Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Shanster

If you read my blog post yesterday, you would have read that I sent an email to Darren Shan regarding my joblessness and the woes around it. Well, he's taken the liberty of posting my email on his blog, with his response, my response, and then some additional made-of-awesome comments to go along with it.

As a direct result of this blog post, I am jumping off the walls with excitement, and I can barely contain myself long enough to type this post. Just thinking about it gets me ecstatic all over again.

I encourage you to go read the post, here. It's really awesome.

In other news, that isn't related to Darren Shan, I got most of my essay done for my Justice and Peace module. I had thought I was finished, until I discovered that the word count was meant to be two hundred words higher than what I'd written. Personally, I blame the lack of a posted word count in the email the lecturer sent us... but don't tell his son I said that. (I'm just complaining for the sake of it, of course; I'm sure I can find something to write about, with regard to a message of justice in the book of Amos in the Old Testament).

Also managed to buy some paper. It's been a while... and we were running out. I think my dad is repaying me... if not, he's not allowed use the paper. I'm unemployed, and I demand to have full use of what I pay for. (Now I'm being bitter for the sake of it...)

With said paper, I printed out a good few more pages of Meet Sam to be edited as soon as this darned essay is done. And my tutorial work is finished... And when I can successfully begin my coursework journal for my Fiction to Film module... which all requires an essay. Bugger. Well, I will edit, I promise. I have more time at the weekends than I used to, so I will. I will. Stop looking at me like that, I WILL!

*ahem* I was talking to you, reader. There's no one in my head who ought not be. Fictional characters, yes, but they ought to be there.

I sound crazy...

Back to Shan related news, there's only two full months between me and The Thin Executioner. I know what you're thinking - "Paul, you just lost your job! Should you really be thinking about buying more books?" The short answer, yes. The slightly longer answer, Yes, I need them. The unnecessarily long answer...

Books keep me at the stable balance between normality and insane asylum. Without access to literature, my mind melts into a state of not being able to function properly, which then needs to be treated with several intense doses of reading before I can write again. By several, I mean about a dozen. By intense, I mean four hours at a go. Otherwise the process takes much longer, and while I can write, I can't write anything that's worth reading. Even with editing. This is partially why I'm editing now, and not working on something new. I haven't had the chance to dive into a book properly since Mr Mumbles, which didn't take very long. I have to whip out a novel of some description tomorrow or my brain will turn to mush. Fact.

And before I go, apparently I don't want to know what Maureen Johnson did before she was a full time author... Gotta love Maureen for her small bouts of revealed insanity.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

First Day

I've never experienced a Saturday off that I wasn't supposed to have off. The closest I got to that was when the English Paper 2 was shown on the wrong day in the Leaving Cert, and we had to sit the backup paper that Saturday. But other than that, I've been in work most Saturdays, or in work the Sunday instead.

Admittedly, I was still a little spooked about not having a job. I ended up on the phone to Sandra, one of my ex-collegues at Hughes and Hughes, and she's just as shaken up about it. And she almost lost her dog, but that's a different story. She hadn't heard anything about the company collapsing like this either. She did know that those present at the time of closing had paperwork to fill out... that'll be a fun thing to do... not!

I watched Glee to cheer myself up. Okay, so I almost cried at one point, but the destruction of teenage life kind of does that to me. Actually, the destruction of any believeable life in fiction does that to me. Not a bother on me in a ridiculously murderous movie like From Paris With Love, where many people get killed... they weren't believeable deaths. But Glee set me off, almost. At least the songs were great!

I emailed Darren Shan as well, to see if he might be able to shed some light on his own experiences with unemployment and writing. He went through practically the same thing, except his jobs weren't funding his writing, and he willingly gave one up. But he gave me some very sound advice and made me realise that I should take advantage of the time I have and do some work. As a result, I wrote a very short story that won't be used...ever... and around 13 Doctor Haik-Who. Okay, exactly thirteen. And I edited the same number of pages of Meet Sam, before I ran out of printed material. It was a load of fun though!

I printed that email too, to make sure I can always look at it and remember that I have something many people lack - time to write. Hughes and Hughes didn't give that to me, Darren Shan did. I might have wasted the day if I hadn't been told that.

Of course, I spent time watching television too. I watched Nanny McPhee with my mum while we had dinner, and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. I've seen the latter before, and I always enjoy it. The former... didn't expect it to be as fantastic as it was! It certainly attributed to the brightening up of my day (which really only felt great after Darren Shan's amazing email!)

Too late to do any work now, but I'll be waking up to an essay on Justice and Peace. 1000 words. It's not too bad, and if I can get it done quickly, then I have time during the week to do other things... like my tutorial work. But I'm going to catch up on everything. I'm promising myself that.

Holy Cow. Ever get one of those "I just realised something" moments? Well, I did... just now. Yes, I voiced my surprise in my blog, sue me. (don't... I'm unemployed and can't afford to pay you). Well, I just realised that the Irish Student Drama Association competition is next week (starting the 8th). Drama is almost over for the year! Ah!

Oh, brightside of yesterday I never got around to, because of the joblessness... well, I went to the cinema, saw the aforementioned From Paris With Love, and Eileen texted to say that we have our tickets to One Republic in April! Good thing I forked out the money for that before I found out about work, or I might have had to change my mind!

Hmm, did I just see the brighter side of life? So much for my misery of yesterday!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bye Bye Job

I'm unemployed, it seems. I had a job three hours ago, and now... well, I found out over the radio that the bookshop I work in, Hughes and Hughes, was closed, due to the fact that it had to go into receivership. We had an idea that the company wouldn't last long, what with less people travelling, and so less sales at the airport, but we never thought it would happen so soon. I literally said to someone at six o'clock last Saturday, "See you next week!"

