Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Busy Month Ahead

As I'm sure you know, if you actually follow my posts, I'm taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo this year, with a word-count aim of 60,000. I'm actually hoping to do more than that, but I was aiming to just do one thing: complete three novellas. In reality, if I could write an average of 3,000 words per day, and keep it up after July, I'd be at the point of writing as much as I'd want to.

However, for now we're just going to focus on the 60,000 words.

This works out at just under 2,000 words per day. That's doable. Extremely doable. Today I wrote a short story longer than that, and I was in work. Writing that every day for the first eight or nine days should bring The Hounds of Hell to completion. In theory. That leaves roughly 11 days for each of the next two books, The Blood of Leap and The Fires of Tara.

Now, I'm not just doing Camp NaNoWriMo next month. No, that would be too easy.

I'll still be writing on my blog every day. I'll still be writing poetry every day. I think I'm even going to force myself to start pitching articles to magazines, soon. That could mean having articles to write in the middle of all the other work I'm doing. What that means is that I could actually start earning money from writing while I work on the longer-term projects. You know, like other writers do it.

To top it all off, I'll be undertaking a large project with some friends, too. We have to set a start date and work out some finer details (and if they're reading this, and they're remembering what I'm talking about, they really ought to contact me to find out what's happening) but once it gets going, it'll take a fair bit of work to keep to going.

That's vague, but I'm trying not to spoil what I think is an awesome idea. For once, I'm not keeping it a secret from everybody before I write about it here, though.

I've also got to launch The Hounds of Hell during the month. In order to actually release more than one book in the space of a year in the series, it's necessary to actually publish it in July, while I'm writing the other books. I'm hoping that if I can work consistently from July 1st onwards, I'll be able to finish writing the series before the end of September.

That seems so far away right now, but I know that when I finish writing the final book, it'll seem like no time at all has passed since I started writing the series. It feels weird now to think that Balor Reborn was written last summer. A year ago, only three other people knew about it. Now I don't shut up about it.

Speaking of things I'm not going to shut up about for the next month, don't forget to enter my competition if you're taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo this year. Details can be found here:

Happy writing. Tomorrow, I'll give you the first update on my progress during Camp.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Unexpectedly Exhausted - Have Some Tea!

In work, I half-complained about being tired and hungry. By the time I arrived home, I was exhausted. I went to bed with a glass of water, hoping to feel better by dinner time. Two hours later: nope. I might have even felt worse. I'm light-headed, and really not in a position to use words. With that in mind, and needing to post something tonight, have some tea!

*cue Instagramafied pictures*

This first image takes me back to college. While it's not been a long time since I was in the building (I was there on Wednesday), it's been a month since I was there because I had to be (as opposed to just showing up to get my results a day earlier than if they'd been sent in the post.) Despite the No Food or Drink in the lecture room rules, I still brought a cup of tea in like this every day. It wasn't environmentally friendly, I'll admit, but a flash would have been too obvious.

Kermit the Frog makes a regular appearance. Who can say no to that face? I can't. Hence why I bought the mug in the first place in the Disney Store. Corporate greed aside, I love that place, and when The Muppets had been in the cinema, I couldn't help but grab the mug. I only wish I had the four other cups in the set, featuring Fozzie Bear, Animal, Miss Piggy and Gonzo the Great. They do have just aren't the same.

The Disney debut in my collection was actually Dopey. I remember as a child staying in my cousin's house over night. I must have only been three or four. She didn't have much that would have been suitable for myself and my twin brother, but she did have Disney films (on VHS!). She stuck on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and when I saw the Dopey mug on the opening day of the Disney Store (back when the Queen visited Ireland, I believe), I couldn't help myself.

This one time, when I was Tower Records, I saw a flask. A Star Wars flask. My childhood screamed at me. My need for a flask screamed at me. I bought it immediately. Isn't it cool?

This final cup - though I think it's actually without tea at the time of the photograph - was actually a present from a friend on my birthday. I don't normally like things that have my name all over them, but I do enjoy this cup. It's all about how great people named Paul are, so what's not to love?

That's about all the tea Instagram has seen from me. So far. I still have at least half a dozen cups that haven't made it online yet, but that'll all change some day. In the meantime, I'm going to take things easy and hope the feeling of being light-headed goes away soon. And, you know, I'll have a cup of tea.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Camp is Back On!

A couple of years ago, I took part in Camp NaNoWriMo. I was writing a Science Fiction novel, Bliss. I wrote sporadically and infrequently, and only had 24.5 thousand words written with five days to go. In the next four days, I wrote the remaining 25.5 thousand words that would bring me to victory. I later finished the book in the next NaNoWriMo, when I finally mustered the motivation.

This year, I'm doing it again.

As a result of my troubles with motivation and getting myself to write a lot and regularly, I've fallen behind on my writing schedule so far since college ended. So, I've set myself a Camp NaNoWriMo target (yep, we get to set our own targets in Camp, now!) of 60,000.

In reality, my target is to write:

- The Hounds of Hell,
- The Blood of Leap, and
- The Fires of Tara.

Yes, you read those correctly: those are the titles for the next three Modern Irish Myth books. And I want to have them completely written by July 31st.

More than that, I want to have The Hounds of Hell published by the end of that month, too. And I'd like to offer you a chance to win all five books in the series, including Balor Reborn and Old Gods Returned. One winner will be chosen from all those who:

1. Comment below with their Camp NaNoWriMo username and target word count.
2. Complete Camp NaNoWriMo 2013.

The books will be sent upon their release dates (so make sure you give me a means to contact you!), with any released books sent in early August.


I want to encourage more people to write, especially if you've never managed to finish writing a novel(la), and I want to offer a prize that has some monetary value.

Camp starts on Monday. Will you be joining me?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How Did FUFDay Go?

On the second time around, Face Up to Fear Day was less successful. However, that said, I forced myself to do a couple of things.

The big one was to record a poem for my YouTube channel that'll serve as an introduction to who I am. I figure that was something I should probably do, even if it meant having to put my face out there again, and try to figure out what to say. Since I plan on putting up a fair bit of poetry on the channel, I figured it was a good idea for a video. You can watch it below.

I still cringe at how up close it is, and how poor the quality of the camera is. One day, I'll be able to replace my set up.

Incidentally, the other bit of work I did today was to write the copy for a couple of gigs for Fiverr (which has just updated its model, so not everything is $5.) I'll be launching both gigs (as they were called the last time I checked) tomorrow, and I'll probably have to create a web-page to support them both on my website, as a way of driving traffic to them in some way.

I've avoided doing it in the past, for all the usual reasons, but I think I'm finally ready to do it. Plus, with my current working situation, I have plenty of time to address this sort of stuff.

While I didn't get to do everything on my list (again), I think the last-minute work I did tonight (after a less-than-exciting day) has paid off towards something. In the spirit of the day, I'll keep on working tomorrow. That's the point, after all. I'm supposed to be doing these things all the time, and for whatever reason, I haven't been able to of late.

Tomorrow's another chance to get things right. I wonder how many super exciting things I can get done in the space of a few hours.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Results Are In!

Well, it happened. I received my exam results, and I'm finally free from the stress of those dreaded exams, coming out with an honours degree (and that's about as much about that as I'll say online).

There's something incredibly relieving about holding the final transcript of exam results that I don't think I can effectively capture in a few words. Four years of lectures, essays, teaching placements and exams, all down to one piece of paper - and this one's not even the degree! But the little piece of paper I received today doesn't say much about my time in college.

Yes, it reveals how well I did in my final year modules. Yes, it says how well I did in my research paper (incidentally, it was the best result on the page). And yes, it says how well I did in my teaching placement. But it says nothing about the amazing friends I've made in the four years that led to this day. It says nothing about the conversations over tea and spirits, sitting together at a dinner table or dancing like everybody's watching and we're the sexiest people to ever walk in the doors of whatever pub or club we've found ourselves in when the occasion struck.

It says nothing about the final curtain of my first performance in Drama Soc, or the lights going up on my own play. It says nothing about trips across the city for competitions, or fundraising for an important charity. It says nothing about bake sales and lunch time masses and inflatable slides suitable for a child's party, parked outside the canteen.

