Vision Boards and Garth Brooks

While I was chatting with a close friend of mine, we were discussing our goals for this year. Stuff we really wanted to mark off our To Do List once and for all. 

So I came up with a Vision Board. A simple notice board with my goals pinned on to it. Not in a list form but separately. Beneath each title piece, I will stick on the steps I take to make this goal or desire achievable as the year goes by. The important word in the last sentence is steps, little and manageable so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the bigger picture. 

Write up a calendar for a week, place it near your pin board so you have a clear vision of what you are doing and when. On Monday you might write your blog post, Tuesday you will check out competition submissions, Wednesday work on your novel, Thursday, research etc. Put down what applies to you reaching what it is you want. Each of these baby steps are putting you on the next rung of the ladder to get you to the top. As the year goes by, I shall see where I am making progress and where I need to improve. This is a simple method or reminder of what my path is and if it’s the correct one for me.


If by the end of the year, I have not had success in all my goals, it will serve as a reminder that I did work towards it and will encourage me to keep going. After all, Rome was not built in a day. 

Don’t forget to pin photos or pictures of people you admire or want to emulate on this board too. Having visual aids helps keep our focus and mind on what matters to us. Important also is not to fear changing your goals, maybe what you thought you wanted isn’t right for you, then work for what is, what it is that suits where you want to be in life. Sometimes what we think we want can be so wrong. I love Garth Brooks song, Unanswered Prayers. Believe me, I have so many unanswered prayers, I am very grateful for them. 

This is a link to Garth’s song for you to enjoy 

In other news, I’ve finished the writing of my third novel, and have a bunch of exciting stuff going on around me right now. If you haven’t got into The Lacey Taylor story yet, you can start at My Husband’s Sin and Don’t Call Me Mum, and enjoy the many Letters From Lacey here on the site! 

Happy Writing

Not Your Usual HAPPY NEW YEAR Post!

When I sat to write this post, I had no idea what I was going to say. We all know about resolutions and fresh starts and new diets but what kept playing on my mind was the word: time. I pondered on this and asked myself what the word signified for me. 

Time is precious. We do not own it nor can we control it. What we do with it, how we use it, how we let it make us feel, is in our control. Looking back over 2018, I realised I had often thought what a long year, when would it end? Not because of anything in particular, although we did lose family and friends, but what year do we not? It is part of life. We had weddings too in 2018, happy wonderful days shared with family and friends, again, not unusual. 

It is said by many as you get older the years get shorter and yes I have found this true, but 2018 was different, it feels like it has gone on forever and while we roll in to a new year, it is the celebrations and festivities that make it stand out. It is after all only day following night, like every other day following night. I know it’s more than this, but I’m keeping it simple, why complicate life any more than necessary?

Time boxes us in. We must meet this deadline, we must be here, be there, roll on the weekend. By having Time dictate, we can lose our confidence, lose hope, break promises, plans, we doubt ourselves. I never finished it, whatever ‘it’ is, I missed the deadline, I can’t reach that goal, that dream, I didn’t have enough Time, I’m a loser, a failure, I might as well give up. 

Forget about it, let the, ‘if only, I should have,’ behind you. It’s gone, so start again!

I didn’t get to finish my novel, did the world end? Nope. BUT I did make progress on it. I didn’t get to meet all the friends I wanted to meet in person, have they abandoned me? Nope, (true friends will never), BUT I did connect with them in some form. I never got to walk every day for my health, BUT I did when I could, well done, me! 

As sure as day follows night, I will achieve all I want to, in my own good time on my terms. Life will throw a few curve balls but I expect that. 

May 2019 bring many blessings to you all.  

Mary x

Where to start with Character

In this post I share basic and simple ways to create your characters, whether for short stories/novels. I’ve included also a basic CV that you can use while working on who will be in the story.


  • Introduce your main character in the opening of your story.
  • My notebook with details of the characters of my first novel, My Husband’s Sin

    Characters through their dialogue move the story forward and gives an insight into their personalities. Their slang, tone, vocabulary, all is unique to that person.

  • Write someone who the reader will identify with, then give that character a crisis to overcome and so your story begins.
  • Naming your character, put thought into it. Make sure the names you choose suit the era of the story (make sure it’s in existence for the time set, modern may not have been heard of historically)
  • When thinking about the characters in your story, it helps to make a CV, so you can refer to it when moments of recall escape you, be it the simple colour of their eyes to which leg was their tattoo on.

CHARACTER’S CV:  A character’s CV is a list of their features, likes, dislikes family status etc. 

  • Eye colour, Hair, Height, Age
  • Temperament
  • Date of birth
  • Moral/ethical/religious beliefs
  • Political stance
  • Hobbies/Interests
  • Habits good or bad, (biting nails,)
  • Quirks or eccentricities
  • Likes/Dislikes
  • Fears/Phobias
  • Short or long-term goals in life
  • Hope and dreams
  • Look at people around you, what are they wearing? How do they behave?
  • Look in magazines, cut out photos that resemble your character (See accompanying image for mine)
  • Where does your character live?
  • What is his/her family relationship like? With friends, work colleagues?
  • What does he/she work at?
  • Where did they go to school/university?

