


I’m not quite sure how we’re already in March, but spring has allegedly sprung and lots of new green shoots and little buds of exciting things are blossoming among your Inspiration Diaries authors. Suffice to say, February might have been short, but a lot happened. Over to … us!

Catherine @cathryanhoward
The thing I love most about this job is how, at any moment, an email can land in your inbox, completely out of the blue, utterly unexpected, that completely changes your day, week, month – or maybe even career. Being a writer is like fly fishing. You are cold and wet and alone a lot of the time – look, just go with it, okay? – but you have lines in the water and you never know when, um, a big fish is going to tug on one of them and make all the coldness, wetness and aloneness totally worth it. (I believe ‘big fish’ is the technical term. Ahem.) Since The Liar’s Girl was nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel at the end of January, Exciting News Emails have been hitting my inbox every other day.

Since last we figuratively spoke, I’ve been interviewed and photographed for a newspaper feature, and been on TV and radio. I’ve been invited to events in New York and an amazing book festival in California. Exciting things I can’t tell you about yet are happening behind the scenes. And I didn’t do anything! Lest I have to remind you: I was sitting on my couch surrounded by piles of laundry when the news came in. I think this is a great comfort – no matter how you feel today about your work-in-progress, your career, etc., in this world, tomorrow could be the beginning of something special. Just hang in there. Keep going. Don’t give up. And keep checking your Gmail…

In far less exciting, mundane, actual work news: REWIND has gone to the printers for Round 1: Bound Proofs. This is when they take the copyedited but not yet proofread text and make proof copies to go out to other authors, reviewers, etc. I will also get a copy of those pages in PDF that I’ll print out here and check for errors myself. The funniest thing copyedits turned up? At age 36.5, I discovered that Bonfire Night on June 23 isn’t an Irish thing, or even a Cork thing – it’s a Cork City thing. Who knew?! Now: onto Book 4…

After struggling through mid-term break (deadlines – what deadlines?), I was very relieved to return the proof pages for Meet Me in Monaco (the last chance to make changes or corrections – yikes!). I’m now at the other end of the process, finishing the first draft of my new book which I plan to send to my agent before I hit the slopes in Austria mid-month, because trying to ski, write and eat strudel at the same time is a skill I haven’t yet mastered! Plans are also coming together for the Meet Me in Monaco US book tour in July, and Heather and I have been quietly working on something behind the scenes – watch this space!

Being a writer isn’t just about sitting at the desk, but also about meeting other writers and being part of the publishing industry. I took my own advice recently and hopped over to London to hear Tracy Chevalier talk about Girl With a Pearl Earring on the 20th anniversary of the book’s publication. This book, and Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl, sparked my love of historical fiction, so it was amazing to hear Tracy talk about her research and writing, and to wait for her to sign a copy of the book. Inspiration tank definitely topped up!

Next week, I’m celebrating International Women’s Day at an event at my former employer, with some incredible female Irish writers. It feels very fitting to return to the place where my corporate career ended ten years ago this month. I had no idea where my words would take me, and I’m so grateful I didn’t give up, despite many rejections, especially as I got the amazing news yesterday that The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter hit the USA Today bestsellers list at #33! Inspiration, if any were needed, to keep going, and keep working hard. That ‘yes’ is out there.

Carmel @happymrsh
I think February is a short month because just like Caesar and the Romans, we all want it to be March already! It’s been a month of two halves for me.

The first, a much needed time of recharging and planning,  which included midterm with the kids. (See January’s diary entry to understand why I needed this time off!) But while I wasn’t writing, I was working. I ticked off some jobs that had been neglected in the last quarter of 2018. I’m happy to report that my website has now been updated, a newsletter is written and I even did a little Kon Mari on the kid’s wardrobes. #Smug.

