Libraries are like lollie shops

I love libraries. And bookshops. They’re my haven, a place I go to when in need of some quite time, inspiration, or escape. Whenever I go to the library I can’t leave without taking at least three new books home with me. If I’m not reading at least two books at once I begin to worry, and if I don’t have a few books in reserve panic sets in.

Even if I’m just dropping off a book, I feel compelled to do a quick drive by the shelves of my favourite authors. Equally, I can’t walk past a bookshop without ducking in and  checking out the new best sellers. The pop up stores in shopping malls are not safe either, especially after I found the latest book from one of my favourite authors, Simon Toyne, tucked away on a display table in a newsagent. The price? $1.99!  I was in book heaven.

And I love nothing better than a good book and sugary sweet tart or bun with a cup of tea. In fact, I’ve been secretly addicted to sugar for many years, a habit I’ve found hard to break.  But when I read that sugar isn’t good for us and even worse, it could be linked to Alzheimer’s, I knew I had to stop. A terrifying thought – both about getting Alzheimer’s and having to give up sugar. As a compromise, I cut down on my favourite Mars bars and biscuits and stay away from the lollie and sweets aisle in the supermarket.

Parting with sugar has been hard but harder still was filling the gap in my emotional life. But fill it I did. By increasing the number of books I got out of the library and the number of times I charged into bookshops to get a fix. What a wonderful feeling, that rush of pleasure, in being surround by books just waiting to be opened and consumed. Just like being in a lollie shop.

Then I had another terrifying thought. What if I was frying my brain with too much reading? Could this really happen? Filling it with entertaining, well written fiction that provides a few hours of escapism but doesn’t really add to my intellectual grunt?

I frantically searched my memory for times when I might have put myself at risk. Then I remembered. The library of Trinity College in Dublin. I went there to see the Book of Kells and my, what an experience. The sheer scale and size of the library, the overwhelming number of old, ancient and august tomes it housed. The towering rows of volume upon volume of some of the greatest books every written by mankind just waiting to be climbed. I stood there in awe, stupefied by the magnificence around me. The feeling was one of pure joy, a profound pleasure that left me in a sugar-like coma for days.

Seriously worried, I felt I had to make some major life changes. Like not going to the library so often, cutting back to one visit a week (not counting dropping off books). Only reading two books a week instead of three. Changing my diet from all fiction to include some edifying, brain-nourishing matter from the non-fiction shelves. All of this was tough but walking past a bookshop without going in proved the hardest thing to do.

Then I read somewhere that if you’re a wannabe author like myself that reading often and widely is the best thing I could, and should, do. It’s called research. Imagine my relief at finding out that what I was doing was not bad for me but something I should, in fact, be doing, and doing more of! That obsessing about what book to read next is OK and making a detour to visit that new bookshop up the road has a legitimate purpose.

Now I can go back to guilt-free reading, safe in the knowledge that what I’m doing is not harmful to my body or brain, comforted by the thought that greater minds than mine know what they’re on about and there’s no such thing as too much research.

I hope this missive has helped other conflicted book addicts but I’ve got to go now. The library’s about to open.


Why is it so?

Why is it so Image Only

This is a phrase I heard often when I was growing up courtesy of Professor Julius Sumner Miller, an American physicist and television personality. Whilst teaching at the University of Sydney he hosted a science based TV show called ‘Why is it so?’ which I watched after school every week.

His shows were a hit because of his “cool experiments, interesting science, and fantastic hair”. You could say his show and teaching style was an earlier version of ‘Myth Busters’.

I was thinking about the good professor recently as I was working on the outline of a new book. ‘Why is it so’ was the question that popped into my head as I struggled to come up with a strong motivation for the main protagonist. Without it I can’t move forward with developing the story arc. So for the moment I’m stuck.

This is a fundamental question that all writers have to answer – the impetus, if you will, that drives the story forward to some form of conclusion. It’s such an important part of the process that there are even online motivation generators for writers who need a few ideas. With the a click of the mouse you’re presented with random motivations. How simple is that! For example:

  • Your character wants to clear their name.
  • Your character’s greatest desire is to protect their business.
  • Your character is trying to reunite with a major protagonist

There are even sites that focus just on the heroine or the villain. Just Google ‘character motivation generator’ to get a few ideas.

I also found this blog, The Psychology of Character by Fiction Editor Beth Hill from The Editor’s Blog, which covers the subject of motivation really well, with advice like the following:

“Knowledge of character motivation—knowledge of who the character is and why he is that way—helps the writer add layers and depth, veracity and cohesion, to story. It gives truth to fiction.”


To read more about Beth’s views on creating great characters, here is a link to The Editor’s Blog.



A Meaningful Children’s book–finally published. 

A great story of one writer’s journey to write a children’s book inspired by personal circumstances and linked to supporting a worthy cause.

McKinley's Milestones

Dear bloggers and faithful followers! My book has finally been published! It’s been a long and slow two years. BUT with my newest publication Going Through A Maze I thought It would be a good idea to venture down memory lane–Why I wrote the book and how it came to be.

For those who havn’t followed me in the process– I wrote this children’s book during a difficult time, while I was caring for my sick father.
This book is based on the love and friendship built between a grandfather and granddaughter. It depicts the reality of a family member or friend struggling with cancer in a simplistic way that is appropriate for young and older audiences. The story ultimately is meant to help prompt difficult conversations with children relating to cancer or any serious illness.

Here are a few past blog posts I wrote from the time my dad…

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