Unless we all meet up tomorrow, that's not going to happen.

I feel oddly empty knowing I've no work tomorrow. It was different when I took a holiday before, to study for my mocks. I knew why I wasn't in work... I knew I wouldn't be in work... this just came on very sudden. And I had to pass the shop too, on my way to the cinema, which is where I was going when I found out about the dead company. It looked so dark, so lifeless... okay, so the lights were off and it was empty, but that's not what I meant. The soul of the shop was gone.

But even still, now as I type this, I can't claim it's all about me. I don't know most of the people who are now unemployed, but I knew the people in my shop. Two of them are the main income earners in their families. Two are in college. One just moved into a new apartment. One's living with his girlfriend, but he'll need a new job if he's to keep that up. And the last is my boss, whose wife doesn't work... well, not in a company. She's a writer. I think lots of us know how little money that will get them.

I'm going to be stuck thinking about how they're managing. I won't be able to help it. These people are my friends, and now we're all without a job, just suddenly, without direct warning from the company. Unless someone else buys out the place and keeps all the shops running...

My parents are advising me to look for somewhere else. My mum said it doesn't have to be a bookshop. But she doesn't get it. I loved working in a bookshop. It was my thing. If I had to get a new job, I'd love for it to be in another bookshop. Nothing else would feel right.

Nothing else could make me feel happy like Hughes and Hughes did.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Gave You My Music...

I'm a big fan of music; I tend to find new types that I like every year; when I was fifteen, it was rock, sixteen was the soul year, seventeen was when I started getting into R&B and Pop and eighteen was when I discovered DFTBA Records. I believe it was also when I fell in love with Phantom of the Opera... or maybe that was when I was seventeen. Whatever... That's where the title of this blog comes from - "I gave you my music, let your song take wing.." Lovely stuff.

I'm here to talk to you about DFTBA Records, though. I'm currently listening to one of their hit songs, Can't, played in six different ways. It's from their new Can't Remixed CD. Very awesome. It's a great way to discover new sound in DFTBA; I'd never listened to MC Lars, Eddplant, Dr Noise, ALL CAPS or Alan and Paige... or Hank, really. I'd heard a couple of songs from Dr Noise, ALL CAPS and Hank, and Alan, I believe, from another EP, but I hadn't heard much of the sound they were capable of. Well worth the buy.

My first taste of DFTBA was through the Trock (Time Lord Rock) band Chameleon Circuit, with their album of the same name. If I remember correctly, I purchased their Volume 1 Compilation album and Taking Leave from Alan Kastufka and Tom Milsom, next. They are awesome! Chameleon Circuit is filled with songs about Doctor Who, and is actually why I was bothered watching an episode of it. The Volume 1 Compilation got me into a number of different sounds from DFTBA, including Molly Lewis and Tom Milsom's own work.

Somewhere along the line I purchased Alex Day's album Parrot Stories. It's a fantastic collection of love songs, and well worth the listen!

I bit the bullet and bought Trock On! and I Made You A CD But I Eated It (the latter from Molly Lewis) a while later. I didn't like Molly's CD until recently... the problem was that I listened to only two songs on it - I Pity the Fu and Peep Fight; I already knew the former, and I didn't like the latter. But I listened to the whole thing and loved it! Trock On! is an amazing compilation of Trock music. Good for Doctor Who fans!

Most recently I've come into possession of the aforementioned Can't Remixed and Tom Milsom's album Painfully Mainstream. Next in line for purchase is Be Mine from ALL CAPS. I can't wait for that one. And I believe Charlie McDonnell is releasing an album at some undefined stage in the future - can't wait!

I have to say, I love Painfully Mainstream. Especially Indigo, which I understand you can listen to online for free! Just go to and you'll find all the albums and artists I've mentioned here. When you click on an album, you get a chance to preview the album with a sample track. Made up my mind about Tom Milsom's album, to be honest!

And with that, I bid you adieu. It's time for me to get Lost... okay, bad pun. Lost is on in five minutes! I need tea!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

There's Always Tomorrow

I'm having a problem; tomorrow is always there for me to say, "I can do it tomorrow." This gets a lot of stuff put off until a later date, like a project I thought up last night when I couldn't get to sleep, and all of my college work.

I've got a coursework journal to do, on top of two essays, my religion tutorial work (every week for that one...) and I have my own writing to do, as well as maintaining my blog, the Literary Den blog, releasing the Poetry Against Cancer book, and promoting it, and I've got reading and stuff to do... and drama. But that'll last two weeks - the competition will be over by then.

Aside from my "Wrote Today" Chart, what else can I do to keep getting things done? I mean, there's so much to do, so little time, and I can feel my exams creeping closer! Ah!

And yet... here I am on Facebook, playing Cafe World, and watching television. Call me crazy... Actually, that's about it - call me crazy. It might help.

When I find myself able to control the madness in my life, I'll let you know. It might be June by then, but hey, I'll have control....

Monday, February 22, 2010


I'm probably the first person who'll admit that there's something a little weird about me. I write - a lot of writers I know are at least a little crazy. I think it's something to do with characters disagreeing with our plots... in our heads. Crazy! I also Vlog, though, which is weird in itself if you're not used to it, like my brothers.

Then there's my ability to become obsessed with things very easily. At the moment, my obsession has led to the fourth playing of Tom Milsom's album Painfully Mainstream today alone, and a total of 73 Doctor Haik-Who so far. That's two obsessions at once... I'm learning. Normally my attention is focused entirely on one thing in such a horrendously... okay, obsessive is the only word coming to mind. Horrendously obsessive. That's me.

