Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 31: The Last Month Considered

When I look back at the last month, I see good times and bad. Actually, the "bad" are merely an absence of work. Compared to other times, that's not actually all that bad.

I got to see friends, which was nice. Between an on-stage comedy, dinners, the Zoo and the cinema, I've gotten to see a lot of the people I'm delighted to call my friends, doing things I don't always get the opportunity to do. In previous summers, I don't think I actually squeezed in as many days socialising as I did this month. Somehow, life never worked out that way. I'd like to think of this month as being the template for the next few months, at least.

In terms of work... while I did lose my ticket for the productivity train a while back in terms of The Blood of Leap, I did manage to write a fair few poems this month. I'm lucky that I have that this year. In the past, if I wasn't writing fiction, I wasn't writing. While I didn't submit anything this month in terms of poetry, I do have a list drawn up of where some poems are going. And I entered a competition, which was fun. I don't know when the results are out, but I'm glad to have even submitted something.

In the long run, things are still holding up well. I've written something every day - as this blog can attest to - which means my New Year's Resolution is still in-tact. The habit is getting easier to keep. Best. Resolution. Ever. Seven months in and still going at it.

Of course, I should also be celebrating the publication of The Hounds of Hell, and happy-dancing to the fact that it's sold already.

Next month, I have a lot to focus on. Between a family celebration and some friends leaving, and a possible haunted house excursion on the tables again, I'll definitely have enough to keep me socialising. This is aside from regular things like going to the cinema, and lunches with friends. I could also be releasing a wee ebook, but I still have to write a good chunk of it, and edit it properly. Still, it could be fun.

I've also got my poetry blog to launch. A poetry blog which I might make a poetry and prose blog. I'm thinking of making my website more of a static - but still interactive - place, with other sites hosting stories and poetry entirely on their own. It's a much better system, I think. I can de-clutter my site as a result of that, which is always a good thing.

Who knows, that might launch tomorrow if I get around to it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 30: The One With the Family Meals

While I've all but abandoned Camp NaNoWriMo, I think it's only fair on the start of the month to keep numbering as I began. Day 30 of the month, and I spent a considerable amount of time with family members over meal times.

This might not seem like such a big deal, but with my brother moved out of the house and the remaining four of us working varying hours and often not overlapping, meals in which we all get to sit down together aren't all that common. When my older brother is there, it's an even rarer occurrence. It's not that we don't see him, it's just unusual for all of us to be together at the same time.

While lunch was just McDonalds, for the first time in God knows how long we all sat at the kitchen table and had a cup of tea. Actually, that might be the first time just the five of us sat at the kitchen table and had tea. Normally, only four of the six chairs at the table are accessible without the table being pulled out - which usually means guests over for dinner. Back before my older brother moved out, we didn't sit at the table for tea, and we pulled out the table when everyone was eating at the same time. But we didn't keep it that way.

Today, we pulled out one of the other two chairs. It was oddly comfortable, despite the fact that we've all been together a lot over the past twenty two and half years. I guess I miss that, all of us getting to sit around together with the television off, just talking.

I didn't write today, but I didn't really intend to. I've yet to write a poem, but I'm still on Total Relaxation Mode. I figure I'm allowed to be calm about things every once in a while.

Anyway, I figure it's about time I mentioned here that I intend to start a poetry blog. I'll be writing some stuff specifically for it, and probably doing video readings for it, too. I've still got to set it up, of course, but it's going to happen, and a lot sooner than any of the other projects I have in mind. It'll take a lot less upkeep than the other projects, so I've nothing holding me back with it.

That'll be fun, right?

I'm still trying to decide what platform to hold it on, though. Part of me wants to make it ad-supported, but that would mean (a) using Blogger or (b) buying a domain name for to use a Wordpress site and hosting it on my server.

I'm still arguing with myself over that one. I might not even make it ad-supported, since that wouldn't really bring in much money anyway. I would just be spending money for the sake of it. With the ads out of the way, I pretty much have an open choice on the matter again. But what do you think? Blogger, Wordpress, or Tumblr?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Day 29: Poetry, No Motion

I spent the day writing a bit less poetry than I'd planned to, but watching a lot more Buffy than anyone would consider healthy.

That said, I did write a few poems. I started with one addressing Milton and Dante and their versions of Hell. It was a fun one, but I can't help thinking I'll never escape the Dreaded Research Paper. It doesn't help that I later wrote one about the seven deadly sins.

The day's work also saw poems about relationships creep into existence unexpectedly. I don't think I ever really intend to write those sorts of poems. It requires trying to explain how life works with other people, and I'm not entirely sure I can ever really reach a conclusion about anything that happens. I mean, I can only ever say how I feel about how I perceive things, and that's not an explanation I can rely on.

Aside from that... just Buffy.

Season 4 was fun. Really fun. Between the college experience and the flashbacks, the Big Bad battle, the silence and the wicked dream episode, it definitely caught my attention a lot more this time around.

It did require a lot of not moving today, though. I think I'm okay with that. I got to drink tea, eat a brownie, relax, write the aforementioned poetry, and I was with out worry the whole time.

I could get used to days spent writing poetry all the time. I think I'm better off just letting them happen, though, for the time being. I'm nowhere near the writing-a-poetry-book stage, so I think I'm okay taking it easy.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 28: Silence

Is it weird that two of my favourite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are (1) the episode in which nobody can talk and (2) the episode in which everybody sings?

I just watched the former, and oddly it spoke volumes to me. I wondered about silence, about how we would communicate if we couldn't talk to each other. Go one further and eliminate electronic communication. The written word in printed (or handwritten) format would be our primary means of conveying messages to one another, not just over long distances, but in face-to-face interactions.

That is, of course, if we survive that long without the sounds of our voices in our ears. The show demonstrated a city-wide depression, aggression and numbness from the loss of voices, and I'm not sure how long society would last in the 21st century without electronic communication on top of that silence. (I'm taking that into consideration because the show was set in the 90s, and email wasn't that big a feature of regular life for most people in Sunnydale.)

It's interesting, of course, because we live in an era in which fewer people are writing to each other, and while we encourage people to talk about their feelings, few actually do. Imagine if they couldn't, literally speaking. If people couldn't voice their opinions, how would that change them? Would we all become mindless, or would we be more willing to read what those around have written? Would violence be the first response to anger, rather than a last resort?

I suppose right now, I'm considering this on an emotional level, too. For the first time in a week or so, I haven't felt like I was under any undue pressure. I don't have the book to worry about, I don't have to be concerned about meeting a word count. I can relax. I could relax. And I did. I suppose I still am. I got to eat breakfast with my family and know that the only thing I had to do was get ready for work afterwards. I could eat dinner when I returned home, and afterwards relax on my bed, and then go to watch Buffy with a cup of tea and an ice-cream (I'm not sure they're a pairing that usually go together, ice-cream and tea, but they seemed to work well.)

All in all, the emotional silence of the day was a relief.

To be fair, I did it to myself. No one said I had to write three books in a month. No one forced me to only focus on those books. On top of that, no one has done or said anything wrong to me that might get me unduly upset. All of the emotional noise of the past week has been brought on upon me by myself and my own decisions, and the pressure I applied on myself.

It felt good to get a break from that.

Tomorrow, since I don't appear to have any other plans, I think I'm going to do my Big Bad Poetry Day. It could be fun, it could be productive, and writing poetry has always helped me to deal with whatever's on my mind. Tomorrow, of course, it won't just be a twelve hour catharsis session. I'll probably write poems about nature and friendship and all the usual things people write poetry about. But I have ideas to experiment with, and I'm going in with one goal in mind: to have fun.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day 27: Considerations

Today, something occurred to me: in focusing all my attention on writing the Modern Irish Myth books, they became something I didn't want to focus on. Which, you know, means that I wasn't getting anything done at all. It got to the point that thinking about writing The Blood of Leap was off-putting, rather than just requiring me to turn on my laptop and write. After all, that's what I do when I need to write a blog post (usually), so it's not that much effort. But actively disliking the idea of going to write the book?

No, I couldn't have it.

Writing is supposed to be fun. And I was enjoying writing the book, until a lot of different things came up that required my attention in one form or another. I don't believe in writing a book when it's not enjoyable. I purposely picked a topic for a my research paper that was both interesting in and of itself, and allowed me to look at interesting texts (translation: books, poems, songs, films and television shows - I rock at academia). It meant I wouldn't be put off writing it when I had to. (Even though I went into Major Procrastination Mode and didn't write it for a while.)