It says nothing about the scandals or the romances, the fights and the make-ups, meeting new people and saying goodbye to wonderful friends.

The results are in, and they say so little about what four years in college actually means. This was an opportunity for me, provided willingly by my parents. They didn't doubt my decision to go to this small college they'd never heard of. They supported me when I told them I was going for Drama Soc auditions in first year, and they sat in the audience when The Rest is Silence sold out in third year. They allowed us to have friends down at the house, hosting a post-21st-birthday-party party.

When they arrived home from work today, the first thing I did was hug them. I can never say thank you enough to them for everything they've done for me over the past four years, including all the worrying and the anxiety they went through, hoping that things worked out okay. From making lunches to ironing shirts when I was on Teaching Placement, or picking me up from the college when rehearsals in Drama went on too long; from allowing me to be upset that one of my best friends would be leaving the college, to supporting my choices in what I'd like to study in a Masters course in the future; there are too many things for me to be grateful for, too many to name and too many to think of, and I don't see myself ever being able to express it to them how much they mean to me, and how much these past four years have meant to me.

A little piece of paper told me about my academic results. Nothing can accurately summarise the results of the past four years on my life, on who I am and how I feel and think. There just aren't enough words, and I think I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It'll Be Okay

Tomorrow, my college's website is going to crash. How do I know this? Because, historically speaking, it crashes every time exam results are released.

Yes, that's right, tomorrow is the day we find out if we passed or failed the Dreaded Exams. Some are calling it D-Day. Nobody is looking forward to it. Me? I'm trying to remain in denial about it for a while, which I think is perfectly acceptable for the time being. As it is, the results are in a state of being akin to Schroedinger's Cat; they are, for the time being, both a pass and a fail.

Fun, right? Damn scientists...

Anyway, in my move to Not Think About It, I'm going to get comic books. As I do every Wednesday. Yes, I'm treating it like any other day, even if it isn't. I'm even contemplating going to the college to collect my transcript, to avoid having to wait until Friday to receive it in the post (because I don't think the Irish postal system is going to deliver them by the next day.) It would be a relief, wouldn't it?

I'm not going to panic, though. I don't think anything good could come from panicking over this. Instead, I'll enjoy superheroes beating the crap out of each other. I'll read The Hobbit. I'll watch YouTube videos.

Basically, I'm going to have a ridiculously relaxing day, tomorrow, and I'm going to tell myself I deserve it. Simples.

It's all going to be okay. I've already done the hard work. I've already put myself in the position of worrying over exams. I literally cannot do anything now about the results, and so I'm not even going to pretend and try. Wish me luck if you want to, but as a friend of mine pointed out a couple of years back, luck can do very little at this stage.

To my fellow classmates, those in other years, I'm not going to wish you good luck in your results. Instead, I'd like to wish you a nice day, and encourage you to do something nice for yourself to help you relax. We've done our best, and our best is all we can do.

Peace, Love and Potter,

Monday, June 24, 2013

More FUF?

My Face Up to Fear Day (i.e. FUFDay) has the potential be a weekly affair. But the real question is, will it?

Last week, I had seven ideas for things I could do. I ended up doing two of them, and one other item that wasn't on the list. This week, I have the potential to do up to eight different things. Eight. That's one more!

This includes, of course, a repetition of a YouTube overload. However, I don't plan on doing that five-videos -in-a-day sort of thing again any time soon. Too much work, too little else done. Plus, I don't think my eyes enjoyed it every much. I do, however, have a number of other related videos that could over time, become a new playlist of poetry on my channel. And that's always fun, right?

There still remains, on the list, a few items I haven't even once addressed. One of these is simply to write a short story, to submit to a competition. The real "facing up to fear" aspect of it is the submission of the story. I've been avoiding competitions for a long time, partly for fear of rejection, partly because of the entrance fee. (I canny help being without money a lot of the time...and then I buy comic books.) However, I'm really going to give it a shot, and hope that I can produce something that's up to the standard's expected. Fingers crossed, right?

There are other things I can do more set-up for, as well, though they're more boring now than they have the potential to be, based on their success, and as with a couple of the challenges faced last week, they'll remain unspoken of until such time that they actually result in something happening. Or something. (I've got three this week that are like that, so, you know, don't expect to hear much about those for a while.)

Even now, I can see the potential for the continuance of FUFDay. It can get a great many things done.

However, it can also reduce me to only doing important things on a weekly basis, and that's not ideal. I think, maybe, once I get into the habit of doing two or three things per week that scare the content out of me, I'll double the FUFDay antics. Then double it again. And they I'll have a four-day working week set up for myself in which I make sure I'm always producing and publishing something, and hoping people find some value in that.

And hey, I think I can be okay with working for four days of the week on things I love doing and that I'm just too damned scared in a weird sort of way to not do anything about. FUF fo' life?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sleep Malfunction

Last night, I was at a party. Weird, right? I don't often go to parties. I don't often write about going to them much, anymore, either. The only reason I'm mentioning it at all is that I finally went to sleep at three in the morning.

When I woke up at six and needed to use the bathroom, I knew I was in trouble.

I don't get back to sleep easily after I've woken up, especially not if I have to get out of bed for whatever reason. As a result, I've been surviving on three hours' sleep all day. I eventually forced myself out of bed a second time to get tea, when I realised I wasn't going to fall back asleep again, and if I did I'd have trouble getting up.

So that sucked.

When that cup of tea was empty, breakfast was all but ready. I had another cup of tea with it, which helped. Post-shower, I grabbed a third cup. Don't judge me.

Work on a Sunday isn't actually that bad, but being tired while being there certainly makes it more painful than it ought to be. It's just a bookshop, dammit. Still, at lunch I grabbed another cup of tea. Yep, I'm an addict.

I can't remember getting another cup when I came in. I don't think I did. I had dinner, then went up to my bedroom for a while. Lying on my bed, I fell asleep for about half an hour. I am not a napping person. At all. I feel groggy afterwards. I couldn't use my elbows or knees properly. I felt weak. I had more tea.

When I eventually became too tired to keep reading The Hobbit (it's my first time...and my brain keeps noticing things and then trying to remember what happened in the first film...and trying to make sense of the events of the films being out of sync with how they appear in the book...and that's tiring!), I decided it was time to write this blog post. That's a natural response, right?

Except my brain wasn't working. I was going to write about something else, before realising a couple of sentences in that I didn't want to talk about it, and that left me stumped. Hence: the tea jokes.

Speaking of... I think it's time for another cup. I'm not going to say I'm an addict (because I don't know if you can actually become addicted to tea, and I don't want to make light of addiction), but there must be a reason I drink so much tea, and take so many pictures of me drinking tea. It might have something to do with the fact that college and exams and teaching placement for four years don't loan themselves well to sleeping properly. It might be that the tea is part of the reason I don't sleep properly all the time.

All I know is, I'm getting more tea, and I'm leaving you with Kermit.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

It Happened Again

I don't know why, but I find myself struggling to figure out what to write a blog post about, again. I think it's the idea that I really only have half an hour to write it that's putting me off, because I can't just let my brain figure something out in the background while I do other things.

Part of me wants to write about Man of Steel, and why it was so much better than Superman Returns.

Part of me wants to address the fact that the weather is extremely messed up and not constitutive to getting anything done outside.

Part of me wants to talk about the fact that a couple of my friends are leaving the country for a while and I have no idea when I'll get to see them after they leave.

Let's stick with that one for a while. I've had an aversion to leaving home for a while, largely due to the fact that I make 90 euro a week, partially to do with the fact that I've never lived away from home. I think if I could fix one of those issues, I could probably do as my friends are doing - and as friends have done in the past - and leave the country and live somewhere else. Even just earning some money to build up a savings would be a good start on the financial front.

But this isn't really about me leaving home. This is about the fact that it'll hit in in August that two of my very good friends won't just be a bus ride away anymore. We can't make plans on a weekly basis to meet up based on when we're working. It's not that simple.

It's for those reasons that I'll miss them. Not because I won't see them very often, because that's always the case for the summer months as it is, but because it'll be difficult to know when I'll see them. The uncertainty is the worst part about it, because I can't just tell myself that I'll see either of them in however many days.