Okay, so I'll admit my Doctor Haik-Who are at least productive. I'll be writing a letter for one of the potential agents soon. And of course, I still have to write them. Can't stop that. (By the way, my new video is directly related to the Doctor Haik-Who!)

I do find that my obsession gets work done, though. Not just the Doctor Haik-Who, but all my other writing. I get thoughts going through my head about The Jump and Riders of Nebwey all the time, and occasionally The Hero of Edge. It's fun, actually. Bizarre, voices-in-my-head fun, but fun nonetheless.

And I've my "Wrote Today" Chart too, now. That's a positive step towards increased productivity, I reckon. Go chart!

Speaking of that chart... I think I need to update it. This blog will only consume more time that I don't have if I keep writing tonight. I've got to check stuff for college... secretly, so my parents don't know that I haven't done the work yet. *whistles nonchalantly*

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In Preparation

As we go through each of the days of our lives, we are often left to prepare ourselves, or others, for things to come. Mostly, this can be fairly bad things. But in the world of writing, there's whole lot of preparation towards greater things, like a book getting published, or an author just steeling himself for the days when the copyright of his work might be brought into question.

I decided, in the preparation of getting in touch with agents and other individuals, that I'd begin the copyrighting process for my Doctor Haik-Who, by writing them down, and posting them to myself. This is a very common technique of ensuring the authorship of your work isn't called into question, particularly if you like to share your work with a number of individuals you've never met.

I've already done with eleven of them, though the remaining forty nine written will need the same process soon, so I might be writing them up sooner rather than later. This doesn't count towards my "Wrote Today" Chart, of course, but it's a necessary step in ensuring the safety of my work. If I can get them all done within the next couple of hours, then I'll be sorted - I have dinner plans tonight, my birthday celebrations extending somewhat now that my parents are back from the West.

This is also a good time for me in preparation for the broadcasting of a few Doctor Haik-Who online, via YouTube. This will be happening sometime in the very close future, so I need to make sure I have the Haiku protected. While I'm broadcasting, I'll also be asking for topic suggestions for more Doctor Haik-Who; I may have already touched on the topic, but at least then I know I've covered some of the big areas of the show. There's also the episodes people forget about that need writing about, like the Gelth in the third episode. They were the villain, but Charles Dickens was the focus of the episode, and Rose's inability to keep her mouth shut. It's an important lesson for her as she continues her time travelling journey with the Doctor.

I've also discovered my strange fascination with the Face of Boe... I wrote at least three Haiku about him. I'm weird...

Anyway, about those agents... I scoured The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook 2010 for suitable agencies... I got a total of two suitable people. I'll be getting in touch with them soon to see if I might be able to submit. *fingers crossed*

That's it from me, I suppose. I don't want to steal from writing up the Haiku time, so I'd better let you go. (oh, and I'm not the only one preparing for something today... but I won't say who it is that I'm talking about.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Poetry Night, Party Night, Writing Night

It's been a few days since I'm been to this blog... Bad Paul! Anyway, I have three days to tell you about, so I better try make this brief...

Thursday - Poetry Night at the Gutter Bookshop. In case you don't already know, the Gutter Bookshop is a lovely Indie bookshop on Cow's Lane in Temple Bar in Dublin. Not huge, but the right size. Bob, Anne and Sinead are all lovely there, and the Poetry Night was no exception for this loveliness (they didn't even mind that I took up more space than I should have, due to Doctor Who figurines and a Blue Ukulele...).

The night was designed to be a forum for expression of poetry in whatever verbal way the poet chose. There was some wonderful poetry written and read for the night, including some slam poetry from an American girl, and the recitation of Kevin and the Black Birds by another guy, Irish (I saw him recite that same poem in October 2008!) Sophie even got up to recite, and Bob was very kind to her when she was nervous. Go Bob!

Overall, a brilliant night, and I'm delighted to see that they've slotted another one in for next month too! Yahoo! I'll see you there, I hope!

Party Night - that was last night, as Niamh's. It was choir party. We got there at eight-ish, and I got to bed at two. It was a night of singing and talking and laughing, and the odd three-time discovery that I'm a twin (that's three times someone - one person - said, "Oh my God you have a twin!" I got the picture...)

It was fun to meet new people there too. Shane, Niamh's drummer/bongo player, brough two of his friends, and Sorcha brought her boyfriend, who incidenally looks like Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor, only with a less weird head... This revelation resulted in much quoting from Doctor Who. Only Sorcha and I got the references!

Writing Night - welcome aboard! This is my big writing night of the week. I have forty minutes to go until Heroes, and I plan on exploiting every last second of it for writing. I've already written a blog post for the Literary Den blog that's around eight hundred words, and a few Doctor Haik-Who! I'll have a video about those on YouTube soon. Yay!

Anyway, this blog post is contributing to my "Wrote Today" Chart that I'm keeping for Lent. So far I'm written a minimum of six hundred words a day. With college work mounting up, this can only get better. See, I'm counting all writing towards it, because any writing is good writing. As for the Drama... well, that's going to eat some valuable time, but it'll be over soon too. *insert sad face here*

While I have you here about the Doctor Haik-Who - I'm emailed the BBC twice about it now, without response. I'll be going for number three next week, unless someone can get me a mailing address to get in touch with the lovely people there... I really want to know if I can publish my Doctor Haik-Who as a book! I might even contact them directly about it, to see if they'll do it! *tempted*

Here's one I wrote earlier, under the subject of Last Words

His very last words
Were reserved for the Doctor:
"You are not alone."

And with that, dear reader, I bid you adieu. I've got some fiction to write on Write Or Die, and a "Wrote Today" Chart to update, with half an hour to go, now. Toodle pip!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Just in Case

I figured that tomorrow I might not be able to blog about everything that will happen. So, in short, the things I plan on doing, that better happen...