But I don't want to force myself to write a book in a bad mood knowing that focusing on it means I can't do anything else. This means two things are happening:

1. I'm going to take more time to write other things, not just the Modern Irish Myth books.

Let's look at this logically: I want to earn from writing. Fiction isn't exactly a goldmine for most writers. Focusing all of my writing time for the next few months on writing fiction means I probably won't make much money from it - one of my self-appointed parameters for success being to make a certain amount from writing generally speaking - unless I become a bestselling author - another parameter for writing success.

Add to this an interest in poetry, teaching, writing non-fiction, writing about writing, and writing other stories, and I've got a problem. If I focus entirely on the Modern Irish Myth books, not only am I less likely to find even minor success (the sort that makes me feel like I'm getting somewhere, but not necessarily the sort that makes me famous), I'm less likely to be happy writing.

Considering the amount of changes my life is going through at the moment, I don't think restricting my options is necessarily a good thing. I want to start freelancing seriously. I want to write more poetry. I want to rediscover a certain sense of self from writing. I want to write more about writing.

To manage this step more plausibly, I need to focus on Thing #2 to happen.

2. I'm revising the publication schedule for the books.

I had intended to release a book a month until the series is complete. This is a fast-track system to releasing eleven books in less than a year, which requires them to be written at a pace of at least one per month. Given my difficulty in focusing on the series with Big Ol' Life getting in the way, you might see the problem that might arise from this commitment. Unless I drive myself absolutely insane and risk hating the books as I write them in an effort to meet my previous writing schedule (to finish writing by October's end), a book a month means trying to focus all  the way through various holidays and events, and assumes my employment situation will remain as disappointingly the same as it is now. (I know, lots of people want and need jobs, but a grand total of 10.6 hours' pay per week isn't exactly enviable.)

Reality check: I want to work more hours. I need to. Not because I want to be Stinking Rich, but because I want to do more with my life than work at the weekends in a shop, arrange lunches with friends every couple of weeks (if I'm lucky), read comic books and go to the cinema. I want to travel. I don't even intend on travelling extensively until I can get myself earning enough to justify the expense. I just want to be able to go on a trip out west, or to London, or go to the Edinburgh Arts Festival. Even these simple things are out of my price range.

From my point of view, that sucks. I'm out of college, but I have next-to-nothing to my name and I'm in no position to improve my life. It just feels like I'm getting dragged along by circumstance.

So, with all of that in mind, the new publication schedule - unless I find it as equally restrictive as the current one - is to release the books every two months. This means that The Blood of Leap is due for release in September, not August. It means that the twelve books will take me to March 2015, not May 2014. A longer wait for the finish, yes, but this has a couple of benefits.

Firstly, I'm under less pressure to write the books in a short period of time, which means I'm less inclined to dislike them. (Much less inclined, in fact.) As a result of that, I'll be able to write better books.

Secondly, I'll be able to write other books in the meantime, and work on other projects, without the pressure to release something new all the time. With the series to keep me going until 2015, I'll be able to get other projects ready for launch. I've even got a couple of stand-alone titles in mind, which may find their way into publication either during the publication cycle, or afterwords (with the latter projections bringing the final run of fourteen titles to September 2015.)

Thirdly, I won't be crowding the market with my own books. I'd be a bit overwhelmed with the selling thing if I was trying to promote the books so heavily all the time until March. Yes, I'll have to promote the books, but at least I won't feel like it's all I'm ever doing if the publication dates are set further apart, and it won't seem like I'm rushing the books into publication for the sake of it. (The truth of the matter is, they're short books, which I can write quickly when I get to writing them; it just wouldn't look that way from the outside.)

All that considered...

I'm calling a halt on my Camp NaNoWriMo intentions. Next week, I'm going to make plans to see a friend. On Monday or Tuesday, whichever is free earliest, I'm going to spend the day writing poetry (which will probably require major Facebook stalkerage for scenic photographs for inspiration). I plan on writing a lot of poems in the day. I'm hoping my brain can manage between 15 and 25 poems - even if they require a lot of editing afterwards - to try get the rush from creativity back. I think it'll be good for me.

Basically, I'm sick of being caught up in life and not doing anything with it. It's time to make a change.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Day 26: Baker, Poet, Cinema Goer

Could I tell you where the day went? I could not. Could I take a guess? Darn tootin'.

I know I spent a lot of time watching Buffy. Again. Season 3 has now been watched, complete with prom and school explosion. I will admit, I got a little bit emotional watching it. Aside from the flashbacks to childhood, it also reminded me of my final year ball. We had less demons.

In the midst of the final episodes of the season, I also put a cover on an old-but-unused-copybook, complete with card on the inside covers, and coloured paper on the outside. I'm using it to track the publication - if any - of my poems. Since May 30th, I've written 70 poems. I'm hoping to do a massive write-a-thon of poetry soon in an effort to increase my creative expression. I'm talking about more than a poem a day; I plan on writing about twenty to twenty four poems in a single day. In my head, it sounds like fun.

Part of me also wants to maintain a poetry blog. So, that might happen soon.

Aside from prom and poetry, I baked some brownies. I'll be brief: they're delicious, and everyone who's had one agrees. I brought some to the cinema. We went to see The Wolverine. How was it you ask?

Well, it was significantly better than Wolverine: Origins. It was better than X-Men: The Last Stand. It was violent, it had swearing, it was better than the trailer suggested it might be. There were a couple of things I didn't like - nit-picky comic book things - but overall it was fun, and the after-credit scene leads on nicely to Days of Future Past, which is going to be awesome.

All of that aside... no writing. I don't know if I'm just lacking enthusiasm to sit down at my laptop, or if I'm just being lazy. It's probably laziness. However, I'm not giving up on the book. I just need to get my head back in the game.

To be honest, I want Camp NaNoWriMo to be over. It's not making me more productive. If anything, it's making me wary of doing anything else. Which is exactly what the exams did to me in May. That's less than convenient. Hopefully I can get The Blood of Leap completed soon, and then I can get on to doing what I want with writing, when I want, without a month-long challenge hanging over my head.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 25: Reunion

I didn't do much writing today. Okay, I did nothing. I hadn't really arranged any time in the day for it to fit in, and didn't use the time I had arranged for other things exactly as planned. There was only one thing I really, really wanted to get done: a reunion.

This involved meeting in the city - at the Spire (where else?) - and going for lunch. Nando's was in order. It was my first time to experience the deliciousness of the ever-growing chain. A few years back, when my family went to Portugal, we acquired a taste for Peri Peri chicken. I haven't had a decent dish since. (My mum tried it didn't work out.) Today, I was entirely satisfied with my food, enough so that I would return.

So that's good.

After dinner, the three of us went shopping. Well, they did most of the shopping. After a few minutes in a gift shop none of us had ever seen before, we ended up in clothing store after clothing store. I didn't really mind, until we ended up in the lingerie section of Penneys.

Let's just be clear: neither myself or my friend buying something for herself were comfortable being there. I was just glad I didn't need to have an opinion on any of it. It kind of helped that we joked about the episode of Father Ted in which the priests found themselves lost in the lingerie section with no way out.

Of course, I dragged them to the comic book shop. It would be rude not to. I was in and out in a matter of minutes - the perks of shopping with someone who knows exactly what he wants and where to get it - and we were off to wander about some more.

We found a couple of overtly religious preachers on our journey through the city, today. One rather large group of young men and women proclaimed their life-changing discovery of God. Somehow, even after four years in God College, none of us were able to listen to much of that. I think we've become slightly alienated from religion at the thought of academia. I'm sure it'll wear off if we don't run into too many preachers in the next few weeks.

What was more troubling was the man claiming the word of God on Henry Street, and turning all psycho-Islamaphobic-bigot on us. Wherever Muslims go they start wars, yadda yadda yadda... as if the US military hasn't been unnecessarily involved in some recent conflicts. As if Hitler wasn't a Christian. As if the British Empire in its quote-unquote glory days weren't devout Christians. When people ignore certain fundamental facts of history to further their hatred, and do so in the name of Christ...well, that makes being a Christian difficult.

Don't get me wrong. I know what it means to be a Christian. It's the people who hear this guy and somehow come to believe that it's about hating on others that I'm worried about. So, here are a couple of truths for you:

- Wars are started by people, sometimes over religion, sometimes over politics, sometimes over wealth, but no one group of people is solely responsible.
- The core message at the heart of Christianity is love, and I'm willing to accept that a lot of people who call themselves Christians can come to forget that, or are intentionally unwilling to see the love of others.

Of course, I didn't bring these things up while wandering about the city. It was much to warm out for that. Instead we walked away muttering to ourselves that he was a nutjob, until more exciting topics for conversation arose.