The same sort of feeling took hold last year when another good friend of mine left the country, and it's no easier the second time around to wrap my head around missing my friends but also being happy for them for why they moved away. Because I am happy for them. Delighted, in fact. That doesn't mean we won't all be upset when we have going-away get-togethers.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Some days it's just easier
To smile and say goodbye,
To the memories and fantasies
And ideas of you and I,
Without asking too many questions
Of the how and why.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Inaugural FUFDay

Today, I faced my fears.

Well, not all of them. FUFDay - Face Up to Fear Day - is going to be a weekly thing, for me. I have items on the list I'd drawn up that I just didn't have time to complete. I reckon if I hadn't had to go get a hair cut, I might have achieved something. I blame the hairdresser for changing their student offer ('cause there's no way I'm spending €25 on a haircut that could cost me €9.)

Delays aside, I got to work.

Now, two of the three things I did are sort of personal. They're the sort of personal I can announce if/when I know more about them. We'll put it this way: it took some forcing to get myself to do them. In one case, I've never done it before. In another, it's been over a year since I've done anything close to it...and I did a lot more of it than ever before. (Hurray for vagueness, right?) In both cases, your finding out will be based on the results of my actions today. If I've been successful, you'll know.

Anyway, in less vague terms, I posted five poems on YouTube today. That's more than doubled the amount of poem-videos I have on my channel.

These videos, as a sort of easing-myself-into-it decision, are about five YouTube channels (totalling seven YouTubers). Well, I say "about"... I mean they've been inspired by them, in some cases speak to them directly to them, but they're not biographical works.

The first video features the poem Young Hopeful, quote-unquote about Carrie Hope Fletcher. As these videos were posted in order of writing, I suppose I ought to explain why I wrote it. Problem is, I can't. I just got an idea for the poem, the words happened, and it was somewhat about Carrie, but not quite.

With WOTO up next, I even broke their name for the poem; rather than making reference to the World of the Orange, my poem is called Contented Content of the World of Orange. It's almost the same thing. Not almost enough. However, I didn't write the poem to get everything right. I wrote it to capture some of the fun of the duo behind the channel, Brad and Liam. If they see it, maybe they'll like it.

The third poem, If, Like, is more addressed to Charlie McDonnell than about him. It was also the first poem I wrote because I wanted to write a poem about a YouTuber, and not because I had a video on my mind. Charlie was also the first YouTuber I watched that I've stuck with since finding his channel, which I think is fun.

In an attempt to continue writing about my favourite YouTubers, I came to Alex Day. Unfortunately, many of Alex's videos have been about Twilight or sex. He's also vlogged about a lot of other things, but the one thing that always pops up again is his music. With that in mind, I wrote the poem, The Day, utilizing as many titles of his songs as I could. I'm fairly happy with the result.

The final poem was probably the hardest to write, because I wasn't sure what to say at all. A Home in Nerdfighteria is a semi-fictional address to some of the recurring jokes in the vlogbrothers videos made by John and Hank Green. I did my best with what my memory could pull out on the spot.

Now, the reason these poems were part of FUFDay: the audience.

Not only do I get nervous getting on stage, I mumble on camera. In the editing process, I also became aware of how many times I said "um" and "eh". And all these worries weren't even to do with the poems. What if people hear them and don't like them? What if people think it's incredibly, ridiculously weird to have written the poems, and think I should just get off the Internet forever?

Okay, that last one was a joke. But what if the people about whom they were written (or who I had in mind when I was writing them) don't like them? And I don't mean just not liking them. I mean disliking them. Actively. That would suck.

Can we play the Make the YouTuber Find the Thing game and see what happens, though?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Three Weeks

Three weeks ago, I met up with some friends in Dublin city centre, and we wrote poetry. I went on a mad one, writing what I saw and attempting to do one thing: write a lot of poetry, and look later to see if any of it is any good.

From that day, until today, I've been using the same notebook. It's one of four, and it's officially been filled.

Three weeks' work has gone into the first notebook. This has seen 60 pages filled with 36 poems of varying quality and length. Some I wrote because I needed to write a poem that day (remember, I'm writing at least one poem every day this month!), others I wrote because the idea was in my head.

There are poems about relationships, poems about things that have been bothering me, poems about spelling, poems about Dublin and poems about YouTubers. The latter category will be on display, all things going according to plan, from tomorrow onwards, in a short series of videos, as I discussed in my previous post.

That's all part of Face Up To Fear Day, or FUFDay as my friend Ian has put it. (You know Ian...I've mentioned Ian a lot.) Anyway, it's part of my attempt to get some poetry out into the world, which has been an important thing for me. However, recent activities, from over the past few months, have made it so I don't just want to post the words online. I want to perform the poems, to read them so that they have more substance, and I want it to be supported only by my voice. Not some gimmick with a word cloud, not with a song playing in the background. Just me.

I typed up a lot of the poems I've written recently, today. It took a while, especially considering the fact that one poem is almost 120 lines long. I was proud of that one.

My aim, over the next few days and weeks, is to type and print every one of my poems to have an accessible collection for my poetry folder. As you can tell from the photo above, it's extremely professional. It'll have a lot of work in it, though, when I've caught up with the poems that haven't yet been typed. There are still a lot of them from before I opened the first notebook, and that's where the backlog will come from.

Thankfully, the longest poems have been typed up already, for the most part. One of them was short-listed in the Heart-in-Mouth competition this year, another ended up on my college's website as a goodbye to the other final year students. Thus far, those are my poetic achievements. I'm hoping to add to that list eventually.

Anyway, that's it from me for tonight. Tomorrow, I'll be posting an awful lot online. It's going to be a busy inaugural FUFDay.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fear Facing Prep

Yesterday, I mentioned the idea of doing a Face Up To Fear Day this Thursday. The basic idea was to do a few different things that I've been putting off for one reason or another that could summarily be called Fear. I've been afraid to put myself and my work on the line, and I've decided to put an end to that.

So, Thursday is going to be my inaugural Face Up To Fear Day. It might be a weekly thing.

Because it's such a personal thing, I'm not going to be listing everything I'll be doing on Thursday as part of this. However, one thing I have no trouble mentioning is that I'll be releasing a series of videos. I've been writing poems every day this month, as I'm sure you know, and a few of these have been about some of my favourite YouTubers.

The idea behind that is that I've been avoiding doing recordings of poems for a while. This is possibly because they've been so personal in a lot of cases, and while I don't plan on keeping those poems a secret forever and ever, I don't think I have the guts to put them out in the world myself just yet.

So, that's my compromise, and it's an example I can work with.

I drew up a list of everything I need to do to actually face up to that fear of putting some work out there, focusing on something that isn't so personal it'll terrify me if people hear me reading it. This list included:

- Write at least one more poem.
- Type up the poems.
- Memorise the poems - or enough of them at a time - for recording.
- Edit the videos.
- Release, and create a playlist.

Since I've been announcing the poems on Twitter as I've been writing them, I can reveal that the YouTubers who have poems written about them are, in order of writing:

- Carrie Hope Fletcher
- The World of Orange (WOTO)
- Charlie McDonnell
- Alex Day
- John and Hank Green (the vlogbrothers)

I consider this Volume 1 of The YouTuber Poems.

I'm not presuming them to be brilliant poems, though I'm happy with what I managed to do with a few of them, and I very much doubt any of the seven people above (two in WOTO) will ever see the videos. However, if they do, and/or if people enjoy them, I'll take that as a positive sign and work on writing poems about some of my other favourites.

I have a few other items on the list for Thursday, which will require putting myself out of my comfort zone. And that's the point. I've been hiding behind this safety net, and I want to get out of it, to get into the world and to start experiencing something new and exciting. I can't do that if I hide behind fear all the time.

On Thursday night, I'll go over how everything went with the day (and I'll embed the videos here). This'll be a fun day, I think, if not a little bit terrifying in parts.

Monday, June 17, 2013

How Many Ebooks Does It Take?

Every day, I do two things: I check my ebook sales through Amazon, and I update a file that keeps track of my monthly earnings, and my earnings per book. But how many ebooks does it take to match my monthly earnings in work?