Getting out and meeting others

Bestselling UK author, Adele Parks and writer, Mary Angland, at Wexford Lit Festival 2018

We all know that writing can be an isolating career, cutting ourselves off when penning our novels, and then once the story is finally down on paper we have to go back in and edit. The editing is intense and draining for many and the ‘editing cave’ is often a term used by writers when they cut themselves off from society as they tackle their project.

So getting out and meeting others is very important. We need it to refuel, to charge up our writing batteries and just to feel human again!  This is where festivals and events come in to their own.

Sharing news and celebrating wins and awards let us know that our work is valued, that time locked away, (well it feels that way) has been worth it. But you don’t have to wait for a special occasion, join your local writing group. If you don’t have one, consider setting one up. Libraries love to have groups meet in them, and staff are always so helpful.

APIBA short list event 2018, with writer, Marie O’ Halloran and multi bestselling author, (TV series, Taken Down) Jo Spain .

By meeting fellow writers, you will be rewarded, not just with tips and hints on to improve your writing but making new friends, actual friends in the flesh, not just little thumbnail photos on social media.

So look up what’s on near you and consider attending, your mental and physical health will benefit and your writing will be inspired with new ideas.

5 Beginner Tips For Becoming a Writer

At the beginning of your writing career, you are writer, agent, bookkeeper, marketer, web designer, social media manager, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Today I hope to make that a little easier of a burden to bear, with 5 beginner tips for becoming a writer.

When becoming a writer, we hardly expect to be millionaires. Well, maybe we do, but only because we don’t know how impossibly hard it is to reach that status yet. Once we do, we accept that we’re here for the love of the craft, for the need to create. Money is the bonus that comes at the end of hard work and persistence, but certainly not the driving force. That said, you should treat your writing as a serious business. It involves time management, connections and correspondence, a budget, and marketing efforts. At the beginning of your writing career, you are writer, agent, bookkeeper, marketer, web designer, social media manager, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Today I hope to make that a little easier of a burden to bear, with 5 beginner tips for becoming a writer.

TIP #1  Setting A Budget 

This year I entered short story competitions and I shall be doing so again. It’s a good way of getting your work out there and by writing to different guidelines, it expands your writing experience too. But entering these competitions can be costly so in order to do that I don’t go crazy with my hard earned cash, I set myself an annual budget and I stick to it. Not all competitions cost money, many are free to enter so I suggest checking websites by putting in Free Writing Competitions or something similar. So that is my tip #1, set a budget that you are comfortable with and that way you stay in control.

TIP#2  Maintain A To-do List

We all live busy lives and without my to-do list I would be running around in a panic. It is invaluable for my writing. Each evening I write my list for the next day such as, emails I must send/reply to, stories to send out, fill in my worksheet, phone calls to make/return etc. If I have not ticked off all on that day’s list I carry them over to the next day. If I have not completed a task and it has been carried over for two/three days then I make it a priority to be dealt with first on the list. The satisfaction of ticking off chores is delightful and it gives a sense of achievement at the end of the day. Of course to-do lists are not for writing only; it is a very useful habit to have to keep check of daily life in general.

TIP#3  Keep A Writing Record  

I would be lost without Excel. On it I have entered the title of my stories, where I have sent them, Accepted/Rejected, Competition/Magazine, Payment/prize etc. So at a glance I know where each story is. There are many different programmes you can use, find the one you feel comfortable working with. If you find it difficult you can always use a large A4 book and using a double page spread, mark it in to different columns and title each column, then fill in the details beneath. It is another useful tool in keeping me organised and one that I would encourage any writer to have. Of course it works for submitting to agents or publishers, poetry, songs and plays also.

TIP#4  Always Say Thank You

In a fast changing world many of life’s little things can get lost. Saying thank you can be one of those basic little things. In connection to writing, I believe saying thanks is important. When I receive an email whether it is bringing rejection of my story/novel or telling me my story/novel is accepted, I like to reply with a thank you. By saying thank you, I am acknowledging the time and response that was given to me. I make a connection by doing this and if you are a nice person to deal with, you will be remembered. After all part of being a writer is building relationships and making connections. So whether it is a nay or yay, a thank you can go along way and it costs nothing to be nice.

TIP#5  Reward Yourself

Right, you have worked hard all week. You have been writing furiously, finishing that story/letter/poem and you have watched your competition budget and also entered any work that has gone out/returned into your records. You even remembered to say thank you. It is now reward time. You are entitled to a treat, some new lipstick/ magazine/CD/DVD or a cupcake or two, even time out to read or walk, meet a friend for coffee and a chat. It doesn’t have to cost money; it only needs to make you feel good for all your hard work. There must be enjoyment too from your writing apart from getting acceptances which is the best reward of all. So, little treats now and then encourage us to carry on through the tough times.

So there you have my 5 beginner tips for becoming a writer. As you can see, writing is filled with its own unique highs and lows, but with a little management, you’ll soon have a portfolio of work you can call your own! Happy writing lovelies, and feel free to ask about any and all things writing. As a published author, I understand the stumbling blocks more than most!