By the time I arrived home, I had intended on submitting some more work to various journals. That didn't happen. I ended up having dinner and watching more Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Tomorrow, I'm baking. But I'll definitely have to make time to do some writing, do some submitting, and start making plans with friends. Having a social life is fun!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 24: Childhood Obsession Marathon


That's how many episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer I watched today. I couldn't help myself. I only stopped because we were sitting down for dinner, and I decided I needed to do something of relative value today. This was after sleeping in to eleven in the morning. That's late for me. Thankfully, Joss Whedon and tea know how to make everything okay.

When I was a child, I watched this show religiously. My friends and I were obsessed with it. Every week, when the new episodes aired, we would spend all our time out of class talking about it.

We were eleven.

Somehow, the idea that we might be too young for the show never crossed our minds. To us, it was okay to watch a show in which people were hurt and killed or had sex, and we readily accepted the same-sex relationship of Willow and Tara.

Of course, it wasn't the worst thing anyone in the school watched (in terms of how young we were to be watching it.) Plenty of people were watching South Park then, which is clearly and definitively more offensive, less tasteful, more racist and sexist and unsuitable for children than anything else that we laid eyes on.

I think the line, "It's not all like that" got us off the hook more than a few times when our parents walked in on sex scenes. To be fair, that's a true statement. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the original nerd show of the nineties, as far as I was concerned. (That, and Star Trek in its various forms... I watched a few of those, too!) Before my interest in Doctor Who, before Supernatural even existed, there was Buffy.

It was my childhood obsession in the days before we had Internet access, and before HMV closed I managed to buy the entire series boxset for €50. That was money well spent.

Buffy is one of the most influential television programmes of my life. It gave me an interest in the supernatural, it created some amazingly wacky characters, and it stood by a set of values that really stuck with me. Love and friendship and courage were some of the most commendable traits of my youth, and where I could show them I did. I think it's safe to say that Buffy the Vampire Slayer changed my life for the better.

Today's writing may have been limited to a single flash story, but it's one that reflects some of my childhood influences in fiction, the supernatural and horror. These are the roots I need to return to for The Blood of Leap, and as far as I'm concerned my time spent watching 90s television is well spent.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 23: Sick Leave

After a wonderful day yesterday, I woke up at 4am. I was thirsty, I was a bit dizzy, and I needed to get out of my room. I headed down to the kitchen to get a drink, and stayed downstairs feeling like the worst was yet to come. Turns out my instinct was right. Shortly after my mum came down to check on me, I got sick.

I can't really plan for being sick. Worse, I can't plan for the feeling of being exhausted and drained and completely unlike myself. Once again, I didn't get to write. I think I need to re-determine what it is I want to accomplish this month in terms of writing. I reckon if I can at least just finish writing The Blood of Leap I will have done something I can be proud of.

As for today... well, once I was free from the great white phone to God, I sat in the living room with a blanket over me and a glass of Sprite on the table, most of the fizz removed. It seems to be the go-to drink when someone gets sick in this house. I watched a short show on BBC about royal babies, and headed back up to bed.

It was after half seven by the time I fell back asleep, and I woke up at half ten to a phone call from my mum asking how I was. Although I was tired - then, and from that point on - I didn't get sick again. It took a long time to get my appetite back, though.

Since I knew it wouldn't be a good idea to sit in my room all day, I stayed downstairs and watched DVDs. My room is both too hot and too far away from a bathroom to be a good resting place when I don't know if I can keep food down.

Anyway, I ended up watching a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I'd been watching Season 2 a while back, but one particular episode kept freezing on me. I took a guess at where I'd left off, and started with the next episode. And that's how I spent the day, watching the remainder of Season 2.

I'm hoping that tomorrow I can do some work. Mainly, I just want to feel more like myself again. I'll write some poetry, write some fiction, do some reading, and hope that my stomach doesn't bother me again.

I'll leave you now with a quote from Buffy, one that I thought was worth remembering:

“Bottom line is, even if you see 'em coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are.”

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 22: Unexpected Procrastination

Today, I took break from everything.

Some friends and I arranged to go to Dublin Zoo. We met in the afternoon, after picking up bags full of snacks and junk food (okay, it was ALL junk food) before heading in, where we wandered for hours looking at all the animals we'd seen the last time we had each been there. For me, it's been three years since a visit. Not much has changed, though they appear to be minus a lion (which is minus craic) and have changed the rhino, gorrilla and elephant habitats.

Naturally, I had to pay a visit to the red panda. Adorable as always, and sleeping lazily. We also went in search of the sloth. The epitome of the sin, they sat in a box, asleep, one on top of the other.

I think the lazy animals appeal to be because I empathise.

Anyway, I expected that to be my day. I thought we'd go the zoo, eat junk food, maybe go for actual food afterwards, then head home. And things kind of worked out like that. We did get food afterwards. But we didn't head home right away. We ended up going to the cinema.

From animals at the zoo, we went to Monsters University. My love of Pixar knows no bounds.

I can't remember the first film too well, but MU did not disappoint. It was a fantastic film, we weren't the only adults there, there was plenty of fun, and we get the college experience.

The only problem with all of this fun is that I didn't write today. I'm not even upset over that. Everyone has to take holidays every once in a while, and it's been a while since I've actually had a chance to spend a day with friends, mucking about and being tourists. I'd do it again in a heartbeat if it meant getting to see them.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day 21: A Poem for the Day

Today's a day for family. As a result, I won't be around much to write or to tweet or to freak out in celebration of the announcement of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. Instead, I'm leaving you with a poem for the day.

These Are Days

These are days we'll remember,
From January to December,
Days spent with family,
Celebrating merrily.
These are days to sing about,
While pouring drink out
From fancy bottles of wine,
Sitting down together to dine,
And raise a toast to the day
And the people who chose to stay.
These are days to commemorate,
Marked on a calender to mind the date;
These are days for spirits to fly,
Days to share between you and I.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day 20: The Busy Reality of Life

Today's been a busy day. Tomorrow promises to be busier.

I didn't get to write today - I'm not even sure I switched on my laptop - and so my word count is falling behind dreadfully. It's nearing bedtime. For me, that means one thing: tea.

This, of course, to be accompanied by a poem. When I said I didn't write today, I really meant it.

I guess I just have to accept that for the time being, not every day is going to be a writing day.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Day 19: Too Hot to Handle

I'm going to keep this brief, because even though it's half eleven at night, my room is still uncomfortably warm. That said, once I'm done writing this I'm going to get tea. I'm a writer, I'm Irish, deal with it.

Let it be said, the following complaint about the heat is not because of my fair complexion or the ginger in my hair. No, I would be complaining about the sun if that were the case. I'm just uncomfortably hot pretty much all of the time right now, even when I'm indoors, in the shade, with a cold drink.

Productivity levels have fallen to an almighty low. Needless to say, I'm thankful for the "encouragement" I had to write and post the flash stories this week, or I might not have written a single word. If this heat keeps up, I probably won't finish writing The Blood of Leap until August.

Yes, it's looking like I won't reach my Camp NaNoWriMo target. To be fair, I set it expecting an Irish summer. We usually get temperatures in the late teens, three days max if we're lucky, and separated by at least as many days ridiculously chilled, cloudy or raining (though the rain usually comes when there's clouds.) I expected to be indoors and trying to keep warm. Or at least not looking for the coldest room in the house. (Downstairs toilet, in case you're wondering. Pity it's not exactly office material. Nowhere for a laptop.)

That said, I do intend to keep working on. My aim all along has been to write the books, and write them I shall. Next week, if this heat persists, I'll move the laptoparoonie down to the kitchen again on a daily basis.

Anyway, I did do some writing today. The latest flash story. Entitled Helping Hand, it's the last of the four stories that celebrates the release of The Hounds of Hell by filling in the gaps in "normal" people's lives since the events of Balor Reborn. While one story is set after The Hounds of Hell, the others are all beforehand. Today's story actually takes place during the same time-frame as Balor Reborn, which was fun, and addresses a missing element a friend of mine pointed out.

You can read it here:

Tomorrow, I've got a lot of other business to attend to, but you know I'll still be blogging. In the meantime, we're into the last eight hours or so of the giveaway of Balor Reborn and Old Gods Returned. You can find the obligatory links below. I hope you enjoy the read.


Balor Reborn (US/IRL):
Balor Reborn (UK):

Old Gods Returned (US/IRL):
Old Gods Returned (UK):

You can also buy The Hounds of Hell at either of the links below:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 18: How Could I Forget?

Would you believe I was forgetting to blog today?

Well, it's true. I've spent the past few hours doing some planning work - not on books, but on my life - and I paid my grandad a visit. I was getting ready to go to bed, and well, this happened.

I'm going to be brief: the only writing I did today was the flash fiction story, Love Talker. It was fun. It has sex mentioned in it. It's in the aftermath of Balor Reborn, like the others stories have thus-far been. And did I mention the sex?