Let's break this down a bit:

- A $0.99 ebook earns me, approximately, €0.30.
- A $2.99 ebook earns me, approximately, €1.70.
- I earn, on weeks in which I don't have extra hours, roughly €90 from work. We'll call it €360 for the month.

With those figures in mind, I would need to see 1200 ebooks at $0.99 per month to be matching my earnings from the bookshop. You read that correctly.

I currently have three books with that price tag stuck on them: Planning Before Writing, Old Gods Returned, and Writing Gifts, on a Shoestring.

Similarly, I need to sell 212 ebooks at $2.99 to make the same €360 per month. It's considerably less, as you can see. Right now, I only have one book published at that price: Balor Reborn.

I'm under no illusion that this is an easy task. Selling even a tenth as many books as I'd need to just to match my bookshop earnings is difficult. If a writer planned on making a living from writing, they'd need to: (a) have a massive readership and/or (b) earn money from different sources.

I would recommend the latter. Ebooks, as I think I've said here before, are not the goldmine people seem to think they are. Unless you become a bestseller, you're probably not going to put food on the table three times a day every day of the month from ebooks. (Unless you can feed your whole family on €1.70 per meal and sell only 90 ebooks at $2.99... and even then, that's a challenge.)

Considering the fact that rent for most people is at least as much as I earn per month, most likely more, there are obvious obstacles to overcome financially. Believe me when I say this, I would much rather be able to earn from ebooks than mop up a shop floor on a Sunday afternoon. But that's just not possible at the moment.

Why the honesty about the figures? I guess because I want to make it clear to myself why I'm not just packing in the job every time I feel like I don't want to be there (mopping up floors with people walking on them at the same time, or carrying out rubbish bags that are torn in several places...) The reality is, I don't currently have another way of making money than working in a shop that isn't getting enough business to keep me constantly busy. I wouldn't mind if there was something to do throughout the entire day. I would prefer be nearly run off my feet in the shop keeping the till going or replacing stock on the shelves. I wouldn't feel like I was just waiting for the next person to show up with a book to buy or a complaint to make about how we don't, as a small bookshop, have the out of print book they're looking for.

Part of me had these high hopes that when college finished up, I'd be in a position to change my life drastically. That just isn't so. Sure, life is different. But I didn't make that change. Maybe I'm afraid to do something about it. That seems very likely. I'm going to try challenge that fear this week (Thursday's going to be my Face Up To Fear Day) by doing something different, by breaking out of the mould I'm in. While I'm still going to keep publishing ebooks (and I'm working on getting Planning Before Writing available through Smashwords, but the site is giving me some trouble), I'm not going to pretend that it'll be easy to even match my income from the bookshop any time soon.

It take a lot of ebooks to make a difference in a life. The best way you can help an author is to buy their books and recommend those books to friends. It can help pay food bills, or make life more meaningful, or help save for education, either their own or their children's or their partner's. How many people does it take to change an author's life?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Back On Track

Today, I wrote a wee list of things I wanted to get done in the evening. For once, I've actually managed to stick to it. The list included:

- Finish the chapter I was writing.
- Write a blog post.
- Write a poem.
- Update my sales file on my laptop.

As of writing this post, I have everything else done. While it's not enough to stick to my previously intended publication date for The Hounds of Hell, it's certainly enough that I might be able to get myself back into some rhythm of work again. I had no trouble actually forcing myself to write the rest of the chapter.

As for the poem... well, that was a bit more difficult. Sometimes, I have an idea of what I want to write. Today, I just focused on 's' sounds, and went with it from there. Rather than trying to write The Best Poem Ever, I decided I would just attempt to improve upon how I use certain words and sounds in my poetry. The only way to do that is through practice. I was fairly happy with that.

As you might have guessed, updating the sales file was the easiest thing to do this evening. I have my file set up in such a way that I just need to change one figure (the number of books sold) to determine: (a) how many copies of that book I've sold in total, (b) how many books I've sold in total, (c) how much I've earned, roughly, from a single title, and (d) how much I've earned, roughly, from every book I've published.

What most surprised me was the surge in sales since last night. I was not complaining. I had expected sales to dip from the moment Planning Before Writing stopped being on Kindle Select. I was wrong, and I was glad I was wrong. It seems that the book is simply selling because people wanted to read it, not because Amazon was pushing it especially hard for being a Select book.

With that in mind, I think tomorrow I'll arrange for Planning Before Writing to hit the shelves of Smashwords. Renewing the Kindle Select agreement would only do one thing: allow Amazon, exclusively, to earn from my wee book. I don't have an plans to make that book free again, at least not for the foreseeable future, and so this is the best way forward with it.

It'll be interesting to test the waters of Smashwords again, albeit with a totally different book to Stepping Forward. It'll require updating links on my website and on to ensure readers have a choice in where they're sent to, but it'll be worth it. Plus, it'll mean the book will eventually be available for purchase on various stores online. Huzzah and such.

So, that's part of tomorrow's plan. I'll also have to write like crazy, which will be fun. I don't plan on staying up too late tonight, but at the very least I'll be awake in time to take advantage of the day ahead of me. I'm back on track to writing regularly and keeping myself busy. It's about time.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Does Honesty Pay?

Tonight, we watched The Campaign. If you haven't seen it, and don't care to, here's a brief plot summary: two politicians from the same town are competing for Congress. One is being backed by billionaires, the other has never been competed against and is running for his fifth consecutive term. They both play dirty, they both lie. On the day one finally speaks honestly, he loses the election; the other secedes the position, and the honest guy wins by default.

Simple put, honesty paid off.

However, this was honesty on the back of lies and deceit. This got me thinking, if he had been honest from the beginning, would things have gone the same way for him? Would be have won if he had never lied during his campaign?

It then made me think, how would my life be different if I was completely honest with people all the time? It would mean spilling the beans on things I prefer not to talk about. It would also mean telling people what I think of them if they ask. That, I think, might cause more problems than not having personal secrets.

That is not to say that my opinions of people are bad. Rather, it means that people might behave differently around me, or no longer wish to be around me at all (either because I've insulted them, or they're not comfortable with what I think about them.) Whether it's flattery or insult, a lot of people don't like to know what people actually think about them.

I can understand that. On the days when I'm especially self-conscious, knowing what people think of me is one of the last things that appeals to me. It's not constitutive to a health relationship with someone with whom total honesty is not a fundamental aspect of being together. Friends don't have to know everything about each other, and especially not their opinions of each other. (Again, for either flattery or insult.)

For me, I even recognise that my opinions of people could easily be wrong. Having to tell people what I think of them - in the moment - isn't necessarily the truth as I see it. As the spectrum of human emotion can determine what we recognise as the truth, the latter might not always be the reality of the matter.

What's worse is that there could come massive generalisations. Thinking someone is annoying is often as a direct result of something that they do when they're around you. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that that's how they always are, and it is entirely constitutive on what you might consider annoying at any given period in time. (And I get this entirely from other people's perspectives, too. I'm fairly sure that a lot of what I do might be considered annoying. That would, rationally, explain difficulties with bullies in secondary school; what they consider annoying is enough for them, but for me - and for other people - it's not necessarily an annoying habit or action.)

With all of this in mind, then, how should be treat our lives? Social media has put an increasing stress on honesty, with some perverted idea of safety in being behind a screen. The reality is that this encourages people to express opinions - generally or about people - believing that they're free from consequences. This includes status updates and tweets that talk about disliking a particular type of person, when referring to someone one actually knows.

You've seen those ones, right? They're usually aimed at ex-es.

What about the bigotry that spouts from people's Facebook pages, in some foolish belief that they can never be found out about it if they keep their Facebook account private? The truth is, of course, that nothing on the Internet is private anymore.

Everything we post or upload or share is public. Everything. The lovely and insightful Rebecca Woodhead could tell you more about this, but the essence of it is this: everything can be accessed by The British Library. This means that when you think no one can find out that you've been spreading hate messages or talking about your sex life online, anyone can see it at some point, even if you don't want them to. Sure, it might not become public knowledge until after you're gone, but is that the mark you want to leave on the world?