Number 1 - Tea/Coffee/Hot chocolate with Sophie. We're finally taking advantage of our time off and doing something during the day. Some quality time together, after her short day in college, is much needed. I imagine this will be fantastically fun.

Number 2 - The Blue Ukulele. I intend on buying it. If you follow my tweets, you know I've been talking about this for a while. See, I'd always been sort of interested in the Uke as an instrument (I'm even using Ukulele player language!), and a customer came into my shop a couple of weekends ago and was buying a book on how to play the Ukulele. It kind of set off my need to learn an instrument, so I figure something like this won't seem as challenging as a keyboard, because I can't immediately see at least 56 white keys on it. Four strings = less daunting. And the blue one I saw online is only €20! If Waltons have it in stock, I'll have a Ukulele!

Number 3 - Poetry Night at The Gutter Bookshop! Sophie and I, as you know, put together the Poetry Against Cancer book. I emailed Bob at the Gutter Bookshop about it, and I'll be talking to him in person tomorrow about it too if it's at all possible. While I'm there, I'll also be able to listen to some awesome poetry, possibly read some if I'm feeling up for it, and generally have a good time. Yay Poetry Night!

Number 4 - Choir. This happens every Thursday, so there shouldn't be much of a shock here. I'll have The Blue Ukulele with me, if I can get it, because I'll be going straight there from town, with Sophie. It's going to be awesome! I can imagine some hyperactivity over the tiny instrument (it's not the size that counts, it's how badly I'll be able to play it =P). That should be fun!

Those were all in chronological order. As for the next thing I plan on doing, writing... that'll actually happen earlier in the day. In the morning, actually. I need to keep writing, every day, and fill in the "Wrote Today" Chart as I go along, because it's finally Lent! I'll also have to do some reading of The Jump, Skulduggery Pleasant, and make a start on my coursework journal for college, which will involve some watching of movies, and some transcribing of notes I made during the watching of Beau Travail, the adaptation of Billy Budd. Busy morning... I better wake up at 8 to do this, as I have to have dinner at 2 and be ready to get into town not long afterwards.

In other news, Rachel is putting thought into the cover for Poetry Against Cancer. I can't wait to see it! I know already that it's going to be awesome. It's Rachel, it has to be. Also, Ms Dunne and I are emailing again. I make her laugh, it seems. My confusion over things like an MS Readathon and the mention of a stun gun certainly were funny, I'll admit. Especially the stun gun... It's proverbial, I might add. Teachers aren't allowed to carry weapons.

While my fingers are in type mode, I might try make a start at one of the spin-offs for The Jump. Or if I get an idea for a poem, write one. Actually, I better get some poems ready for the Poetry Night first. Oh it's going to be so exciting! I'll write a blog about that tomorrow. Hopefully I'll have the courage to read!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another Year Older

I'm now nineteen years, twenty three hours and forty five minutes old, aproximately. At least as I wrote that sentence. What a bizarrely accurate person I am...

I meant to blog on V-Day, but I couldn't have been arsed explaining why I don't like the idea of a day to celebrate love. Why only one day? Why do people think Hallmark needs more money? If you want to show someone you care, don't just wait for February 14. Okay, end micro rant.

I turned nineteen yesterday. Normally I look upon my birthdays with disdain. I'm supposed to be like Peter Pan, not growing older. Andy Walker suggested I couldn't quite get the green tights to work... he's right. The closest I ever got to green tights were purple leggings for drama. And they weren't comfortable. No wonder I'm nineteen.

The day was... well, the day was mostly boring, but the night was fun. I'll start with the boring day, which does have some interesting, and therefore redeeming, points in it. Started like every other day that I'm not in college or work - I awoke earlier than I planned to. I knew it was my birthday, and I was so tempted to stay in bed for another hour.. or three, even though it was eight in the morning. Or maybe that was just when I got out of bed. I might have had that neccessary lie in afterall.

Parents room; it's the first place we have to go to together (Conor and I... being twins and all that jazz). I had my breakfast beforehand. Crunchie Nut Cornflakes if you must know. Boring. Then we got our presents. The grand list of gifts will be posted later, so I won't bore you with the details now. I'll just move swiftly onwards, with the mention of only one present - Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale, from Conor.

I read the first chapter in its entirity yesterday. Finished the second a few minutes ago. But the first one... that did something to me. It's started this Life Affirming Transformation within me that I can't ignore. It's taught me to look at ideas differently. See, I write Sci-Fi best, so long as it's Heroes type Sci-Fi, and not Star Trek Sci-Fi. I don't write outer space, or even alien worlds. I write people, and I write them with abilities.

Back in November, I did NaNoWriMo. I had a wonderful scene of silence and flashing lights and a deep emotional outburst by my protagonist. It was amazing. I know that myself. Visually, in my head, imagining this scene, it was heaven. The book around it, though, is classified Epic Fail.

But the scene... Russell T Davies, in his discussion of a character that never existed, taught me a lesson about Context. My ideas can be recycled into something I like, something useful, something Sci-Fi, if I really want them to. That scene with the silence has brought about a character. I might change the sex. I might change the sexual orientation, just to try something different. (Yes, this means a gay character). But it's not a person who slots easily into The Jump. Not in the cycle of books already floating around in my head. It's a standalone novel, based on The Jump. It's actually the second idea of its kind for The Jump, after a few minutes on... I think it was Wednesday.. or Thursday... sometime last week anyway... where was I? Yeah, after a few minutes of planning, thinking, plotting, I came up with a Heroine for her own novel.