Planning came in the form of a long chat with my agent. We discussed plans for the future and that’s always energising. World domination still top of the agenda! If you know me you know that I always dream big. Having the right agent is vitally important for a writer. You need someone who is always in your corner, championing and challenging you. So when it comes to this decision, do your research, take your time and find the right fit for you and your career.

The second half of February has been about edits. Or chasing the lovely, as I like to call it. I’m determined to make this version of Finding Greta Gale the best it can possibly be. I’ve had incredibly insightful suggestions from both my editor and agent. They know my writing so well, they always push me in exactly the right way.

Did you know that I sometimes do video chats with book clubs? If geography isn’t in my favour, technology always comes to the rescue! I had a great chat with The Writers Circle – with members from the US to France. Use the contact form on my website for more information.

Lastly, for the first time in over twenty years, I went back to school! I attended a two-day screenwriting course in Dublin. My plan is to write a screenplay before the year-end. Who knows where that might bring me?

Now, it’s time to get back to Greta …

February, Part Two: Stepping Stones.

IMG_0736Hugely inspiring stuff this month from our three writers. We are cheering you on all the way, ladies.

Casey King (@Letstalkcrime) – Don’t Look Back in Anger

Imagine asking someone who’s laying in their hospital bed: ‘What good are you now that your injuries are such that you can’t perform your job properly?’ You’d think – among other things – What a wagon or (insert relevant expletive). This was said to me. Not by a stranger, not by a friend, but by me to me. How destructive was that? Very, I can tell you.

With over a decade under my belt as an active, productive and ambitious member of the Irish Police Force, I suddenly found myself injured in the line of duty. As the physical injuries healed slowly, but surely – still not fully – that little voice, questioning my worth, remained. I needed help! It arrived in the form of a writing workshop in my local library. This workshop got me out of bed, out of my head, into the car, and among people. To others it looked like a little thing but to me this was huge. I met fellow writers and was encouraged to use the library to explore other abilities I had buried for years, and so began my writing apprenticeship.

It would have been easy to listen to that destructive voice, to believe it telling me my abilities and skills at the time of life altering injuries had an impact on my current worth to society, and I did listen, for a while. I won’t pretend it was easy to find myself again, it was damn hard, but so worth it. Be kind to yourself when you’re under pressure. If you hear that little voice telling you ‘you’re not good enough’ or ‘who do you think you’re fooling having these dreams and goals’, then STOP! If you wouldn’t say it to someone else, then do not say it to yourself.

Casey King is represented by Kate Nash of Kate Nash Literary Agency.

Clare Daly @claredalyauthor

A few months ago, I would have said I was done with writing pursuits that involve travel, money and worry. In particular my annual pilgrimage to the London Book Fair for an agent 1:2:1. Twice I’ve been and twice I’ve lucked out. The second time I went back because I felt I had something to prove to myself – that I was in this for the long game and however discouraged I’d been at the suggestion that I ‘write something else’, I would go back again. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but the chance to meet with an agent actively looking for crime and ghost stories this year is too tempting for me to pass up.

And so next month, I’m off again to London for the day. The meeting itself is ten minutes. Yes, I am crazy. I’ll be pitching the new draft of my supernatural detective novel, The Nothing After. Set in New York, it tells the story of a detective who must solve a series of supernatural murders with the help of his fourteen-year-old brother who’s dead.

After London I’ll start submitting elsewhere and see how it goes. The manuscript is with a few trusted readers, so I’ll have their feedback too before I go. I’ve also booked the ‘Beat The Slushpile’ course at the Irish Writer’s Centre with Sallyanne Sweeney later this month. I attended the course back in 2016, but I’m going back to see where my self-publishing now sits within my query letter. Sometimes it sits awkwardly with me (damn you inner critic), so I’m keen to put it across in the right way.

Finishing this draft of The Nothing After means I’m now full steam into re-writes on Heavy Lies The Crown for its October release. I miss my vampires when I’m not writing them, so it’s lovely to pick up where we left off.