And what about the simple process of page-printing? Let's face it, if you post something unflattering online, anyone can make sure it exists forever, no matter what you do with your account. All it takes is for one person to save it, and you can no longer remove it. This means every time you've said something negative about Muslims or women or homosexuals or people from a different town or country, you're allowing your words to be used against you. If means that every time you post a photo online that doesn't put you in the best light, you're allowing your image to be used against you. It's not just celebrities who are the objects of scandal; they're just the only ones we ever hear about.

You might think it unfair, but that's the truth. And while someone might excuse something you said as a sixteen year old, once you're legally an adult, you more or less lose permission to say anything stupid and offensive online without suffering the consequences.

Does honesty pay? I think it depends entirely on what you're being honest about. Opinions on people - people you know or people you don't - are probably best kept a secret. But those secrets you've been keeping on yourself? It's up to you how honest you want to be, so long as you're aware of the backlash that might occur. Remember, once something is seen once, it can be seen a million times.

Friday, June 14, 2013

This Brain is on Hiatus

I had meant to write about my experience in Belfast today. However, having only gotten home and in bed with time for tea to be made, I don't quite have the energy. We awoke at 5.30 in the morning, to arrive by 10-ish.

However, at 1am, this was how I looked:

(I'm not even sure where that's appearing in the post as I write it...I'll fix it tomorrow when I'm using my laptop. Update: yep, that was in the wrong place. But it's fixed now. And no long gigantic.)

Basically, I'm too exhausted now and up too early for work to say much about today. Tomorrow, if I get my hands on the photo, you'll at least get to see me lording over Westeros in the Iron Throne.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

So That's What My Floor Looks Like!

Since I was released from the shackles of third level examinations, I've been cleaning my room. It's been and on-again, off-again task these past couple of weeks, because I just didn't want to do it. As far as I was concerned, sitting about playing games or watching videos or reading books was much easier to do from the chair or bed in the room. It was a rare thing to have to actually use the floor for anything.

Alas, that logic does not hold up with the house-owners (i.e. my parents.) While I'm still too underemployed and poor to move out, this is how it has to be. If they want my room to be clean so that they could, theoretically, walk about it (while ducking... no matter how clean the floor, the ceiling will always be low), then that's how it has to be.

In practice, they never enter my room.

They've done so on...three occasions in the past two weeks. Once to open the windows during our heatwave. Once to get something copied in my printer. And once just to look and see if the room was clean.

However, I've really gone at it of late, and it's paid off...kind of.

I mean, I still have to do a few different things to finish up, but the majority of the rubbish has been cleared from the floor. Now there's just a lot of things that don't seem to have a home anywhere.

I have no idea what to do with them, and they're all necessary to keep. So...that's going to be difficult to manage. On the bright side, at least I've made some progress and can see my floor more easily. Once the tidying is done, I'll be rearranged my room to better suit my needs. Whether my parents like it or not, I'm thinking of adding more storage space to my room.

That equates to more bookshelves, and possibly somewhere to put the likes of folders for various projects. It needs some planning, and some money. So that'll be fun.

Tomorrow's post may be a little bit short... I'll be out pretty much all day, and depending on my levels of exhaustion and my ability to type on my phone at said levels of exhaustion, my ability to say anything of value may vary considerably from the norm.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Poetic Focus

Progress on The Hounds of Hell was practically non-existent today. I'm still hoping to have the energy to write at least the rest of the chapter I was working on once I finish up here.

My principal problem was that I couldn't sleep last night. This put me in a position of having a headache for most of the day that makes looking at a screen a challenge and a half. I've been avoiding writing this blog post all day for that very reason, instead focusing on part of what kept me awake so late in the first instance: poetry.

Last night, upon realising that it was Bed Time and I hadn't written a poem in the whole day, I started writing one. Forty minutes later, I put down my pen and did a line count: 120 lines. Rhyming. It took quite a lot out of me, and not just because it's an mini-epic of life and death.

Having written it, though, I couldn't sleep. When I then woke up, I wasn't sure if I could leave it there as the last poem I'd written. So, I wrote a happier poem, one about The World of Orange. That was followed by poems about exams and spelling and grammar, because there was something there that I could see, something I could take advantage of that was fun and simple and less miserable than last night's poem.

It didn't make me feel horrible to have written it, mind you, but it was a bit dark in places and I didn't want to just leave it there. I've been writing poems in the same notebook for the past couple of weeks, now, and I don't want there to be a wholly negative chunk of it as some form of conclusion. (Not that it's actually a sequence.)

This has, of course, all been part of my hopes to write more poetry, because I didn't feel like I'd written enough, or was writing enough. Now, I'm facing something of an opposite problem: I'm taking a huge focus on poetry, and not enough on fiction.

That is something I want to change, without sacrificing one for the other.

If I can manage it, I'd like to up the ante a bit. From tomorrow onwards, every day shall see me:

1. Publishing a blog post here.
2. Writing a poem.
3. Writing fiction.

Not necessarily in that order, of course, since the five poems I've written today were all completed before this post had even been conceived. (I'd planned on writing about "strong female characters", but my brain is too melted for that. Soon. Soon.) Tomorrow, I'll write a chunk of fiction - definitely enough to finish the chapter if I don't manage that tonight - as well as writing at least one poem and writing a blog post.

So yes, that'll be busy.

But it's a necessary busy-ness. I can't afford to not write fiction every day. It has to happen. I won't actually write enough if I don't write fiction every day. I'll probably have to take on Camp NaNoWriMo next month, too, to ensure I'm writing a ridiculous amount of fiction every day in an effort to destroy the deadline-target.

I've definitely got my work cut out for me, but this is the life I want to live. I just need to figure out the sleep thing, first. If I keep losing sleep (for some reason... I wish I knew) then I'm going to keep struggling with the writing. Fingers crossed, tonight I'll sleep, and my new daily writing plans can get under way.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Gripped by Exhaustion

It took me some time to actually get up this morning, by which time all hopes of waking up early to write were dashed. With a number of other factors then contributing to the time-suck of the day, including eating, chores, laziness, Skyrim and The Walking Dead (dammit, why did we start watching that...and then keep watching until season 1 reached a finale?), I quickly ran out of time in the day.

I managed to write a sizeable chunk today, despite these various distractions, but about half as much as I would have liked to. It means I still have a lot of work to do, and only a couple more days to actually get it all done.

This might mean not doing very much in terms of television or PS3 for the next while. That's a sacrifice I'm willing to make, if it means getting this book written.

The thing is, today's work was the most fiction I'd written in a very long time. It took a while to get back into the rhythm of things, to find the words more easily. I didn't just slip back into writing fiction like it was riding a bike. I wasn't just shaky at first; I was incapable.

With the chapter I'm currently working on coming to an end, I hope to beat these mental blocks. That's all they are. I'm out of practice with fiction. The ideas are there. The words, not so much. It's a different type of language to writing a blog post every day, or writing a poem, or writing non-fiction.

The actual story is going well, though. While it's more of a struggle to write it than I'd like it to be, I'm having fun with it, and getting the basis for the book in place. I've even introduced a new character to the series. She can drive. She knows my protagonist Fionn. She's going to be more and more kick-ass as the story goes on. I can't wait. Strong female characters are always interesting to create. While her role in the story will be understated by certain characters, she's integral to the development of events in the book.

Just so you know.

Anyway, in other news:
- My desire to write a zombie apocalypse novel has only increased since watching The Walking Dead season 1.
- I'm scheming something, as I have a tendency to do.
- New Comic Book Day...just, that. Tomorrow. As always. Yay!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Three Days

I've been behind on my work. A mixture of laziness, tiredness and Skyrim have put me behind massively on everything I'd wanted to get done. The sunny weather might have something to do with it, too. It makes me sleepy.

With that in mind, I'm taking a stand: in three days, I will have The Hounds of Hell and another, very short, ebook completed. Three days.

Otherwise, I'm going to fall behind my publication schedule. As it is, I need to be writing the third book in the series by the week's end, and that's not going to happen either way (the week's end seeing me unable to write for a day). That essentially means I'll be struggling to keep up with myself the more I delay.