While reading chapter two of the book today, I might add, I got an idea for a third book of this kind. A darker book. Much darker. It's not a lovely dovy one like the first, or a Holy Cow What the Hell is Happening I'm Weird Enough story, like the second. This is more of a What the Hell Did I Do Why Do I Care and What Can I Do to Make Things Easier on Myself kind of story. Yeah, all of that. And it won't even be written in the normal style. I'm thinking letters. Letters. Fantastically strange to write, because the reader will never know the fate of the character, despite the first person nature of the book. It's going to be Deep Psychological Shizz. (I say Shizz, because I don't like swearing).

Anyway, back to the birthday. See, we spent the rest of the day getting ready for the night. We had a party, you see. We had loads of friends over, lots of food, and we still ordered six large pizzas. There was music playing and people talking, lots of laughing, some crazy dancing, lots of photographs being taken, and some pretty wicked gifts that I wasn't expecting anyone to have to get. And four gatecrashers, who I'd felt guilty about not inviting.

In the end, I had a sugar crash, and I was surprised to wake up in time to see my parents leave for the West... at lunch time. Yeah, I really thought I'd sleep that long.

Now, the presents. I'm going to make a list. It's been a while since I did that.
  • Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale - Book
  • Heroes Season 3 - DVD Box Set
  • Fringe Season 1 - DVD Box Set
  • Doctor Who: The Complete Specials - DVD Box Set
  • Al Pacino DVD Box Set
  • Up - DVD
  • How Not to Write a Novel - Book
  • Jordan: Pushed to the Limits - Book (I kid you not!!)
  • The Secret History - Book
  • A Lynx set
  • Doctor Who figurines - The Doctor, Damaged Dalek Thal, Human-Dalek Sek, Pig Guard (from Daleks in Manhatten)
  • A t-shirt with "Happy 19th Birthday Paul" written on it
  • Another t-shirt, the kind not written on with t-shirt marker
  • Two pairs of funky socks
  • Three bottles of varying drinks, non-alcoholic
  • A bag of sweets (candy, for American readers)
  • A lolli-pop
  • A bag of cookies that cannot be eaten... physically cannot be eaten
  • A box of Cadbury Heroes
  • An Eason giftcard
  • A HMV giftcard
  • Various amounts of money from friends and relatives
  • Love

That last one is my favourite. Everyone gave that. Even people on Twitter who "don't really know me." It made my day.

So, there you go. That blog took half an hour to write. That's longer than I intended to spend writing it. I hope you're happy... (Nah, I don't mind. Really, I love it)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

An Experience with Age

I've just watched Benjamin Button; you know, the movie staring Brad Pitt based on the short story by F Scott Fitzgerald? It's got me thinking, especially since I'm turning nineteen on Monday, and my friend Lisa brought up a feeling of "insignificance" regarding her own life, friends are leaving college and I'm releasing a book of poetry in a few weeks... what exactly will life have in store for me?

I don't normally even pretend to be philosophical, but come on... this is a matter of life and... well, a life less interesting! I could spend the rest of life writing away at this blog, releasing books of poetry and writing away, or I could do it with a family. But.. which one? I've never had a girlfriend, so it looks like the former for now, but seriously - when does one normally begin to realise the utter loneliness of one's life? Surely not before their birthday, and surely not before the most commercial day of the year?

Soon-to-be-nineteen year olds with a perfect bill of health should not have to consider the most complicated aspects of their lives, or indeed the simplest, depending on how you look at it. You know, when people say you "just know" when you meet "the One." I've met the One, but it wasn't any way romantic for me, because the person I refer to as "the One" is the person who keeps me sane, not the person I'm madly in love with. So what do I do?

I don't think I've ever felt so lost about my single status until right now. I thought I was entirely happy being the way I am, not having to worry about a whole other complicated relationship in my life. They don't always work for me, so why am I looking for one?

Is this what aging is? I've only ever grown up once in my lifetime, and it's still happening. I don't know how it feels. I need the guidance of someone older than me, someone with more experience, but I can't say it to my parents - they're not approachable in that sense, even if my mother thinks she is. She'd make suggestions about the identity of the girls in my life, not find me my answers.

Do writers really need someone there for them, or is that just me?

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Generation

Before we begin, I'd like you to go to this video: It's The Zimmers singing My Generation, originally by The Who. Are you playing it? Good, let's begin.

In a conversation with my mother, it came up that the word "blog" is completely alien to her, despite the fact that I've explained it to her before. In an earlier conversation with her, she said that my grandad thought our local cinema had four screens. This has gotten me thinking - my generation in this family is obsessed with technology, mainly because there's so much of it available.

Many of my readers are actually in my mother's generation, or at least ten years older than me, because that seems to be the average age of Twitter users, who are directed to blog post here. All of my readers know what the word "blog" means, at least in some vague sense. Many of them are bloggers themselves.

Most people know that cinemas usually have more than 4 screens. At least in Dublin they do. My local has 11 screens. When my grandad was young, and when my parents were growing up, 4 screens might have been the norm.

See now what I mean by there being so much technology about? With a new iPod every year, and now the iPad, and a number of Sony and Microsoft equivilants, my generation are in heated discussion. The smaller percentage of my mum's generation are also discussing these latest changes, while my grandad's generation have a limited number of individuals who actually understand the concept of an iPod. Each generation is different in their regard to technology, and indeed literature, movies, society and sport. I don't have the time to talk about each of these areas all at the same time, so I'll focus only on the Internet section of Technology.

Split my generation into 11-15, 16-18 and 19+ and you see a pattern of social networking emerging. The 11-15 year olds love Bebo. It's the only site that lets 12 year olds onto it, so naturally 11 year olds break the rules a bit and sneak on. 16-18 year olds get a bit sick of them and move away from Bebo to either MySpace or Facebook. MySpace is now reserved largely for music fans and fans of authors who don't see that MySpace isn't the way to go. Facebook is the "in site", largely due to the addicting games that are played while the person is "studying."