It's also a fun way of looking at another Irish fairy. Irish fairies were interesting.

You know what else was interesting? Coppers Uncovered. I went to see it last night, because I'd heard good things and I knew 1/8th of the cast. I brought a friend, we laughed, we had a beer - turns out I don't dislike beer - and we laughed some more. In a shockingly accurate portrayal of Irish courting habits, the play was a delight and a wonder, and I recommend everyone go see it before the current run ends this Saturday.

You can get tickets here:,+Ireland

I really recommend that you do.

Anyway, last night also gave me a chance to talk to the aforementioned friend that I brought, and I forced him to have a home-made cookie. The usual look of shocked approval appeared on his face. Job done.

One of those same cookies was my breakfast this morning, with a cuppa. Sure it would be rude not to.

But I can't just leave it there, can I? I can't just tease you with a cookie and a cup of tea. So, I'll leave you with some advice that had been written onto a folder I was using in first year, and that somehow managed to fit into whatever bag I was using at the time:

Good night, ladies and gentlemen!

P.S. Here's the obligatory reminder of the free books that I have to keep pointing out to people - rude not to, etc. etc.

Balor Reborn (US/IRL):
Balor Reborn (UK):

Old Gods Returned (US/IRL):
Old Gods Returned (UK):

You can also buy The Hounds of Hell at either of the links below:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 17: Free Books?

For a while now, I've been contemplating doing something. Today, it finally happened: I made Balor Reborn and Old Gods Returned free for a short period of time. And that is the little extra surprise I had in mind to begin yesterday, but that didn't work out because The Hounds of Hell wasn't available.

So, yes, two free books. I'm actually kind of a delighted to have done it. It adds to the number of stories I'm making available to read for free this week, with seven flash stories in Old Gods Returned, four released through the Modern Irish Myth website, and the whole novella that is Balor Reborn. I've terribly excited.

Today's flash story was a fun one to write, because it focuses on a character who's first introduced in The Hounds of Hell, right after the events of Balor Reborn. There's about a week between the two books, so I thought it would be fun to play around with things a bit. I'm wondering who the first person will be to notice it who isn't my beta reader.

Anyway, you can find the story here:

I also did some baking this afternoon. I've been wanting to bake for a while, and now that I have plans to see someone who hasn't tasted by cookies yet, I had the perfect excuse. I had one already, and it made me happy to have made it. Batch success!

(On a side note...I like oven gloves. Not because you can protect your hands while taking trays of cookies out of the oven, but because you can give yourself a high-five wearing them if they're the kind that are stuck together. That was fun way to pass a few seconds while I waited for the timer to go off for the cookies!)

I have to do a fair bit of writing tonight, but I'll deal with that later. I have to have dinner first, before going out, and food kind of takes priority when I'm not going to be home for a few hours. I don't want my stomach complaining later. Kind of going to a play, and that would be awkward.

Anyway, you want the links to the books, right? I'll just throw them down below for you. Peace out!

Balor Reborn (US/IRL):
Balor Reborn (UK):

Old Gods Returned (US/IRL):
Old Gods Returned (UK):

You can also buy The Hounds of Hell at either of the links below:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day 16: The One with the Publication

Publication day was fun. I had to add in a couple of things to the file before uploading to Amazon, but it's finally done: The Hounds of Hell has been published!

I had planned to do a couple of things for publication day, but that didn't quite work out the way I wanted to. I'd forgotten that the actual publication process took a while when using Amazon, so it wasn't until a few hours ago (and much later into the day) that the book was actually available for purchase. Anyway, I've sorted those little extras out for tomorrow. (So keep an eye on the social media sites!)

In the meantime, I kept to one of my plans: I released a new flash story! Entitled The Poet and the Bride, it's available to read on the Modern Irish Myth site here:

I have three more planned that I need to write that will be going live over the next three days. I think it's a fun way to celebrate the release of a book, to publish a few short stories for people to enjoy for free. Naturally, I had to start with Ogma. He's probably my favourite character to write about in the series.

The writing today hasn't even begun, unless you count the flash story. I should count that, right?

Anyway, I'll be getting on to that. In the meantime, you can check out the little details about The Hounds of Hell below.

Dogs are going wild in Galway, unable to be killed. Gathering around a black hound, they put Ireland at risk.

In the aftermath of Balor’s attack on Dublin City, Fionn Murray and Michael Curran travel back to Fionn’s hometown in Galway, to visit his sickly parents. With the help of his childhood friend, Emily Shanahan, Fionn hopes to nurse his parents back to health. At the same time, he hopes to find some answers about his birth parents.

With the local hospital filling up with victims of dog attacks, and a superhuman neighbour to deal with, Ireland’s chosen hero has another evil to stand up to. The hounds of hell are on the roam, and no one living is safe.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Day 15: Eep

I'm not going to lie, part of me is terrified about tomorrow. That part of me is ignoring the book I'd been editing. The Hounds of Hell is coming out!

It's been a fun experience to write the book, but I can't wait for it to be released into the wild, and for the publication party to begin with it. With that said, though, I still have to write tomorrow's flash story.

I'm kind of behind on this, to be honest, but I think it'll be fine. Flash stories are, by their very nature, short. I enjoy writing them. I chose a fun one to start with. In the words of my people, be grand sure.

Today, I was in full editing mode, though. No writing. Yet. As soon as everything's ready for tomorrow, I'll get something done, I hope. Though, I think by then it'll be a bit late. It means I'll be writing a lot tomorrow, between all the fun publication stuff. Expect tweets. Expect Literary Stand-Up. Expect me to be super excited.

And expect tea. Lots of tea.

I would probably be more prepared for the launch if I hadn't been in work today. I was essentially a robot for my shift, grabbing books with stickers belonging to the old shop, and putting new ones on. Okay, mis-representation: we're the same shop, and the same company, but we're a franchise. And the change-over is a nightmare. I officially hate stickers. Especially our old €8.99 stickers. They put up a fight.

Anyway, a full day's work slowed me down in the writing department. I'm not complaining, though. I could use the money for the day in it. Even writers have to eat and buy comic books.

So, yes, blathering on now... I have work to do. And excitement to contain. Eep!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Day 14: Late Start, Awesome Result

Today, it took me some time to actually get to writing. Not to worry, though, because I managed to write over 2,400 words tonight. This has brought me through chapter four of The Blood of Leap, in a second day of writing quite a bit, and has resulted in the second change of plans.

This is a direct result of not planning enough content for the books, but also seeing an opportunity to dedicate chapter four to something special. It's shorter than most chapters in the book, but the most significant chapter in terms of world building and plot development for the series, with the possible exception of the final chapter if memory serves.

I still only have two more chapters planned in the book, though, which means I may be facing some word count troubled in the near future. I need to write at least 12,000 words the next two chapters.

Can you see my problem?

There just isn't enough in the plan to make that happen. Yet. Reading over my plan as I began writing this, I noticed a couple of areas I could expand upon. One of them is going to be sweet and gentle, albeit slightly creepy. The other is going to be much bloodier.

With a title like the one I have, is that really a surprise?

Even still, I worry that I won't have enough to go with. It's a good thing I have a month until I actually planned on publishing it, but haven't actually announced an official release date. I get to finish the book before I do that, I reckon. That's something I plan on doing this month, anyway.

Still, I'm quite happy with how the book is turning out so far. I think I might need to go back over some notes I have for the book, though, to make sure I really tell the story I've been wanting to.

Tomorrow, though, I'll have to focus on the final edits for The Hounds of Hell, to make sure the book is ready for Tuesday. I also need to write the first flash fiction story, format the book, and get things ready for the publication. I'm lucky I'm not working on Tuesday to get a lot of this managed, and to get back to writing The Blood of Leap.

This is a fun month. Hashtag stress, wha'?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Day 13: Surprise!

Every day when I wake up, I check my Amazon sales. It's become a habit, since the free promo days ran earlier in the year and Planning Before Writing actually began to sell. It's gotten to the point where if it sells even a couple of copies overnight, it'll reach a Top 100 position in a sub-category most of the time. In seeing that it had, in fact, done that, I went to the Amazon page to see where it ranked. I didn't expect much.

I expected, much less, to see a review there from May that hadn't been there when I saw the review from June. When I received the June review, a 3-Star review (which isn't bad), I wasn't exactly over the moon. I think I was mainly put down by the star-rating, because I didn't see how it was justified. But then, I was being a bit biased. But it was the only review visible. I literally could not see another review on the page. There was only one.

This morning, two.

I looked at the second. I read the date. I got confused. Then I completely ignored the fact that Amazon hid a review from me for two months to look at the star-rating. The reviewer thought that the ideas in the book were so worth reading that she gave it 5 stars. 5!