By Thursday, I need to have the book completed. By next Wednesday, I need book three completed, too. I had, initially, planned on releasing The Hounds of Hell next Tuesday. And I had planned on giving myself more time with the book.

So, I'll be pressing on rather quickly.

If you don't hear from me much over the next few days, it's because I've gone slightly mad with this book trying to get it completed. Really, of course, this is just a repeat of last year, getting a book written and published in a week. Similarly, I need to wake up early tomorrow to get writing straight away, and not ever stop.

In theory, this is possible. In practice, it's insane.

Wish me luck, and I'll update you on the progress for the book tomorrow.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Deep and Meaningful

Is it just me, or is it a mistake to try and sound deep and meaningful in writing? Maybe it's just that I don't really feel about myself that way. I'm not talking about writing have multiple layers, mind you; I mean trying to enforce a philosophy in a book or a poem, trying to get an idea out there that only ever makes sense in the context of the writing.

Considering the poetry I've written this year, I've tended to go the opposite route, writing about personal experiences and thoughts in my head, and aiming to write about that very limited - but not necessarily shallow or meaningless - moment or relationship. (I've written a heck of a lot of poetry this year, rather than fiction, so there'll be something of a focus on the poetry in this post, I'm afraid.)

I've been writing a lot about friendships, more specifically the ones that didn't work out (more commonly than those that are ongoing and wonderful.) Sometimes, there have been explicit references to events in my life, other times it's been a more general "me and you" poem that, rather than dealing with the specific reasons that relationship imploded upon itself, I've tried dealing with the idea that a relationship, more generally speaking, has ceased.

This leads naturally on to wondering what it is about me that caused any of these friendships to fail. I try not to dwell on that - I know it's not healthy - but it does come up. I speak about myself in metaphors when it comes to that, but again: it's not an attempt to be deep and meaningful. I'm not trying to say something about life. I'm not trying to explain why X happens to everyone. It's a personal exploration of my flaws and faults, but in the context of everything else, what it was about the other person that might have made these particular aspects of my personality so...negative? Unbearable?

It gets to be a bit too much, but you know what? It's just me.

Maybe, you might argue, it is meaningful. And sure, I'll bite. There is - there has to be - some meaning to the poems. But it comes from me, and it's only as deep as anonymity and the vague essentials can reach. That, dear reader, is a shallow pool indeed, in a majority of poems.

What certainly needs clarifying is that I don't set out to write a poem to say something to the world. Often, for me, the poems just "happen". Yes, I do have to think about the words to use, but the essence of the poem is there already, and that's what makes me write it. There's something within me that needs saying, and the words slot into place more easily, even when I sit down and attempt to force something onto paper.

I've tried the grandiose statements about life and death before. Tried it, and failed it, because it doesn't come naturally when my experiences are what they are: mine. Attempting to speak about generally about something so universal as life and death, or the lackthereof of either, is to generalise about the billions of individuals, the uniquely constructed bodies, souls, minds and personalities of our species. There is nothing "general" about us but our anatomy and our surveys.

I'm not saying we shouldn't attempt to talk about life or death. I'm not saying we can't talk about our species. I'm not saying that, as writers, we can't be "deep" or "meaningful" with our work. What I am saying is that we shouldn't set out to do that, especially not if we haven't first lived a deep and meaningful life. While it's not always true that we should write what we know - because (a) that could be boring and (b) it's not necessarily going to be the best story/poem/article we could ever write, especially not if we've lived a sheltered life - but in thise case, maybe that's a good idea.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Worked sucked today. I mean, there was nothing different about it, except that it was unusually hot out. I just didn't want to be there. It's not the first time that's happened, mind you. Every time, it makes me think about what I'd prefer to be doing.

I think you know where this is going: I'd prefer to be writing for at least the money I'm on in the shop. I think the key words there being "at least". I'm not exactly earning a huge amount each week in that shop, even when I work the bank holiday. It's definitely not enough to move out of my parents' house on.

This is where I spend a lot of time planning, how to actually follow through on my dream to write for a living. Being a novelist isn't exactly the gold-mine that a lot of people think it is (and by that, I mean if you have a traditional publishing deal!). So, I'm focusing on a couple of different areas:

- Freelancing. I've been putting it off. Fear of rejection, etc. etc. You know, the usual crap that stops people doing things they actually want to do. However, if I get past that fear and get into freelancing and receive anything close to what I did for my Writing Magazine article (publishing back in the October issue), four articles per month would be worth more to me than my job right now.

- Publishing. It's a ball that's been rolling for a while, but it's really picking up this summer. However, as with all things writing, there's going to be a fair amount of uncertainty around it for a long time. I won't have an average earnings report (for myself) until about six months of publishing a higher volume of titles. All I know is, I need to sell a fair few books each month to match my income from the bookshop.

- Fiverr. I'm tempted to get really serious about a couple of ideas there. I know I can do a couple of things quickly enough that charging $5 for them won't kill me. If I did it for even a little while moderately successfully, I'll be earning a happy little income.

- Submissions. Less certain than anything else so far. I mean poety. I mean short stories. I mean novels. And editors are looking for the best of the best. It's not that I don't think I've written anything worth publishing. The problem, as is the problem for every capable writer, is in finding the editor who wants to publish what you've submitted.

- Advertising. I'm starting a couple of new blogs in the coming months, which will be ad-supported. At the same time, I'll be picking up on my YouTube channel (which now has ads enabled). It's an uncertain earner, but it could - in the long run - provide some sort of financial help.

The only other options I can see right now are getting into affiliate sales more seriously than ever before, or finding a new job. The latter's been on my mind for a long time, now. Almost six years in the same shop, working only weekends, wasn't so bad when I wasn't actually qualified for anything. While I don't plan on teaching for at least a year, I have to consider how to put my degree to use in other ways.

What it all comes down to, though, is making the job I have less...sucky. I think the fact that I'm dependent on the money and there's not much of it - or much responsibility in the job - is bringing me down. If I wasn't tied to this one place as my only source of income, I don't think it would bother me so much. And if I actually  took the chance to get into the sun while it was here, that wouldn't hurt, either.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Back in the Game

After last night's blog post, I did something I haven't done in a long time: I wrote some fiction. Specifically, I wrote a flash story entitled The Last Leprechaun, about Fearghus from Balor Reborn. It felt good, getting to dive back in the world of Modern Irish Myth. It's the first time a new story has gone on the new website since it went live last Saturday.

I was excited to get it online (after some trouble with my server), and even more excited when the first comment for the website came in, with loads of questions about issues raised in the story. Someone was definitely curious about the state of things from that single story alone, set in 1993, before the events of Balor Reborn. Which is all the more exciting for me, because there's some actual interest in what happens in the book from someone who hasn't read it.

Before the comment even appeared, though, I had drawn up my list of Things To Do, to last until Tuesday. It's simple: blog and poem each day, and pieces of books every day (from a chapter of a novella to a chapter to a short ebook) to the point that each of the books will be complete by Tuesday's end.

It's not a case of "write this book in X amount of days". I just gave myself the task of writing individual chapters on particular days. It's much more easily managed, it's much less daunting, and I think I might actually be able to stick to it.

Which brings the title to mind: I'm back in the game of writing seriously.

I can have these two books completed next week, and a flash story ready to go for Friday next week. And this is just the beginning. I have some writing to catch up on, so I figure if I get into a rhythm of writing a fair bit each day (not even too much for my capabilities, and with no weekday job) I'll be able to get up to scratch on where I should be at this point in my plan.

I figure it helps that I've been writing regularly every day. Despite the weather, and despite the temptation to sit back and relax now that exams are over, I've been producing a blog post and at least one poem every day this month. Simply adding to how much I have to write each day isn't actually a drain on my time; let's be fair, I don't really do much with my time right now.

So, I might have a few days when I just write like crazy. And then play Skyrim and blow people up. But if I do that for long enough, I'll have a fair few books in the barrel ready to be launched. (Does that metaphor work? Let's go with it anyway.) Given the fact that I could, potentially, write a novella in a week (heck, I've done it on several occasions in the past!) I don't think I'm going to task myself too much on this. Balor Reborn was a three-day writing process. As was Stepping Forward. With The Hounds of Hell in the pipeline ( know...barrel...) I think it's fair to say I'll have the series being released on schedule.