For me, this year is all about perspective. One that lets the giddy joy of daydreaming back in and sees the rejections along the way as stepping stones towards achieving those dreams. Wish me luck!

Tric Kearney @mythoughtsonapage

So, we’re into February and I’m sure you’re agog wondering how I’ve been getting on? Well, firstly let me remind you what I’m doing. I’ve ditched the story of fiction I was writing, to write the one I need to write; my own story. But what exactly is my story and what parts of it should I write? That’s taken me time to figure out and in truth I’m not completely there.

If only I’d had an easy life with a measure of madness thrown in? Then I could write a hilarious memoir which people would lavish with praise, recounting the funniest stories to their friends and insisting it’s a book they must read. Unfortunately, that was not my life. Mine is a story of abuse by my swimming coach, George Gibney, and the loss of my dad. Of injustice in the Irish courts and heartache. Not much to laugh at there! Yet, that’s not the full story.

As a person, I laugh loudly more often than most and I’m living a happy ever after. So, what has made me, me? Were the seeds of survival sown in my carefree childhood? What does the isolation of abuse feel like? How is it possible to laugh again after the monster that is Motor Neurone Disease robs you of your father? How do you cope when your abuser walks free? Is it possible to love and be loved after abuse? Can you ever trust anyone with your child?

Through a series of short stories, I hope to bring you into my world as I lived it, and in so doing answer these and other questions. Each story will tell its own tale and collectively they’ll tell my story. For too long others have spoken on my behalf. Now, one word at a time I will be the one to tell my story.

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 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! 

January, Part Two: New beginnings

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For Part Two of our January updates we are so delighted to introduce our three former Inspiration Project attendees – Casey King, Clare Daly and Tric Kearney – who will share monthly musings on their writing year. We have three words to say to these ladies: GO, GO, GO!

Casey King (@letstalkcrime) – Parking My Dreams

It is close to the date, my self-imposed deadline to call a halt to my writing pursuits in the face of rejections. I wasn’t firing my laptop out of the window – though there were many times this did seem like a logical option – nor was I abandoning all writing ventures, no, I was going to complete the project I was working on then shelve my ambitions for the time being, and, as such, park my dreams. It had the effect of clearing my mind.

I went to events and festivals, not with expectation, but with a clearer picture of what I wanted to achieve, and I set about clearing the rubble. Despite my deadline, I continued to submit, changing my query letter somewhat, remaining professional, but I refined and focused my points. I began to get requests for more, one agent looking to see the whole thing within two hours of reading the first three chapters and synopsis. As well as having a play longlisted, I won an opportunity to pitch to an agent at Wexford Literary Festival. Bag of nerves wouldn’t begin to describe my demeanour. I’d held my passion and belief in my book, and while surrounded by the most wonderful well-wishers, hugs and support, I pitched and it went great.

Then I received another two requests for full manuscripts, including follow up email correspondence with one agent and an invitation to meet another while she was in Ireland. Just before Christmas, I accepted an offer of agent representation, close to one year after travelling to Wexford to attend the inaugural Inspiration Project. It did no harm to take a step back, but I’m so glad I did not park my dreams.

Casey King is represented by Kate Nash of Kate Nash Literary Agency.

Tric Kearney (@trickearney)

Firstly, let me into introduce myself, my name is Tric Kearney … and I’m a writer. There you go, that’s my first time publicly describing myself as such. For a long time I’ve struggled to justify that title. Over and over I’ve asked myself, is a writer someone who writes, or someone who is a published author? I’ve decided, a writer is someone who takes their writing seriously, and this year I intend to do just that.

Currently, I write a weekly column in the Irish Examiner newspaper called ‘It’s My Life’, but I want more. My New Year writing resolutions were to call myself a writer (job done) and by the end of 2019 have finished my book and hopefully found it a home.