I was shocked. I wanted to happy dance all over the house. My brain was too tired to process that sort of movement, though, so I just let myself get giddy. I pretty much stayed that way all day. It was an awesome surprise to wake up to. It was a justification of the work I put into the book, and the sort of mind-set I was in when I wrote it; I was in Teacher Mode, and I knew what I was talking about. I had to, during class, for the sake of my pupils, and for those four weeks that carried through into my writing. And someone acknowledged that something I wrote had some value beyond just the price-tag.

See, that's the thing about reviews. A good review doesn't just say "I was willing to spend to the money to buy this book". It also says "I think this book is worth reading", and sometimes you might even add "Buy this book, even if you're put off by the price". My book is only 99 cent USD, so I'm not sure that really applies in my case, but you get the point - a good review says something about the value of the content, not just about the price of the book as an object or file.

So, that was awesome.

I was then able to arrange to get to go see a play starring one of my very bestest friends in the whole wide world, the ever-lovely Clara McQuaid. She was the lead in my first play-to-the-stage The Rest is Silence, she ran Drama Soc last year (and happened to be chosen by two directors to be leads in two productions during the year) and in the short space of time that I've known her, she's managed to go from being nervous she couldn't do a character justice to having her first professional job as a stage actor. And, well, that's just brilliant. I didn't think, after seeing her in The Rest is Silence, that I could ever be more proud of her, but I was wrong.

I've got the play to look forward to during the week, tickets already bought. It's looking to be a fantastic show (and lots of people are talking about it!).

Oh, and as for the writing... 1,000 words done tonight, but I intend on staying up a bit longer to keep working. Just as soon as I grab more tea.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 12: The Day That Disappeared

A few things happened today, and in the interest of writing once this is done, I'll keep this post short. Most significantly, though: I can't really figure out where the time went today, but it wasn't spent writing.

I woke up late. That always sucks.

I ate breakfast, I had tea, I played Skyrim briefly before a lunch-time dinner. And then I draw a blank.

Actually, that's not entirely true. I planned a couple of things, neither of which were stories. One is a budget that needs regular updating. I'm going to stick to it rigidly. Weird as it sounds, I'd like to be prepared for Christmas this year. And I want to go to London at some point, too, so I'll need money for that.

The other thing was a list, a schedule. I have a lot of books on business and personal development, and I've decided that from Monday onwards I'm going to start reading them, a chapter a day. I'll make notes, I'll do the tasks the books set, and I'll ensure I educate myself in a few different areas.

I also let some ideas wander around in my head, one of which is for a book, the other of which is for a kind of business-y project. I still need to work out the details on each, though they're looking to be fun. I have a feeling, based on my projections for writing, that I'll be able to write the book in January. That may also be when I get to start with the other project, unless I work a lot quicker at it than I originally intend. (That's probably what's going to happen, once I get myself back on track again.)

In short, though I can't really recall doing much today, I seem to have made long-term plans for finance, reading, writing and working. And the heat has kicked my ass again, today, making me sleepy already. Tonight's target: 1,000 words.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 11: Room Changes

Today, I spent most of my time in my bedroom. Unfortunately, my laptop was in the kitchen, so you can bet I wasn't writing. Instead, I was rearranging my room for the first time since I moved up there in January 2012.

My bed has been moved so that I'm looking at the skylight, which freed up a lot of space elsewhere. I lost floor space, but I don't really use my floor for anything other than an Unofficial Dumping Ground. So that's not going to happen as much or as easily anymore. There's also talk of getting a new bookshelf in there, so that'll solve the problem of space.

Fun, right?

Well, yes and no. I'm glad the room is being changed around. I'm glad to be having more space. I just wish we hadn't been in the middle of a heat wave when I had to do it. (It was do it myself or attempt to do it with my mum trying to help; my room was barely big enough in terms of head space for me to have done it. I could not have rotated the bed with her also there, and it wouldn't have made actually moving furniture any easier. So, I waited until she was out of the house to do it, and she got to go out in the sun when she got home instead of baking in the attic. I stayed there to continue cleaning and moving things that weren't my bed.)

Aside from the heat, there was also the problem of not writing. As I'm sure you might have guessed, that's not fun for someone who's behind on his word count.

End result: I need to write five and half thousand words tomorrow to stick to my 2K-per-day (as an average) rule. First thing in the morning, I'm making space on my desk. Second thing, I'm moving my laptop upstairs. Then I'll be setting myself targets for every half hour until I've reached my target.

Considering I can write pretty quickly, I think I might be able to get this done before dinner time (unless dinner time is lunch time, in which case, later than that.) After that, I'm one massive step into The Blood of Leap. However, even at this stage in the book, I can see I'm going to have some length-trouble again. I can also foresee a remedy for that, which doesn't involve adding a chunk to the end of the book. This is actually utilizing something already in the plan, not something I missed.

I'm actually kind of excited about that, because it's a way to introduce something more fully that I'd wanted to write about for a long time. So that's fun. I think I actually thought about it while cleaning my room.

Anyway, that's happened. I like when these books surprise me. The plans for The Hounds of Hell and The Blood of Leap have been written for a long time, so I haven't really had a chance to consider them up until recently. I didn't think about what was missing or if there was enough detail. I wrote the plans, and then I intended to write the books. That was around...May? (I'm just going to go check an email...) Nope, not May. March. I wrote the plan in March.

So, I'm getting surprised quite a bit. It's kind of a "Why didn't I do this?" kind of feeling. Which is where I'm going back to the bedroom, at that little tangent, to something else I wondered why I didn't do before: start saving coins in my jar again.

You might recall (unless you're new here - hello!) that last September, I was saving for a tablet. I was putting money in a jar every week, pouring every coin I had in my wallet inside. I had a goal.

For some reason, even though I've been quote-unquote saving for a camera, I haven't actually been saving. My bank account has gone down frequently. I've spent money because I had it (though that's not to say I've had a lot.) But I wasn't saving anything, and I wasn't getting any closer to my camera. So, I put about €19 in there today in coins that I had laying around.

Take that savings jar. Take it and like it.

Now, it'll take a while to save the money I need for a camera like that, so obviously I'm going to have to start budgeting my money properly again. (Yuck.) But it's a case of putting €20 aside every week. Given the fact that most of my friends work so we rarely get to meet up, it's actually fairly easy to not spend money, if I just gave that a shot every once in a while.

The most I ever spend on comic books in a week is €20. That might seem like a lot, but that's when everything seems to come out all at the same time. I also go to the cinema, and if I stopped buying sweets (okay, chocolate) not only would I be doing my health some good, I'd save a few euro per week. It would only cost me €10 per visit (and that's also a chance to see friends, so yay for a social life!) In terms of books... not to sound like my mum, but I have enough of them to last me a while.

Okay, even I can't believe I won't buy books. But let's look at it this way: three books I've wanted for a long time are on their way to my house because I had money on an O2 card and wanted to clear it off so I would no longer be under any hold by it. And I have the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy to read. And Game of Thrones. (Just the first book in that series...but also the fourth paperback... long story.) But I have a lot of books I want to read, and as near as I can tell, there isn't much coming out soon that I want to read. (Okay, so Darren Shan's Zom-B series has a new book every few months... shut up. And Roddy Doyle is releasing The Guts and that has Jimmy Rabbitte Jnr in it and I want to read it and shut up... I'm talking to myself here.)

Even still, I'm not exactly rolling in the money. But I do have some put aside to finally sort out the Things I need to clear my taxation with the IRS and finally start receiving money from Amazon. And there's actually money there. Though, and this is the real kick in the teeth, it'll take a while for me to get it. The IRS will take about 8 weeks to process my forms. Effectively two months. Amazon can take up to 60 days to send me a payment. Another two months. By that calculation, I'll have the first royalty check in time for Christmas presents. While that's not putting me any closer to owning a camera now, it's finally clearing me up to earn money from my books. Even if it takes a while to get to me.

This started with room changes and barely spoke about the book... um...

Okay, so NaNoWriMo is fun, and all that, but I can really understand how life starts getting in the way of it, even when you don't seem to have much to do. From the outside looking in, I have five days off per week and no other commitments. And yet, I've been finding it difficult to actually get to my laptop to write. (Incidentally, once I actually get to my laptop, I've been quicker this month at actually getting to work than I have been for the last eleven months, so that hasn't been a problem.) I just happen to have a lot going on in life that I don't talk about online, but it takes up a lot of time in my day. The room change is part of that.

I've been cleaning it for a while now, sorting through notes, finding things I thought I'd lost forever (like, thrown out completely) and generally getting stuck doing it for hours, because there's a lot of stuff that needs going through from the past four years. A lot of stuff was just moved up to the attic without me looking at first when I moved up there, and I haven't paid this much attention to all that sort of stuff since. Yes, in a year and a half I haven't done a clear-out of stuff. That's because I've mostly considered the stuff that's been thrown out recently to be important for college. (As it happens, a lot of it wasn't. It met the recycling bin. It was magical.)