Then there's my mum's generation. While Bebo was fresh, people of her age went onto it. Now they've all migrated to Facebook because it looks a lot more sophisticated, and children can't get onto their pages. New authors see the importance of Facebook as a place where they can say something and see all the responses from fans about that particular post.

My grandad's generation... I don't see many of them on these sites, period.

All three generations are found on Twitter, possibly because it's new and shiny. It's handy, though, because it's similar to Facebook, but easier to use, and there are no distracting games. It's also a handy way for authors to chat to each other, and to their fans. Largely people older than myself are members, but I have seen a few people who are 14/15 on it.

Moving away from social networking onto something a little simpler - email. My mum set up an email account last year. Actually, I set it up for her because she didn't know how. I've never actually met someone her age online who had an email address for personal use only. Normally they run some form of website, or are members of other sites that require email addresses.

All the emails I receive are usually broken up differenly, according to age and use. Business emails and newsletters are all very formal and usually long, though that's content dependant. Emails from people of the elderly persuasion are longer and more formal, while emails from people my age sometimes don't even have a way of addressing the person. The email starts in the body, and ends with more body.

Now, I'm not saying that my generation are great at technology. We're not. Well, some of us are, but others of us are frankly so bad I don't know how they managed to set up the Facebook account they waste their life in front of. I know people who, at the age of 16, didn't even have email addresses. Even 18 year olds didn't! They had to be taught how to do it by other members of the class. I had to teach people how to use Word!

My mum on the other hand needs help opening word. She is the typical example of the part of her generation that hasn't changed with the world around her, to accept the Internet and practice using it. Meanwhile, I'm one of the people in my generation who goes all out with the Net; I have a Bebo account, a MySpace account (I don't use either anymore...), a Facebook, a Twitter, three blogs (though I only update this one most days, another once every three weeks, and the third... well, not at all since the summer) and I run a forum/website. Not to mention having about 7 email addresses (personal, Literary Den, college, Poetry Against Cancer, Anonymous Writer Magazine, Survive the Net, and The New Book Club). Most people only have two - personal and college. Some only have one. And a lot of my generation, but not all of us, have at least a Facebook or Bebo. I'm also a vlogger, which you don't get very often. I know there are loads of vloggers out there, but there are a lot more people who only watch videos.

There are a whole bunch of things on the Internet I haven't even gone in to in detail, like gaming websites, YouTube, photo sharing sites, Deviant Art, forums, personal websites and other such things, but I suppose they'll have to wait for another time. Who knows, I might actually revive Survive The Net with all this stuff to talk about. Though it'll be a lot more orderly than this blog...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


As a writer, I long ago learned the ancient art of managing workloads. This comes in handy at college, when I have tutorial work that needs doing and acitates that need drawing up for the same day. So what did I do..? Well, I ate my lunch, drew the acitates, then went straight to the computer room (where I witnessed rule breaking - someone used the printer to print on an acitate... bad idea).

My work for the tutorial was done at lunch with time to practice writing on a white board, and then written up in easier to read hand writing after education class (at which the acitates were complimented - yuss!!). The tutorial work was also highly praised.

As was my board work by fellow students, and all that in a shrot space of time.

Now apply this to your own life - if you have several things that need doing, plan your time well. If it's a short story for a competition, drop something else like a TV show and work on it. Record the show instead and watch it at a later stage. Same for magazine submissions of poetry and fiction (and non-fiction... I always forget to mention that...)

Oh, and apparently I give good advice on writing. For instance, you feel bad about your novel in its first draft - edit it. But leave it first so that it's fresh to you. The editing will improve it! And if you're writing a play/screenplay, have friends read lines at you so you can pick up on poor dialogue that you didn't notice first time around. Simples.

To be honest, I know that's good advice, because it's not original advice. It's the same stuff I read in three books. Follow that advice. It'll make you feel better, and it'll improve your manuscript. (unless you have no ear for dialogue... record ti and play it to a trusted friend as well, that way you have a second opinion, aside from the readers who might struggle with potentially poor dialogue...)

Also, one week to Lent! I have my "Wrote Today" Chart printed, because I set up the wireless printer... I had to print something.

And five days until my birthday... just saying.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Becoming a Teacher

It's finally set in - I'm going to be a teacher. I already have whiteboard markers and we're preparing lessons and learning specific stuff about Baptism and Reconcilliation in an effort to drill this little point of information into the heads of 10-12 year olds in a period of eight minutes.

I've spent the last while doing my drafts for acitates, which are those things teachers put on overhead projectors, and I just need to put it past my little group before I transfer it onto the acitate. Fun stuff. We're covering Symbols of Baptism and the priest's laying of the hands on a child's head in Reconcilliation. We figured there's enough information in there to entertain four minutes of the kids' time each, with time then for a work sheet and correcting.

In other news, I got to hang out with Kevin, James, Deezie and Emma today! Fun fun fun! I haven't seen the latter two in earnest since a couple of weeks before Christmas, so chilling in their place was well worth having to play catch up tonight. Then, as I was going home, I got to talk to my old friend Patrick. Haven't seen him in months! He's dead sound too. Must try keep in touch with him as the times go by.

Now I need to... what... oh yeah, I need to prepare tutorial work. Slight slip of thoughts there. *sigh* I have to give a presentation on the distictiveness of writings in the New Testament, specifically in the Gospels and in the Pauline letters. Pauline, because St Paul, scholars are fairly sure, didn't write all the letters. He may have been dead too soon to write all of them.