This time last year I attended the Inspiration Project weekend. I was floundering, drowning in a sea of doubt and deafened by the voices in my head, laughing at my writing ‘notions’ and criticising everything I wrote. That weekend put an end to my doubts and gave me the courage to stand up to those voices and write on. I’d an idea for a book and by the time the weekend was over I was determined to get it written.

And I nearly did. I wrote over 40,000 words and entered a chapter to be critiqued by an agent. The feedback was very encouraging. However, the words stopped. Another book was calling me. A less than easy write. A voice from my past whispered the idea and it was not easily silenced.

Write what you know they say. Well this was a story I knew well. My story. A tale of abuse, loss, love and healing, the writing of which I’d like to share with you here over the next few months and hopefully in time we’ll celebrate together as I type ‘The End’.

Clare Daly (@claredalyauthor)

Let’s start with a few numbers. Books on release: 1; Books in progress: 2 (2nd drafts) Agent: 0; Rejections: Plenty, thank you very much.

I approached 2019 with a big NO to making plans and setting out writing goals. In 2018 I was laser-focused and well, nothing of great repute happened, other than attending The Inspiration Project which basically has kept me in the game. Maybe my goals were too ambitious – to self-publish the second book in my historical fantasy series and find an agent for my third novel, but then 2018 beat ten bells out of me and it just didn’t happen. But the thing is my goals are still the same and if I want to make them happen, I’m going to need a plan. I released my debut Our Destiny Is Blood in October 2017, so I’m eyeballing this October for its sequel Heavy Lies The Crown.

If I’m honest I’m not sure had I written a standalone novel I would self-publish again, but I began something with these characters and I’m not ready to give up on them. The self-publishing came about from being told by agents that the book and its characters (there be vampires!) weren’t on trend, so doing it myself was my best bet. It wasn’t a disaster. It’s selling, I’ve had some nice publicity opportunities, and readers even like it, but I find it a lonely ship to steer and an expensive one (it costs very little to put a book together on Amazon, but to meet professional standards and then be visible, costs plenty). Going again does require another leap of faith.

But then if I hadn’t taken the chances I have, I wouldn’t be three books deep and thinking of my fourth. So lots of work to do this year. My heroine Evelyn is heading to Victorian London, so we have quite the bags to pack and though writing is a lonely pursuit, I get to share the journey with Catherine, Hazel, Carmel and you! So come on 2019, *rolls up sleeves* let’s just get this done, shall we?

January, Part One: The Coffee Diaries


Welcome to a new year, and our new monthly blog, The Inspiration Diaries, where we’ll share the ups and downs of six writers over the course of 2019. Part One each month will feature three published writers (the Inspiration Project founders). Part Two will feature three writers who attended an Inspiration Project event and are now chasing publication and snapping at our heels! Six writers. Twelve months. What could possibly go wrong?!

We hope you enjoy following our progress and that our collective writing experiences inspire and motive you, and remind you that you’re not in this alone. If nothing else, we hope it makes you smile! First up, it’s January, which means big plans and coffee feature very highly …

Catherine (@cathryanhoward)

For the first time in a while, I didn’t have a deadline looming over at Christmas because I handed in my second draft of Book 3 on Friday 14 December. (At 4.59pm. The deadline was that day, so 5pm.) It’s called Rewind and it’s due to be published in September. I wasn’t planning on writing anything until I got back to my desk on the 7th of this month, but I actually ended up starting the synopsis for Book 4, which is what my editor needs next. I’ve already given her a short pitch and she loves the idea, but I need to prove I have a plot to go with it (!!) before I can run off and start writing.

The German translation of The Liar’s Girl (Ich Bringe die der Nacht, ‘I Bring You The Night’) was published on the 1st, the print edition of that will follow on the 22nd and the UK/Ireland paperback of The Liar’s Girl came out on the 3rd. (Just as I’m writing this update I got an email from my editor showing a lovely display of it in Heathrow Airport!) I also signed Norwegian contracts for The Liar’s Girl; foreign translation deals are always a lovely and exciting surprise. I’m expecting my line edits back on Rewind any minute, which is where my editor will have gone through the whole manuscript marking notes as she goes, and I’ll have to get them back ASAP.