This has gone on too long, hasn't it? Anyway, the short version of this is: I didn't write nearly as much as I wanted to today, so I get to pay for it tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day 10: Procrastination

I find that with one of three books written this month, I've begun procrastinating a lot more. Fun, right? Not for my word count. The exact level of progress on The Blood of Leap is... non-existent.

However, I did manage to finally upload the trailer for The Hounds of Hell!

It's a thing, now. I can be happy about that. I can also finally stop focusing on that aspect of the book and start focusing on other aspects of next week, including:

1. The flash stories I want to publish next week.
2. The publication of The Hounds of Hell.
3. The completion of The Blood of Leap.

Yeah, that has to happen, and soon. I think tomorrow, in between the make-over of my bedroom and the occasional descent into madness, I need to write a lot. An awful lot. Thankfully I have no social life to speak of for tomorrow, or for Friday (most of the day, anyway), so I can work on getting a lot of the book written in the next couple of days.

If things go my way, I hope to have 10,000 words written by the time I leave for the cinema on Friday night. That's a bit ambitious, but I'm going to make a start on the writing tonight. This is partially to avoid going near my room, which I have reason to believe is still a furnace. (I learned from yesterday not to spend all my time in my bedroom, and commandeered the kitchen.)

I imagine I'll have approximately three hours to write tomorrow, not including blogging time. That's the potential for 4,000 words, I think. Which means, by those calculations, I'll be writing for a bit over five hours on Friday. Thankfully, writing is fun. Even if going out and buying comic books, and making trailers, and drinking a ridiculous amount of water, is also fun. (Wait, drinking water isn't fun... I just needed to survive this unbearable heat.)

So, there's that. Me being behind, me planning on catching up, me going insane, possibly being over-hydrated and bound to face the consequences tonight... good times, am I right?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day 9: Blame it on the Sunshine

Today, I had good intentions of writing a chunk of The Blood of Leap. This was to accompany today's task of getting the book trailer online. Unfortunately, neither thing happened.

As it happens, while sunny weather has a tendency to bring about storms - which can knock out power - the heat can also cause machines to slow down to the point of being useless. This is especially true when working in the attic. My bedroom is a sauna, and my laptop doesn't appreciate it very much. Though I admittedly spent quite a long time doing the artwork for the book trailer, putting the finishing touches on them on my laptop proved nearly impossible.

Most of the work is done, but the last bit, that I'm not even sure I'm sticking with, needs a tiny bit more attention. If it wasn't taking half an hour for the laptop to do anything, I'd have it all done, by now. Long story short, with this weather it's going to be difficult to finish up.

I'll have to bring my laptop down to the kitchen tomorrow to actually finish up, and to do some work, because I don't think either it or I can handle my room another day, even with every window in the house open. Heat rises, and it can't get out quickly enough. The end result: Paul roasts alive. The end.

I had hoped that by the time I finished up with the last image, I could write some of the book. Unfortunately, my laptop is giving up on me. Writing on it tonight is not going to happen. I've resorted to using my tablet to write this post, but it's much more difficult to do so, and to keep track of how much or how little I'm actually saying. I usually leave this for when I'm too tired to turn on my laptop to write a blog post.

Tomorrow, I'll try get done what I had initially set out to do: write a lot of the book, and upload the trailer. Since it's also New Comic Book Day, I'll be heading out early to ensure I get home early. If I manage 3,500 words, I'll be happy. It'll keep me on par with where I need to be with Camp NaNoWriMo, and it'll take a chunk out of the book. It's about four hours' work, though, if I'm calculating that correctly - and I'm probably underestimating myself - but I think I can manage it. The main priority is the trailer, though.

Right now, it's all just good intentions. The weather could very well kill my laptop again, and with it my progress. Time will tell, but hopefully I don't have a repeat of today on my hands.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Day 8: Basically Winning at Life

This morning, I slept in.

So much for that schedule, right? There's no way I could write even close to my goal, right? Wrong. Even waking up late, I wrote over 4,300 words before lunch. Admittedly, I haven't written anything since, but here's the important part:

I finished writing The Hounds of Hell.

When I get back to writing, I get to start The Blood of Leap. Here's the thing about that book: I've wanted to write it since August 2012. I stayed overnight in the very castle in which the book is set. In my head, I've mapped every detail. In the plan, I've planned a massive shift in the series.

Getting this far is a big deal for me, not just because I've been wanting to write the series for a long time and had to jump over a few hurdles to get back to writing it (hurdles in the form of: teaching in September, having to hand in a Research Paper, having to write a direct a short Christmas play, January teaching placement, double the workload in college for the second semester, exams, and PEMF - a definition for which you'll need to go back to 2010 for), but because in the minor scale of Camp NaNoWriMo and my aim to write three books in 31 days (though, that includes a 5,000 word head start on The Hounds of Hell), I'm actually a day ahead of where I planned to be.

Am I sacrificing life for this? No.

While I've spent the day indoors because I can't stand the heat - never mind the sun - I've got plans this evening to see friends and eat pizza. We've passed our exams, and though I've seen college friends and celebrated that fact with them (though for me, those celebrations were at a friend's birthday party), I haven't actually celebrated with my secondary school friends.

So, I'm doing that today.

(Side note: damn it's hot.)

Anyway, right now I'm contemplating whether I should start writing The Blood of Leap now, or if I should work on the artwork for the trailer for The Hounds of Hell. I'm not sure how difficult it's going to be, just yet.

I think that actually decides it for me, doesn't it? I'm a day ahead on the book, but I have next to nothing done for the book trailer which is due to be released tomorrow. Head in the game, Paul, yeah?

So, I've decided that because I'm writing a lot, and I'm still seeing friends, and I'm happy and I'm working, I basically win at life at the moment. All I need to make that official is a bank statement that says "I told you so" and an official Winning At Life certificate from someone in a position of power, like Michael D or Jesus or Spiderman.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Day 7: Family Things

While I didn't reach my word count target for today, I'm not actually that fussed. In the morning, my family spent time together over breakfast, and when I got home from work, we spent time together again. I've still completed a chapter, and I've gotten over 1,100 words written for the day. It's not 2,000, and I'm not caught up, but I have a plan.

This might involve not really talking to people much tomorrow. Such is life. But here goes:

Wake at eight. Immediately shower, have breakfast, and do all those sorts of things that can hinder a day.

At twenty to nine, I write for fifty minutes, roughly. My target: 800 words.

Every hour for the next three hours, I have a target of 950 words. By lunch time, I'll have over 3600 words written for the day.

At half twelve, I record the audio track for the trailer. I'm giving myself half an hour to do this. I'll probably edit out the hiss of the microphone and the sounds of breathing while I'm at it.

I'll then take a forty minute break, for lunch.

The next fifty minutes, I'll have another target of 800 words. Every hour following, until half four, I'll have a target of 950 words. By the end of that, I should have 6350 words added to my total, which should be more than enough to complete the book. I'll be trying to avoid the Internet in all of this time, but I'll probably pop in to tweet whether I've reached word count targets.

At half four, I'll blog about the day. When I'm done, I'll be leaving for dinner with friends from secondary school to celebrate us all having completed exams. I don't know when I'll be home.

I think it's a fairly good plan, and it'll see me not only catching up on Camp NaNoWriMo, it should ensure The Hounds of Hell sees its completion. This means I can start The Blood of Leap a day early, which takes the pressure off when Tuesday comes around. I'll need to do a fair bit of artwork, then, so I don't really want any delays.

Basically, with my plan tomorrow, I can win at life a bit.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Day 6: Not Enough Time for Tea

I lost six hours today, between leaving for work and getting home from a couple of supermarkets with my dad. The actual four hour shift in work was okay, if not boring, with a ton of de-stickering going on in our move to a franchise. It was mind-numbing.

It doesn't help that (a) I woke up early but felt exhausted, (b) I couldn't sleep last night until I felt I wasn't going to need to use the toilet again and (c) I went to the cinema tonight. Friday is normally my cinema night. Now, at half ten, I've had my day split up twice and I haven't written nearly as much as I need to.

And I just don't have enough time for tea. As it is my eyes are begging me to go to bed. It's not even a screen ting. Being open is bad enough. I'm writing this with my eyes closed for the most part, checking back for typos and errors and all that sort of nonsense, and just hoping there aren't too many of them to make the task difficult.

Having written less than 600 words today, it's clear that I either have to write a lot more tomorrow, or I have to stay up later than I really can manage.