Anyway, have to collaborate on that with three others people. I only saw one of them for the first time in about a week today, and I don't talk to the other two. How did I end up in that mess? I can see them trying to make me do all the work. It'd be so typical that people take advantage of that part of me that doesn't want to fail...

I need to cure that paranoia with tea, so I bid you adieu. Until next time, valuable reader, I wish you luck.

Monday, February 8, 2010

That Thing Called Lent

So, Lent's coming up - Wednesday 17th. I finally decided what to do (because giving something up is too easy, unless you're doing a 24 hour fast - das iz hard, yah).

So, what am I doing? Inspired by a hashtag on Twitter, I'm keeping a Wrote Today Chart, and an Edited Today Chart, all the way through Lent. The idea is simple - write down what you wrote in the day (and what you edited), with the intent to put something on the chart every day, and maybe even beat what you wrote the day before (without jepardising your job, studies or friendships - though don't let them get in the way of the chart).

If people like the idea, I'm going to design a chart to print off. It'll be in colour so that it looks somewhat important on your wall. That way you don't just look at it and think, "It's just a piece of paper).

Leave a comment in the blog or DM me on Twitter - leave contact details (i.e. an email address). Preferrably the Twitter DM, because then your email doesn't have to go public, ya know? ^_^

Peace, Love and Potter,

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The New Book Club

The Sooper Sekrit Project is finally public! Introducing The New Book Club on YouTube: your chance to be part of a group that will read a book a month for... well, I suppose until it stops.

Rather than embed a video and make this easy on myself, I'm going to talk you through the whole thing. *ahem* It all began a month ago, when I decided: "Hey! I want to get more people reading." So I went about trying to find a double's partner for this thing. I failed. Kristina Horner has too much going on, understandably with her own channel, her band, her blog, her school stuff and her job. Yeah... Then Barry Hutchison didn't have time, because his book just came out and he's already doing a thing for HarperCollins. A guy in a bookshop in New York can't do it, because he doesn't have time. I don't know many other details. And Sorcha can't do it because... well, she never said, but it might have something to do with her exams.

So, it's a solo thing, for now. And likewise, for now it's a children's/YA books thing. Come 2011, if I can get a partner in this, I'll try open it up to adult fiction as well (not adult fiction, but fiction aimed at older readers).

The format works like this: Every month, a new book is read by the members. I review the book online, in video form, and open up the floor for discussion. Comments, video responses, etc are all part of the experience. And at the end of the video, I announce the next book. I have special slots for the Big Summer Read and the Big Christmas Read, and my Book Horror Book for Halloween. Three brilliant books already fill those slots, and people are going to love them!

So, the book that will be read for March is... *drum roll* Skulduggery Pleasant. That's right, Irish author Derek Landy headlines the project with the first book in his series. I hope it was a good choice in fiction...

To get involved in the project, fly over to and subscribe. Next month, you'll receive a video in your subscriptions box and there I'll be reviewing the book and telling you what the next book is! Simples.

I'll also be embedding future videos right here, and updating my Twitter followers on new videos from both of my channels. Toodle pip and all that, and thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Gay Problem

Controversial title! Oo!

No, I'm not saying "gays" are a problem. I don't believe that, so I won't encourage others to. No, the problem is not the homosexual community, but the insult, "Gay." I know people who do like members of the same sex don't consider it an insult, but to children, who really can't be sure, and who don't even fully understand the word, it is an insult. Besides... people use homosexual more and more these days, instead of gay. Gay is now a derogitory term for just about anything bad.

I read an article today that encouraged this blog post. I think it was in the Irish Independant. Basically, kids these days use the words "gay", "girl" or "woman" to insult other boys. Why? Because they're children and don't quite get that people can have feelings regardless of gender. It's things like this that stir up foul emotions in people, but they're so afraid to say anything about it, because they'll get jeered again for not being an emotionless robot, that they bottle it up.

I'm no psychologist, but the last I heard bottling things up for years can do a lot of damage. We're talking emotionally unstable, no self-esteem, no belief in themselves - insults dig deep and affect people in a number of different ways. They begin to doubt their own abilities, they might cry themsevles to sleep, they could develop severe problems in getting any sleep at all, or become overly aware of their own emotions, trying their best not to show them at all. Eating disorders can pop up into the equation, because kids don't know when to stop.

Bullying in schools is a real problem in Ireland. If what I've said isn't enough for you, consider that your friends, your children, or even yourself may have been bullied, or could still be bullied. I went through a period of isolation that I freely admitted to. It hurts to think that other people could go through the same thing. It's affected me in far too many ways, because I let it and because no one did anything about it.

I urge you to take notice of these things. Is someone acting strangely? Can you see bullying every day, and are you doing anything about it? Is the word "gay" the playground favourite for slagging matches? These are children we're talking about! They shouldn't have to go through the same things we did. They're the new generation.

It's just children, of course. Adults can go through it too. Find a confidante and tell them if you need to talk. Contact the Samaritans or a similar organisation if you find it all getting too much. They can't offer you advice, but they can be a listening ear. They can respond when you need them to. It will make you feel better. I can almost promise that.

And of course, take of yourself. Don't let bullies get you down. Don't let the word "gay" come to represent the worst of all of society, and don't let the word stop people from having feelings. It's okay. This is the twenty-first century. Men aren't robots.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Review - Mr Mumbles

Mr Mumbles (Invisible Fiends)Ever spend an entire day being sucked into someone else's scary imagination? I did. It was scary, even though it was a kids book. I speak, of course, of the brilliant Mr Mumbles by Barry Hutchison, the first book in the Invisible Fiends series. Now, I don't scare easily. Not in fiction terms, anyway. Scary movies... yeah, I get startled by them, I jump, but I sleep perfectly well afterwards, safe in the knowledge that the movie or book was adequetly disturbing to keep me entertained.

