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Tell Your Own Story

Living the Dream of Being Published by Mary Crowley

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Article by Mary Crowley ©.
Posted in the Magazine (Tell Your Own Story: , ).
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My dream has always been to one day hold my published novel in my hand, so when that day finally came it was every bit as thrilling as I’d expected, however nothing prepared me for how delighted I’d feel receiving reviews and messages from readers to say how much they have enjoyed the story.  I am talking about my debut novel, recently published independently on Amazon called A Sweet Smell of Strawberries. A women’s fiction novel set in the North West of Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way.

It was a yearly trip to Co. Donegal, where one of my sons’ competes in the three-day Errigal International Youth Tour which inspired the setting.  It would be hard not to fall in love with some of the quaint towns along the stunning coastline depicting old Ireland in its finest beauty, making it a fitting place for this modern Irish tale. I was keen to write a novel with a storyline that could be related to, interlinking subplots with dilemmas’ of the modern world we live in.  A strong influence on my style of writing coming from  literary heroine Maeve Binchy, having been introduced at a young age to Maeve’s books when Echoes was filmed in my hometown of Tramore back in the late 80’s.  I love to write, to create a story motivated by an idea which has come to mind, fingertips floating across the keyboard creating a scene bringing characters to life.

The inspiration for A Sweet Smell of Strawberries came from hearing a devastating news report about two teenagers killed by a motorist high on a cocktail of drink and drugs driving home in the early hours from an all-night party.  As a mother it sat heavy in my heart for days being a subject close to home, as when I was seventeen one of my friends was killed by a drunk driver whilst walking home.  Before I knew it Sarah Connolly my main protagonist materialised, her story calling out to be told about the loss of her son Jack, who was sixteen years old when he was killed. A talented athlete destined to represent Ireland in the Olympics, his death devastated the small close knit community of Kilmer Cove and left Sarah heartbroken.

The story is picked up five years after the tragedy when Desmond Shanahan, the man who killed him is released early from prison on parole. This news further crushes Sarah, whereupon she removes her mask of pretence revealing five years of pent-up angst and pain. For Desmond, the harsh reality of life outside the safe walls of prison becomes a series of cold shoulders, learning the depth of despair his family has had to live with after being shunned by everyone, apart from one source close to Sarah.

Evelyn Priestly is Desmond’s ex-fiancée and is thrown into turmoil when she hears of his release, as she is hiding a secret which will upset the life she has now carved out with her new boyfriend and their son. For her, Desmond’s return could mean the revelation of a dark secret over the events which lead to Jack Connolly’s death.

Each of them travel along a rocky path strewn with problems which threaten them from reaching their final goal.  Sarah must learn to focus on celebrating her son’s life rather fighting for justice over the cause of Jack’s death. Desmond must face up to the effect the tragedy has had on his family and learn to accept his own flaws, whilst Evelyn must face her demon’s, leave her violent boyfriend and find the courage, to tell the truth about what really happened on that cold October morning.

It would have been easy to portray each of them in a certain light, but I wanted both Sarah and Desmond to have flaws, strengths and weaknesses giving their characters a realistic stance in the reader’s eyes. I enjoyed writing this story, putting my heart and soul into developing the main plot while entwining subplots for enticement. Evelyn’s personal circumstances were alien to me, as it was a subject I had no personal experience of, yet embraced the challenge.  Credit goes to the fabulous writing group I attended every Saturday in Waterford hosted by Anna Jordan, her encouragement giving me the confidence to push myself beyond boundaries. With each re-draft my story knitted tighter together and the excitement of how well it was developing grew.  I had worked for years on a previous manuscript which I could not get right and in the end decided to let it go.

Taking time away from novel writing to concentrate on other projects until I found the right story had been a sensible move, whereby  learning more about the craft by attending workshops, one of which was hosted by Vanessa O’Loughlin where I gained knowledge on getting published. I also studied online creative writing courses and journalism, wrote short stories, some of which got published. Then the highlight came when I won the WLR Waterford Writer’s Weekend short story competition in 2016 with my entry The Three Sister’s.

The decision to independently publish with Amazon came after a guest speaker attended one of the Saturday writing classes, having independently published herself, she explained the process. Thereafter, I spent weeks reading up on the pros and cons referring to my personal bible, The Writers and Artists Handbook, along with advice posted in writing.ie a resource we are very fortunate to have. Once the decision was made to independently publish, in a moment of pure madness and trepidation everything changed as I pressed send and within a couple of weeks I was holding my book, the dream was real.

A Sweet Smell of Strawberries is currently available in both kindle and paperback versions through Amazon, I will also be launching the paperback version in The Book Centre in Waterford on 28th September due to the positive response A Sweet Smell of Strawberries has already received. For further information please visit my website https://marycrowleyauthor.wordpress.com

(c) Mary Crowley

About The Sweet Smell of Strawberries:

Imagine, a warm summer’s morning with the Sweet Smell of Strawberries wafting through the air, tantalising your senses. For Sarah Connolly, this invokes beautiful memories of her son Jack. A talented athlete destined to represent Ireland in the Olympics and loved by everyone who knew him. While out training early one morning, the sixteen-year-old was killed when Desmond Shanahan lost control of his car. Jack’s death devasted Sarah, as her only child, he was the very essence of her life.

Order your copy online here.

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Mary Crowley lives in County Waterford, on the South East Coast of Ireland, with her husband and three children. Having worked for many years as a qualified dental nurse, and dental health educator whilst bringing up her family. She is now concentrating on her love of writing. Author of the recently published Novel “A Sweet Smell of Strawberries” and Winner of the Waterford Writer’s Weekend short story competition in 2016 with her entry “The Three Sisters”. She has also had stories published in Writing.ie, one of which was inspired by her literary heroine Maeve Binchy. Several short fiction pieces published in Flash Fiction Magazine, along with articles in Woman’s Way and the Irish Times. Having studied courses in creative writing and journalism, she is currently working on several writing projects along with doing freelance writing. Attending a local Writing Group enjoying the interaction with like-minded writers and lovers of all things books. When she is not writing, she loves spending time with her husband John and their three children Damon, Steven and Katie, though they are growing up too quickly. Her most favoured way of family time is travelling to new and interesting places in her beloved VW Camper.
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