I think I'm going to head to bed, soon, rather than stay up for the sake of attempting another 1400 words. Even if I could write the chapter with my eyes closed, I don't fancy sitting here doing so. I like to know what to write based on what I've already written, trying to achieve a bit of a balance between narrative and dialogue, and that's difficult when I can't re-read everything I've written, on account of my eyes being closed.

First world problems?

Anyway, tomorrow will be different, I think. I'll at least have a regular Sunday. I can wake up earlier than usual if I go to bed soonish, and that should give me time to write some of the catch up, and get me back on track to finish - hopefully - by Tuesday.

As it stands, I'm at 10712 words on Camp NaNoWriMo, and about 5,000 words over that in the book. It's reached it's minimum length to be considered a novella, and of course I still have a couple more chapters to go. Doing the maths in the my head, if I catch up over the next couple of days on top of my regular 2,000 words per day, the first draft will be finished by my schedule.

This leaves me with 22 days to write both of the other books. Sharing 44,000 words between them, I think I'll be reaching for more than 62,000 words overall in the month to ensure all three novellas are completed. (I've also got the little extras to throw in at the end of each, and should begin paying some attention to that, I think.)

Anyway, there's my excuse for not writing much today. I think resting eyes that are tired to the point of being sore is probably a good call, though. I'll still bring a cup of tea to bed.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Day 5: Publication Preparations

Today, I did two things: I reached 3,000 words in The Hounds of Hell, and I drew up a list for everything I needed to do for the publication and promotion of the book, before and after its release. Be warned: this post might read as a wee bit Official. I apologise for the seriousness in advance. Normal insanity will resume in the future, probably.

The first thing I need to do is create a book trailer. Last year, Balor Reborn's trailer had to be limited to things I could find online that people didn't have to hear until they went into the trailer. Otherwise, there'd be spoilers. Couldn't have that now, could we? Even if it was just a trailer, it was a piece of content in and of itself.

This time around, I have the freedom of not being on camera all day. This not only allows me to take the writing process a little bit slower, it allows me to muck about with the trailer a bit more. My plan is to:

1. Record some audio. I have a script for this, and while I'm not sure my own voice is suitable for this, I can always edit it a bit. I just have to remember to speak slowly. As I'm sure you know - if you know me, or if you've ever watched me on YouTube - I have a habit of speaking quickly. Very quickly.

Thankfully, Audacity (it's free, and I recommend it) allows me to (a) change the speed of the record (look at me using all the technical words...) and (b) change the pitch of the volume. I can make my voice deeper and slower. I can't do away with how I sound, exactly, but I can at least make a difference so it doesn't sound exactly like me on the video.

After the audio is recorded, I need to:

2. Find suitable music. Thankfully, I know a place to get royalty free music for this, for free. As a poor writer, this is beneficial for me. The music needs to fit the trailer, and needs to sound good even when I lower the volume so I can be heard talking.


3. Create images for the video. I'm thinking Celtic artwork. I'll be "hand drawing" it all, using my tablet. I hope. If not, I'll think up something else, but I'd like to have some interesting artwork in there and be able to say that I did it.

That's all preparations for the video, which needs to be uploaded by Tuesday 9th. But that's not all I have to do. When the book is released, I plan on accompanying it with four flash stories. I'm not going to reveal what myths they relate to, but I can confirm this: they have no yet been written.

Fun, right? There will be one every day from the Tuesday to the Friday, taking place at various times. This effectively gives me a week from the date the trailer goes live to:

1. Write four flash stories.

2. Edit the book.

3. Format the book.

4. Write most of The Blood of Leap.

Even when I finish the book, I'll still have Camp NaNoWriMo to keep up with. I'm possibly going to be working like a mad thing on this series, but it'll be worth it in the long run. I figure, if I can get ahead of myself with trailers and stories and editing and formatting, the process of publication will be easier in the future. Plus, if I publish four flash stories every time I release a book - or just release one a week between books - I'll have a huge collection of stories on the Modern Irish Myth site by the time the final book is published.

Oh, but just for the record: the book has reached the 15,000 word mark, and my Camp NaNoWriMo word count has gone over 10,000 words. I've officially caught up with myself, after only writing 800 words yesterday.

Somehow, I don't think productivity is a problem for me right now.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Day 4: Uh Oh

I'm not making excuses for having not written today...but that's what it's going to seem like for a while as I tell you why I haven't written today.

It boils down to three things:

1. I was cleaning my room this morning. It took longer than I thought to do less than I'd have hoped.

2. I was out with friends celebrating one of their birthdays. This had me out of the house for eight hours or so. We went to the cinema, we grabbed some dinner, and I went home afterwards. I didn't delay, but I was still out for eight hours, thanks to the buses.

3. I was tired.

Actually, number three should really read as such: I am tired. This is still a reality. But here's why I'm not making excuses despite what you just read or skimmed over:

I plan on writing tonight, until my eyes hate me for still being awake. They're getting there already, though, so I very much doubt I'll reach 2,000 words tonight. The only reason I'm writing this blog post first is because I suspect I'll be up past midnight writing, and I don't want to miss blogging every day this month.

Dilemma, though: I haven't done anything for FUFDay. Yet. It's a little too late to record and edit and publish a YouTube video, so that's out of the question, but I can do something, something I hinted explicitly at yesterday. I can announce a release date for the book.

Ordinarily, I would wait until the book is finished before doing that, but since I didn't do that with Balor Reborn either, I think I'm safe in doing it again. As it's Camp NaNoWriMo, and I'm enjoying it heartily, I imagine I'll actually be finished the book by Tuesday. Already having the cover done is a bonus, because it means I have less to do once the book is written. So... here we go... ready?

Really? Are you ready?

Because we can delay this as much as you need if you want some time. I know this is a Big Deal. Maybe more so for me, but still. This is big...ish.

Are you sure? You're ready now? You want me to tell you or you'll hurt me? Well, alright then...

The Hounds of Hell
Book Two in the Modern Irish Myth series
by Paul Carroll
Coming July 16th 2013

For realsies. It's happening. I have less than two weeks to finish writing the book, edit it, and make a trailer for it. I also plan on doing some promotional work when the book comes out, so I need to get that done. (Spoiler alert: it's some flash fiction stories.)

Okay, that's a thing done. Now to do some writing. For maybe fifteen minutes, because my eyes are furious I'm still awake and staring at a screen.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Day 3: Brain Stew Has Been Served

Today's writing was hindered by my need for an income; I worked from nine in the morning until six in the evening. It wasn't actually that bad. A little bit boring. The only thing I disliked about it was having to get up early, and then having to walk home. By the time I was finished my dinner, most of the day was already over. That doesn't lend itself well to writing.

In fact, by the time I was half-way home, I had a headache. I blame the heat. That headache didn't go away fully, to which I can attribute some degree to exhaustion. Or something. Words are now refusing to work for me, after writing 2,200 of them for today's writing session. Brain Stew or not, I worked away on the book.

I focused entirely on one chapter, bringing me up to the 'half-way' point, in terms of chapters. Whether it's half-way through the word count, I won't actually know until I'm closer to the end of the book. That word count by the way... over 11,000.

Can I just say now, deciding to write 2,000 words per day was probably one of my better ideas. Just as it is with New Year's Resolutions, the specificity of writing goals is crucial to actually achieving them. Having an overall goal in mind is even greater, too. While I could have told myself to write 60,000 words in a month, that was giving me permission to relax on some days.

But here's the thing: relaxing doesn't usually bode well for me. Also, that implies the writing is work. Yes, it might take some effort to actually sit down at my desk for a few hours, concentrating on the story, but that doesn't mean it isn't fun. Writing has always been enjoyable for me. Taking a day off from it doesn't do me any good. It's like asking me to stop drinking tea. It's too much a part of my day, too important an aspect of my life, to simply give up.

Even with a melted brain and exhaustion setting in, I can't not write something.

There's also the case that I've been wanting to write a lot every day, for a long time. I'd wanted to do it in June, too, but I allowed myself to get lazy. That was the biggest problem I began to face in May, during the exam season, because I wouldn't let myself write without studying, and I was so sick of studying that I couldn't focus on it a lot of the time. The end result was that I did no work. By June, that had made me adverse to working. I eased myself back into it by writing on my blog every day, and writing poems every day, but this is the real test of my ability.

It comes down to one piece of advice I've heard over and over again: to become a truly great writer, you have to write every day. It's not enough to just read about writing. It's not enough to just think about it. You have to write every day, and you it's even better if you write a certain amount every day. Some write ten pages. Others just one. I'm aiming for 2,000 words per day as a minimum, and I hope that one of these days - maybe Friday - I can double it.