Then I read Mr Mumbles. That was beyond creepy. Waaaay beyond creepy. A very short synopsis: Mr Mumbles comes back, after six years of absense from Kyle's imagination, to kill his old friend. He's big, he's bad, and his mouth is stitched shut. And no matter what you do, you can't kill him.

Sleep now!

Rat-at-at-at. That's him at your bedroom window now. He wants to play. He's come down from your attic just to see you.

Admitedly while reading this book I reached one point where I thought, "Oh no, the magic is lost." I'm sure Hutchison himself knows when I mean. I'll you this though, if you think this, keep reading! That moment of lost magic is short and evil. Really evil. It's a bad thought. It's a trap. Don't fall for it. The rest of the story actually fits perfectly around it. It's neccessary.

Was the book better than I expected? That's a tough one to answer. I had very high expectations for this book as a high fantasy story of magic. I got Urban Horror. I was actually more satisfied with that. It was scarier. It helped, of course, not to look up anything about the book. I didn't know what it would be like apart from the online extract on Barry's website.

Was it really scary? Hollah? Hollah. Twice. This book is the scariest kids book I've ever read. Ever. Scarier than Darren Shan. But that's the thing, Shan is best at his gore. Yes, it's horror, but of a different sort. Hutchison has managed to get inside the head of the reader and use their own imagination against them. Mr Mumbles, the character, is an imaginary friend. How crazy is that? I didn't have an imaginary friend, but I do have an active imagination. As do kids who read. Once they read this, they'll be scared. Really scared. In the good way of course. Fear is important. And if they get too scared? I suppose then they can read something like The Fall, or Mister Monday, both by Garth Nix. They're not scary at all. Seriously. But really they should be glad to be scared. And they should come back for more.

What about sequels? You said it was a series. Oh, it is. It's a great big nasty series. An extract from the next book, Raggy Maggie, was in the back of Mr Mumbles. It looks to be even scarier! I won't give away any spoilers on that end, but my goodness! I can't wait for that to come out in July!

So... really recommended, then? Yes! You're missing out if you don't read it. You're underestimating the brilliance of the series if you don't read it!

Mr Mumbles is available in all good bookstores as of February 4th 2010. If they don't have it in stock, it might be sold out. Or they're still waiting for a delivery. It happens, you know. Harper Collins were lucky enough to swoop it up. We should all thank them. Oh, and Google Barry Hutchison, find his Twitter, YouTube or website, and tell him what you think of his book. Tell him Paul Carroll sent you. ;-)

(Oh look, something in italics. That's interesting!)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Book Giveaways

Hello valuable reader!

I've got two giveaways, in case you don't know. Well, you can't possibly know about one of them, but the other has been ongoing for a short while and concludes next week! Tell your friends!

The info on this giveaway is available here

As to the other one... well, I have a copy of Geneticide, my own book, to give away. So far, half the story has been posted online, and the rest will go up after this giveaway. The hard copy of the book, though, has more than what you'll get online. There are some Interludes in there that tell short stories of their own. I'm actually happier with them than I am with the rest of the book!

To be entered into the draw to win this, simply answer this question: If you had a super power, what would it be?

Stuck for inspiration on ideas? Check out to read the book and get your mind thinking!

Competition ends February 18th, 2010. Open Internationally (ditto with the YouTube giveaway)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Yet another magazine update

Remember that mad idea I had of wanting to write my own magazine and selling it on Well, that's been changed today. The magazine is still very much the same, but I'm looking for a team of writers to help me do it!

So far on my rota is Lisa Sills, a fabulous young writer from Wexford, Ireland. I know her through the Den, which helps. She's going to be writing a very special autobiographical article, following her path to literary stardom each month. Essentially it's a blog type thing of "I did this this month." Once we have her second feature, we'll be grand.

My own pieces are: a piece on ethics or motivation, recommended books, and the following of my Sooper Sekrit Project.

But we need your help. Firstly, we need 2-3 more writers to take on full positions in the magazine. No backing out after one issue, because that escapes the point. It'll be a fun thing to do, with a chance ot make some money. Secondly, we need readers. If you'd like to receive updates on the magazine, email your name to anonwritermag(at)yahoo(dot)com -- when the first issue comes out, I'll let you know. It'll be free to download, and to print you only need to pay the print costs (and P&P). We won't make money from that one.

Spread the word - the hottest new Indie Magazine is on its way, and it needs YOU!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Made my Day

Have you ever had one of those days where something "makes" it? I don't know where the phrase comes from, but I think it happened to me today, a lot. I'll be honest, the learning side of college today wasn't too much fun. I was too tired to pay full attention. Bleary eyed and trying to take notes... not a good combination.

So, what happened today for me? Three things, possibly going on four. In order and in detail:

I had Haagen Dazs for the first time today. Ever. I know, it's something of a heresy to have never tried it. And get this, I still haven't tried Ben And Jerry's either. I live in a completely sheltered world. My first time on a train was when I was in fifth year. That's kind of sad considering there are train lines everywhere in Dublin. Anyway, the ice cream was great. I got Belgian Chocolate.

When I got home there was a delightful package waiting for me. It was, I can happily reveal, my copy of Mr Mumbles by Barry Hutchison. Signed and prescribed too. I was estatic to finally receive it. Barry told me he sent it about two weeks ago. What a long wait.

And number three? Well, it was the dedication in the book. Sheer awesome! Wait until you see it. So cool!

The fourth was, and currently is, Glee. It's on now. How fun!

Now, this little Gleek's gotta go. Toodles!