Who knows, people might actually really enjoy it.

I know the flash stories help, anyway. While they're all standalone stories, some of them are connected to each other, and others to the main series. And they're fun as heck to write.

I might end up posting a couple every month (but several this month to create a bit of an archive for visitors to until the series is complete (and perhaps even beyond then!). The way I see it, that's over twice as many stories on the site as there are now, and a fairly large collection of free stories. I just have to see if I have that many myths to use, first, without digging into the ones I plan on using for the series.

Sure, we'll see. I'm back to writing, it's not quite terrifying, and I might actually get into it to the point of writing a lot every day until I'm all booked out (which, considering the amount of books I have in mind to write, will take a long, long time). The game is writing, ladies and gentlemen. Are you in?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What Do I Write About?

I'll be honest: even though I know I want to write a blog post today, doesn't mean I have any idea what to write about. This is the biggest problem with trying to write every day when I don't have a plan of any description. I get lost for ideas, not sure what I want to talk about from my day-to-day experiences, and not having much else to talk about.

I've had this same problem with writing poetry this month, too. Yes, I force myself to do it, and yes I'm happy with some of the material I've produced, but overall it's been a case of really, really having to try to just find a topic. Never mind the actual writing part of this. That's the part I can handle.

I think it's actually going to come down to having to draw up a list of topics, both for the blog and the poetry. It's not the most authentic writing experience, but it means I'll be less likely to be stuck for a piece of work. Actually putting together that list is a little bit difficult, of course, because I've already exhausted a great many ideas over the course of this blog. Without writing explicitly about other people, it all boils down to what I can say about a particular topic, or what I can say about what I've been doing since I finished my exams.

But here's the thing: getting back into playing Skyrim and reading Born Weird by Andrew Kaufman are not quite the blogable experiences I'm looking for. (Other things have happened, but that's an entirely different matter.) My life, for the most part, has not been newsworthy since exams ended. Except, you know, for the birth of my new website.

What has effectively happened, though, is that while I've been struggling to come up with something to blog about and taking a holiday after exams and college, I've been getting lazy. I wish I could say I've been writing a huge amount every day, but I'm still very much adapting to life without exams on the horizon.

So, I have nothing to write about, in a very crappy sense.

I want to write. I'm sure I could find lots to say, if I had some sort of direction. I can definitely produce a lot in a relatively short period of time. It's getting to the starting line that's the problem.

What do you reckon? Is there something you want me to write about on this blog? I've got a month to fill, only a couple of suggestions from a friend (the evidence of which I can't even find!), and a mind drawing blank. (I'm going to blame exams.)

To put it simply: What do I write about?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Smell That?

It's Wednesday. You know what that means? New Comic Book Day!

For a long time, I didn't buy comic books. I didn't read them. I didn't know which ones to follow, what I might like. Eventually, I tried my hand at Age of Apocalypse, a series within the X-Men comic books that I'd seen adapted for television and for computer games repeatedly. I couldn't think of anywhere better to start.

But after that, I ventured into DC. The New 52 had started. I figured, if I'm going to follow a series of comic books, starting at issue 1 is the best place. I was disappointed.

Thankfully, Avengers Vs. X-Men was announced to begin last April. After the twelve book series, Marvel Now! took over. Suddenly, I had over a dozen different series to read in Marvel. Adventures into Google revealed the existence of The Wren, an Irish superhero comic book, which then joined the list of series I would follow. Artos, though only in one issue so far, came from the same company. I thought I had my list.

Then, out of nowhere, Half Past Danger showed up. And, Age of Ultron is coming to an end, soon. There's bound to be more to follow. New Comic Book Day gets more and more exciting. Recent conversation with a comic book enthusiast have lined up a couple of series I'm looking to follow once money allows, too (he specifically mentioned Preacher; I'm also hovering about Sandman in anticipation.)

Today, though, things are even more interesting. There's not just new Comic Book Day to add to the fragrences of the house. Today, I baked cookies. Now, not to be boastful, but my cookies are pretty damn amazing. And the recipe isn't mine. But still, always delicious.

We have people coming down, we're getting food, we have snacks, and there's a smell of baking in the air. Smell that? That's the smell of an awesome summer in the making.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

You Will Be Assimilated

Since the rise of Google+, I've been growing increasingly suspicious of Facebook. When it was no longer the only option available for a site of its kind that actually worked well and was popular enough to talk to people on it, it became possible to see past its ugly facade.

People wonder how it makes money. Or, they used to. I think at this point, it's glaringly obvious by their less-than-subtle advertisements posted everywhere, taking up half a screen on a mobile device before you scroll away. But the advertising space is pointless without the actual product of Facebook: us. You might have seen the image going around of the pigs who love their sheltered home and their free food, making it clear: when you're not paying for a product, you are the product.

Facebook has, since entering the stock market, gone through a number of changes. Specifically, I've noticed over the past month or so, it's seeking to get to know its users a little better. Have you seen the new "how your feeling" aspect of status updates? How about films and books popping up with the question to add them to your lists?

Effectively, this is adding to the information Facebook has to point ads more directly at us. The feelings less so, less obviously at least. But the books? The films? The music? It creates a database of what you like that isn't a like page. It allows Facebook to figure out what sort of person you are, what you might like, and with that information they point advertisements at you in the hopes that you click on them. You click, they get paid, they win. You've just been sold to an advertiser.

Between the feelings and the lists, it's clear what's happening: Facebook are becoming the Borg, and we will be assimilated.

(Now that this has degenerated into nerd humour, I think we should finish here... Beware of Facebook!)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Stepping Up a Notch

Back when I made plans for the summer to write all the time, things were simple: I had a job, I had a list of things I wanted to write. Since  then, it's become more complicated. My job is less likely to provide additional income. That's the major upset to the plans. In other areas of life, things have actually improved.

My initial intenton back in March was to just write all the time. Then, the Heart in Mouth competition happened, and I found a greater interest in poetry than I've ever had before. A consequence of this is that in my plans for what I hope to achieve by September's end, I'm looking to submit a few dozen poems in the next four months, along with fiction of various lengths. I plan on entering competitions and submitting to journals and hoping, hoping, that something will pay off. That sort of desire to get my poetry out there didn't really exist two months ago.

A further consequence of this is that I need to be writing a lot more poetry. I have ideas in mind to keep the poetry going, some large projects that need attending to. However, I'm also planning on following an example set by Dave Lordan: write a poem every day. I'm testing that this month, and if it goes well I'll do it again in July. That's 61 poems. I cannot guarantee they'll be any good, mind you; that seems to happen to me without my intending it, though always when I attempt to write a certain type of poem. When I reach in to myself, when I attempt to write about something close to me, that's when I find the heart of my poetry, the emotions needed to create something worth reading, worth experiencing, and the words almost fall into place themselves.

Other factors that have played a part in this are the people I meet. Specifically, in one instance, the friends I've been writing with for the past couple of years in college (more so in the last year) have been driving me towards trying to do better. They inspire a certain confidence in me, and when we get together to read poetry or short stories, I feel like I learn something from every one of them.

They've made me want to pursue old dreams. They'll understand in reading this what I might mean, given the sorts of things we talk about. Grandiose projects in development are making me want to spend a lot more time at my craft, and to reach out to other writers.

Reading particular books has inspired me towards trying to achieve more. One such example, mentioned before, is the 4 Hour Work Week. It's not that I only want to write for four hours of the week, but that I want to have a lifestyle that befits my aspirations. I don't think I could be happy just accepting life as is, falling into place in a job (and worse: one I don't enjoy.)

I want to step it all up a notch, and I know that I have to. That, I think, is why I haven't been working as much as I ought to all the time. I think part of me is afraid of failing if I actually apply myself fully, as if writers aren't meant to be prepared for rejection. You know what, to hell with rejection! It's not really much to be afraid of, in the end. It's an absense of someone seeing your work or your life in the same way you do, or in a way that fits their needs. That is not something I can change, and it's not something I should dwell over.