Writing every day despite Brain Stew is one of the most important things to take away from NaNoWriMo. Reaching towards a defined goal is up there, too. It's only day three of Camp NaNoWriMo, but I think I'm getting into the swing of things, now. Tomorrow, it's FUFDay. I'm not sure how that'll work in Camp-style, but we'll see. Maybe I'll do something ridiculous like announce the release date for this book and really pile the pressure on.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Day 2: A Cover Reveal

If you follow me on social media - and I don't know why you wouldn't - you'll know that I revealed the cover for The Hounds of Hell today. Well, a tentative design. I'm awaiting feedback, but I was happy with it when I finished it. It was a quick job, too, which I was glad about; I knew what I was doing before I started. I have known what the cover would look like since... August. Last year. That sounds about right.

What, you want to see it? Well, okay.

There it is in all it's splendour. The idea was to keep it in line with the previously published book in the Modern Irish Myth universe, Balor Reborn and Old Gods Returned. The colour is indicative of something in the book - something important, too - and I think it's freaky enough to make people want to check it out.

I don't normally create a cover for a book before I'm finished writing it. But then, I also don't do what I did today: I added three chapters to the plan of the book.

I know what you might be thinking: (a) isn't that wasting writing time? (b) doesn't that change the story? (c) shouldn't you have known about this before you started writing?

To answer those hypothetical questions, let us first entertain the idea that I know where this series is heading, right up until the very end. Can you keep that in mind? If you need convincing, I have the titles for all twelve books in the series, with an idea of what happens in each, the end of the series already in my head, and two stand-alone books entitled and in the middle of their planning stages. Okay?

So, first answer: no, it's not wasting writing time. For me, planning is an integral part of the writing process. It's also a great way for me to make sure I'm sticking to my overall aim with a book. If I don't plan, but simply intend to do something, the odds are that I'll end up stuck for ideas by the time I reach that point in the book. As it's towards the end of the book - in fact, it was at the very end of the last chapter before the epilogue that the revisions began - I would have been so looking forward to finishing up and getting on with the next book, that I wouldn't have been able to do a good job of the ending.

Just ask that one reviewer of Stepping Forward. She liked the book, but she thought the ending was weak. I agree with her. I rushed it, because I needed an ending, and I didn't want to change it, then. Bold Paul.

As for the second question I'm sure you were asking in your head, I have two words: not considerably. The book was coming to an end by the close of chapter five. At this point in my original plan, I had things sorted out nicely. When I came to writing the book, I looked ahead at the plan, and realised something: I was leaving a massive plot hole in the book. Massive. There was this huge area in the story that I was just ignoring, with the express purpose of moving on to the next book.

Pro tip: closure is a good thing.

The three chapters that I added don't pull the story away from where it needed to be by the epilogue. I think the opposite is true. I've allowed the epilogue to happen without questions being asked about the integrity of one of the characters.

And as for me knowing about this... well, I knew the ending, it was the part in between that got mixed up. Plus, when I planned the book, I didn't name a couple of people who have become more important to the story since I finished writing chapter one. I just didn't realise it at first, because I deviated slightly from the plan.

That's not a bad thing, either. By not taking everything into account before a single word was written, I've surprised myself. I've become excited about these additional chapters in the book. Plus, I think I'll actually reach my desired word count now.

See, I've had this idea in my head that I need to reach about 20,000 words with each of these books. Right now, after just over 4,000 words in Camp NaNoWriMo, the book is about 9,000 words long. This is with a start made on chapter four. Four of what had been five. Can you imagine how long those last two chapters would have had to have been to reach my target? More importantly, how much longer than the previous three chapters? Ridiculous, right? Now I have three more chapters, which can help spread things out a bit more, include a few important scenes, provide closure, and be on my merry way to The Blood of Leap.

Jolly good.

And so ends another day at Camp NaNoWriMo, where the word counts soar, the insanity rises with it, and I answer hypothetical questions. This is going to be a long month.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Day 1: War Against the Word Count

I made a late start in Camp NaNoWriMo, today. It was after two in the afternoon when I finally sat down to do some writing. I set myself a word count target to achieve before I did anything else: 2000 words.

As it happens, I reached just over 2000 before five, with some distractions. Today has been a lot about getting back into the story, and trying to build on what my plan dictates I write. I'm noticing that the first couple of chapters in the book are a lot shorter than I'd have liked them to be, certainly shorter than the first chapters of Balor Reborn. What this means is that the rest of the chapters will be longer, to meet my target word count.

It's not an ideal way to write, but by notes actually require a lot more to be written later on in the book anyway. The earlier scenes provide a lot of set up for events that, in reality, take place over the course of a few hours. I say "set up", but I merely mean that it's all leading towards the climax. As it's a short book - they're all short books - there's not much to actually happen over a few chapters.

The flip side, of course, is that rather than simply having to reduce how much I write in each book, I have to attempt to include a lot more information about characters early on. With Fionn and Michael, it's easy: I'm working from Balor Reborn. With my later addition to the team, Emily, I have to figure out how to make her a strong enough character so that her personality shines through in her passages.

I've actually given her a lot of space to work by herself in this book. While Michael has been the "side-kick" before, Emily has her own troubles to deal with independently to Fionn and Michael. This is keeping in mind the fact that Fionn is the lead protagonist in the series; he's not alone, and he's never supposed to be, but he's also not the only person in the series that matters.

In the flash fiction stories on, I've tried to make it clear that there are other important characters who exist in the country. This includes, but is not limited to, Ogma, Fearghus and a couple of the lead characters from other stories - the ones that don't meet an unfortunate end. So, while Fionn is part of a Grand Plan to save Ireland, Emily and Michael have their own roles to play. Without them, it's just this nineteen year old with a hurl trying to fight off all sorts of monsters and magical beings. But see, here's the thing: he's not always the most level-headed person in the world, and the events of the books are going to take their toll on him - on all of them. He needs other people to go through this stuff with him, and they need to prove themselves independent of the protection he can offer.

So, Emily is kicking ass with her half of the book, having scenes alone to deal with problems that on the face of it are larger than those Fionn has to face a lot of the time. I called her, a while ago, a "strong female character", and this is exactly what I mean by that: she can hold her own, not just against the dangers in the book, but narratively. I wish the term hadn't become cliché, but there you have it. I hope you at least understand from this what I mean.

It was today that it really became apparent to me the sort of person she is. I've made her inquisitive and considerate, and while she's not a natural warrior, she's able to put on a brave face. Except that wasn't in the plan. I just wrote her that way today. (That plan didn't say anything contrary to how I've made her. It just didn't say "Make her smart. Make her brave. Make her ask questions." That part had to come from the moment.)

Writing a series like this isn't going to be easy, I know. Balor Reborn was manageable, because it was just one book, with one clear goal in mind: stop the maniac with the Death Ray in his eye. But there's a lot more to the story that I have yet to reveal to readers, and it's those parts that are the driving force of the series as a whole. Early hints have been dropped in the first book, but I have to address the issues again in The Hounds of Hell, before I really throw a spanner in the works in The Blood of Leap.

I won't say any more about what's actually happening in the series. Don't worry.

The actual writing was fairly easy to get in to, once I had my Excel sheet set up. I like to keep track of how many words I've written in a day. I find that when I'm aiming for a word count target, and I find my concentration slipping, it helps to know how much I have to write to catch up on myself.

It's also handy to have something to judge by when I really get into the writing and smash my target. I think the most I've ever written in a single day is over 10,000 words, and I've managed it on a couple of occasions, but it's a whole-day affair, and it requires a lot of motivation. Still, two days like that a week and I'd write a million words in a year. There's a Thing for that, isn't there?

My advice, for those who are trying out Camp NaNoWriMo this year, is to set yourself realistic target each day. If you know you have a lot of work to do in other areas of your life, don't assume you can write the same amount as you would if you spent the whole day writing. For me, my 2,000 word target took into consideration the fact that I was starting late and had to clean my room. Well, not clean my room exactly, but clear out a press outside my room...which created a mess inside my room. Mainly in the doorway. I can't spend all day writing when I have to do that. Tomorrow, though, if I have a lot of the cleaning up done, I can write for a bit longer than I did today. I might manage 4,000 words, if I'm lucky.

I've also read the advice that you should never start on a blank page. Some writers suggest stopping before you finish a chapter. However, if you can't bring yourself to stop there, I suggest even writing the words "Chapter..." and whatever chapter you're on, on the next page. That, or do some writing warm-ups. I write haiku when I need to get words into my head again. I really have to think about the right words to use when writing them, so I kind of jump-start my brain.

I may need that tomorrow if I don't finish this up and make my room habitable again soon. To my fellow Wrimos, I wish you good luck tomorrow with your novels. To everyone else, I hope you have a happy Tuesday.