I’ve cracked the spine on a new Best Self Journal, which is sort of like an intensive 13-week planner, which I find great for making progress on projects. I’ve committed to writing at least one new blog post on each month this year, so ideally I’ll draft a couple this month and hopefully manage to send out a newsletter as well. This may be wishful thinking, because we also have our first Inspiration Project in Cork on the 26th. A busy month! SEND COFFEE.

Carmel (@happymrsh)

Happy New Year! Mine was a happy one, deep in my writing cave working on my eighth novel – Finding Greta Gale. The deadline is 11th Jan. (Fork!) So other than taking a few days off, I’ve been at my desk chasing the lovely. This book will most likely hit the bookshelves in Ireland in the autumn. Once my editor in Harper reads this draft, I’ll start edits throughout January &  February. To help with edits, I’m off on a big research trip next weekend. I’m driving from Kansas to Las Vegas on the same epic road trip my central characters undertake! I always go method in research and this is the ultimate method authoring!  Follow me on Instagram if you want to see what I get up to.

In other news, the Harper Collins art team have been working hard on the UK & Ireland paperback cover for A Thousand Roads Home, which comes out in June. It’s very different from my previous covers, I’m excited to share it with my readers! I was chuffed to make the top ten in the annual Eason’s readers poll for favourite books in 2018. It’s always extra special when it’s a readers vote.  Speaking of readers, did you know about the Carmel Harrington Reading Room – a private group on Facebook. We’ve started a reading challenge for 2019, which kicks off with a book in January that has a movie/tv tie-in. I’ve chosen Bird, but will hopefully get to You and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society too. If you want to join the group for bookish chat & competitions and of course this reading challenge, the link can be found: Facebook.

Aside from all that fun, I’m already thinking about possible ideas for book 9, which will be pitched to my agent early this year. I’m out of contract once I hand Finding Greta Gale in. (Fork!) And so the cycle will begin all over again. I need to do a newsletter, blog posts, our Inspiration Project event in Cork, several author events … so in summary: SEND ME COFFEE TOO!

Hazel (@hazelgaynor)

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice.” This quote from T.S. Eliot sums up perfectly how I feel about 2019.

2018 was a great year for me professionally, but it wasn’t perfect (what year is?), so I’m very ready to embrace a new year with all its possibilities, fresh starts and bold intentions. Of course I really just want everyone to be healthy and happy this year, but I also really want a movie deal and a hardback with sprayed edges and posters on the underground, so I hope 2019 (and Reese Witherspoon) are listening! All aboard the Hopes and Dreams Express, my friends!

As I do every year, I’m approaching 2019 full of new hope and writing aspirations, and the usual combination of excitement and dread. Early January means diving into copy edits for my summer release, MEET ME IN MONACO – my seventh novel and the second I’ve co-written with Heather Webb. After that, I’m really looking forward to our next Inspiration Project event in Cork on 26th (come and join us!), and then it’s back to the desk to tackle the ‘shitty first draft’ of my next historical novel, an ambitious project which is already challenging (aka terrifying) me in lots of ways – and I’m really excited about it! Early summer will see the UK paperback release of The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter, and in July I’ll be heading to the USA for a conference and book tour for Meet Me in Monaco. I also have loads of ideas buzzing around my head for new projects, so I might need a long lie down in August.

My word for 2019 is ‘soar’ (I have a painting of a kingfisher on my desk as inspiration, the reason for which will hopefully become clear later in the year). This year I want to write for the pure pleasure it brings, and try to worry less about things that are out of my control. 2019 is about stretching my writing wings, and being brave. The rest, as they say, will hopefully follow. In the meantime, SEND ALL THE COFFEE!