What I'm saying is, I'm going to try harder to actually stick to my plans. I don't care that I'll be insanely busy and half-mad by the end of it with all the wild characters in my stories getting out. I love it. I love writing, and I want to stop being so afraid to do more of it. I've gone through this sort of stuff too much in the past to just let it happen again, because I know that I only ever feel flustered and deflated and ultimately angry at myself for not putting in even a little bit of work when I should have done.

I'm stepping it up a notch. I'm going to make sure that the past eight years of my life haven't all been to get scared when things start getting serious.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

5 Things We Can Learn From Skyrim

I recently took to playing Skyrim again, and it occurred to me that there are a number of things we can learn from the game about how the conventional genre of Fantasy works. Tonight, I'd like to address 5 Things We Can Learn From Skyrim About Fantasy.

1. Races
Fantasy lends itself to other races. Not always, but often enough that there's an existing idea of the genre in people's heads before they ever read or see a Fantasy novel or film. The Lord of the Rings had humans, elves, dwarves, hobbits, and variations on the above. Skyrim gives us three types of human race, three types of elves, orcs, cat-people, lizard-folk, a bizarre magical creature similar to elves, and the extinct dwarven race. They all go by different names depending on the novel, game, film or television series you're talking about, but in general, Fantasy allows for there to exist a plethora of sentient races.

2. Magic
Think Fantasy, think Magic. Even Game of Thrones has magic, though it comes in rarer doses than what most mainstream Fantasy demonstrates. There aren't any major characters who actively practice Magic in the show, though a few that demonstrate a semblance of magical ability. Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings is part of a wizarding order, and from his first appearance in The Hobbit demonstrates even a basic use of magic. I don't think I need to get in to Harry Potter on the matter of Magic. In Skyrim, we're given a much more basic understanding of magic. Any race can use it (as demonstrated by our ability to choose a character of any race and still throw a fire ball at a bandit), anyone can learn it. It does, however, break itself down into sub-categories, including Destruction Magic (for the standard elemental Magic we see so often: Fire, Ice and Lightning), Restoration Magic, Illusion Magic, and Conjuration, being just a few.

3. Politics
Perhaps the most important thing we need to pay attention to in Skyrim is the politics. In both Elder Scrolls games I've played, Oblivion being the other, the political tension in the world is a major factor into the storyline. It affects the protagonist, we're asked to become involved in it, and it reaches out into the various towns and cities across the Fantasy world no matter how far away from the capital they are. You don't necessarily need a big battle, either. The college at Winterfold in Skyrim is purposely removed from politics - but even the statement of this fact by a member of the college is in reference to the Mage's Guild's political involvement in Oblivion. There are also the little politics of each guild and town, who is in charge, how they reach power, who wants to take them down.

4. Religion
I've always been aware of the religious aspects of these games, probably as a result of the overexposure to religion at college. Looking at it simply, there are four kinds of people in Skyrim: those who don't believe in the gods (the minority), those who do believe in the gods (the majority), those who actively work for the gods (i.e. clergy), and those who worship the Daedric Lords instead. Players are free to do as they wish, though it usually comes down to whether or not you do something for the Daedra or not. (For those who don't play the games, consider them demons, and worship of them akin to worshipping the devil.)

5. Guilds
While the word "guild" is used to describe groups that no longer exist by the time Skyrim begins, the basic idea still exists: characters belong to groups of either mages, warriors for hire, thieves, or assassins. The latter two are typical in Fantasy when a hero is trying to avoid trouble. Terry Pratchett makes use of them in his Discworld novels. There are wizarding schools through the Fantasy genre, too, to the point that we can't ignore the fact that like-minded individuals come together for the building of a craft.

How does this help writers?
A simple focus on these five areas can shed some light on what your Fantasy novel might be missing. This is especially true for those who just dive in without planning (I'll raise my hand to that one - my first novel ever written was a Fantasy novel, though I hadn't fully thought it through before I began writing.) Making appropriate use of the different races that have appeared in Fantasy in the past can enliven your towns and cities. Knowing whether there is Magic, and understanding how it works, makes it much more acceptable for a reader when a character causes a man to freeze with ice coming from this throat. Having political parties - even just a ruling army and a rebellion - appealing for support can drag your character away from their true goal - or closer towards it. Embracing the idea of religion is much more believable for a world than one without any concept of a God, god or gods - a sense of the divine, whether you feel it yourself or not, has been part of human history for thousands of years. Creating groups of magic users or warriors or thieves can help your character find the help and support he or she needs. Parties of diverse characters are part of what has become convention. Even if you choose to then ignore the convention, being aware of it is a good first step.

Of course, there is a sixth thing we have to remember when it comes to Fantasy: have fun! If you, as the writer, or the reader, or the gamer, or the viewer, are not having fun with the genre, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

Writers: play around with how things work in your novel (especially if you haven't actually started writing it yet...which you totally should start doing instead of putting it off.) Make things different. Don't repeat the wizarding order of The Lord of the Rings or the Magic system in the Discworld novels. Don't just mimic the gods of Dungeons and Dragons, or throw out the old Fantasy races for the sake of familiarity. Use your imagination, and show the world something different. And one you've created that, keep with it. Skyrim is the fifth game (minus-extensions) in the Elder Scrolls series, and while it has developed with the processing power of computers, it's stuck to the same world, to the same races, and to similar concepts for how the world works (including Magic and other dimensions.)

There's an awful lot to the Fantasy genre, yes, but Skyrim helps make it all a little bit easier to see how it fits together nicely. All this while shooting people in the head with lightning enchanted arrows. Imagine that.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Month That's In It

This month is an important one for me. It's not that there are any big anniversaries or grand occasions worth celebrating, either. This month is the first month entirely free from having college work to do. And so, I'm taking advantage of it by defining my own life and how I spend it.

Since blogging so regularly in April proved beneficial for both my blog stats and my general ability to write on demand, I'm doing it again this month: every day, one post on this blog. I don't have a list of back-up ideas to work with. I don't have much to go on except for what I do each day. But I do have that: I have the days and what I do.

With that in mind, I can tell you two things that have also begun today: an attempt to write poetry every day for a month, and a new website.

The poetry is fairly simple, actually. I have a tendency to write poetry when I haven't written something on a particular day, so writing a poem every day isn't much different to how things turned out on repeated occasions over the past five months. This is also coming off the back of a poetry writing day(on Thursday) with some friends, for which writing poetry on demand was a necessary requirement to actually doing what I'd wanted to do.

I've already written today's poem, and though I plan to "perform" some of these poems on YouTube throughout the month, for now I'm keeping it quiet. I went for something more personal than I let myself write on Thursday, and I'm still unsure as to how exactly to share it with the world. It's now among over thirty poems I need to type up, too, so it could be a while before it sees the light of day.

The website that launched today is a fairly important one for me: I've pulled my flash fiction across to that site, and set it up so that over the next month or so I can add in some Behind the Scenes posts about the different myths and monsters in the stories. It's the home for the books that are due to pick up rather quickly. Balor Reborn has been out for some time, but between college, my research paper, The Jerry Davidson Show, teaching placement and exams, I haven't actually had a chance to go near The Hounds of Hell, beyond planning it.

That's all changing, and the new website is the start of it. My rather ambitious plan is to release a new book in the Modern Irish Myth series every month until they've all been published, bringing us as far as April 2014.   By May 2014, there will also be four collected editions of the series (books 1-3, 4-6, etc) in print edition, pending finances. It's going to be big, it's going to be exciting, and it's going to be a lot of work. But then, I'm not really doing much else with my time aside from writing like a mad man.

This month will also see the rise of another site, mid-way through, so keep an eye out for that. I'm effectively setting myself up make a full-time job out of this (though how much I earn depends entirely on how many books I sell!). I need to fill up my time with writing, or I'll really be feeling it in September when I don't start lectures again. Some people travel, some work full-time in the same job they've been working for three or four years, and while I'm still in the bookshop, weekends just don't cut it when you have five other days of the week to fill up.

This is the month that gets the ball rolling on a lot of different projects. I hope to see you around when these changes start happening.