Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Review - Skulduggery Pleasant

Skulduggery Pleasant [SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT]Very quickly I'd like to raise people's attention of a Read-A-Thon idea. Before I put any serious amount of time and effort into this, I want to know if there's sufficient interest in it. Leave a comment on this post if you're interested, and state whether you want to be a reader or a moderator, and whether you'll help with PR or not. When I have an idea of how many people are involved, then I'll be able to announce whether or not this will be going ahead as planned. (And any help in planning it would be greatly appreciated).*

Now, onto that review - very simple video review, this time, of Skulduggery Pleasant, the first book in the series of the same name, by Derek Landy.

And there you have it - the first video review for The New Book Club. To join the club, just subcribe to the channel. It's that simple. Then, when a review is posted, you just reply with a comment or a video of your own. It couldn't be easier!

(also, Skulduggery Pleasant makes a great book for Read-A-Thons!)

*Read-A-Thon idea has not and will not go ahead (29/08/10)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Painful Awareness

[TOM is sitting alone in a cafe, hugging himself lightly. He's staring at the table in front of him]

[Enter AMANDA]

AMANDA: Hey... what's with the look?

TOM: What? Oh... just became a bit...

AMANDA: Nostalgic? You look nostalgic.

TOM: A bit... We're eighteen, Amanda. Did you realise that? We're eighteen and... and what? We pick our college courses and... and...

AMANDA: And we're finally free of this God-forsaken school!

TOM: And we're adults.

AMANDA: Yeah... That happens, you know?

TOM: But it's happening to us. We're not going to be able to say, ever again, "When I grow up." We're going to be grown up. It's messed up.

AMANDA: Is that what's bothering you? Growing up?

TOM: A little bit, yeah. Doesn't it bother you? Haven't you noticed that your childhood is gone?

AMANDA: I've noticed, Tom, but I don't let it bother me. [AMANDA takes TOM's hands] Look, you're just going through a phase. You won't always be so aware of your own...

TOM: Insignificance as a person to date?

AMANDA: Suuure. You won't always be so aware of everything you haven't done. Yet.

TOM: Painfully aware.

[Enter ROBERT]

ROBERT: What's up with him?

AMANDA: [half-mockingly] He's painfully aware of his own significance as a person.

ROBERT: That sucks. Oh hey, you want anything while I'm up?

AMANDA: Coffee. De-caf. Cheers.

TOM: [groans]

AMANDA: And an espresso for Tom... He looks like he could do with a lift.

TOM: Kill me now, before I get any older. [pauses] Too late! I can feel my youth slipping away from me.


Spontaneous script-writing helps some times. Okay, so admittedly I had the idea all day, but I hadn't planned on putting it down anywhere, especially not in this post! But that's the thing about writing, about being a writer - we're not always in control of everything that happens in our lives. Heck, that's being human!

I got the idea earlier, during one of my bouts of almost forced... I don't know what word I'm thinking of. Depression is going too far, because I wasn't sad, or elated. I just had a feeling of... I don't know. I guess I realised that, like Tom, I'm grown up already. I don't have a "when I grow up" situation any more. I'm going to be a teacher. I suppose this is the aftermath of teaching practice in college. Regardless, I got the idea hours ago, and I wasn't ready for it. Like I'm not ready for most of the ideas I get about The Jump. I haven't written it in months, and yet I'm still getting ideas about it.

But there's another thing about writing. When you sit down to write something - anything - you might just find a tale you remembered, and find that it's ready to be written. Whether you like it or not. Many authors - probably most, if not all - carry around with them a note pad to take... well, notes with. I recommend the same. Write down any ideas you get, but just briefly. No real detail. When you read back on it, you should be able to remember the idea, because it should have been that good.

Now, with a knocking on my wall to signify that I need to get to bed/my typing is too loud, I must leave. Remember - there's a time and a place for writing, and typing away at 11:15pm in the room, at the wall, adjascent to two people - my parents in this case - trying to sleep, is not the right time or place. Now, if I had set up downstairs... This might be the plan for tomorrow if I plan on writing at this hour. Toodles for now, though.

PS Let me know what you think of the wee script.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Review - Lord Sunday

Lord Sunday (The Keys To The Kingdom)The tide of Nothing rises, and the House is coming to its end...


This is more or less what you need to know about Lord Sunday, the stunning conclusion to Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series. That, and that Arthur Penhaligon can possibly save the whole universe if he recovers the Seventh Key Lord Sunday. To do that, he has to free The Seventh Part of the Will of the Architect.

Initial thoughts on the book? Okay, so I had to read it with an Austrailian accent in my head every time I had trouble getting into it, but that wore off very quickly once the pace had been discovered again. The plot fits in well, up until the ending, which I felt was a bit of a let-down. Not entirely bad, but it could have been written better. It served its purpose though, and that was to successfully conclude the bestselling series.

How does it fit with the other books in the series? Considering it begins exactly where Superior Saturday left off, quite well. In fact, each of the books does this, and by successfully linking with each other, the seven book series can almost be read as one book, in seven volumes. The template for the books is the same throughout too - find the Will, get the Key, put the Trustee in his place. More or less.

Major themes explored... please? From my own experience, a question along the lines of "So what's your book about?" must have been asked of Nix at some stage by a curious friend, family member or acquintance. If I might interject and answer for him, it's a tale of epic proportions, demonstrating the problems with ultimate power, infused with Christian idiologies.

Each of the books demonstrates a Deadly Sin from Christian Theology. Mister Monday shows the title character as a lazy being of power, a victim of sloth. In Grim Tuesday we meet a man who aims to take much more than he aught to have - greed. The Trustee of Drowned Wednesday is a glutton, eating everything she can, while just ahead of her, in Sir Thursday, a wrath-filled general wages war against a being from a nursery rhyme. The vain mistress of Lady Friday brings us into the darker parts of the tale as far as Earth is concerned, while the green-eyed antogonist of Superior Saturday wishes to steal all the power she can within the House - you guessed it, envy. Then we meet Lord Sunday, a being of such unwavering pride that he refuses to help fight the tide of Nothing in the House, until it would destroy him too.

These are contrasted with the seven virtues of Christianity, found in the Parts of the Will. There's not much point listing them, as some are difficult to tell from the others within the book - the Sins are better seen in the Trustees than the virtues are.

Then there's the ending, which I won't spoil. I'll just say this - you can tell Nix is a Christian.

What's it most like? If I'm to ignore the fact that it's a series book, I would say the ending most resembles Hell's Heroes by Darren Shan. (see the Reviews page for a link) You'll understand when you've read them both. Which you really should.

Overall opinion? Fantastic! Nix should be proud to have created such a gripping tale. Aside from the times when I had to prepare food or use both of my hands for something else, I couldn't put it down. Literally, from... I'd say half ten, but it was probably later than that, to eight, or a bit earlier, I was reading it, with my lunch and dinner in between, and a number of chores. Not many books can get me to do that.

Now, why are you still reading this review? Go get the book! (though you should start with Mister Monday, or you'll be a bit lost as to what's going on.)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Review - Yuck's Fantastic Football Match

This lovely two-in-one book is a hilarious little book for children aged five and up; two stories, lots of fun. I received this book from Simon and Schuster Kids only earlier this week, read it today, and I have to admit, even though I'm a little bit older than their target market, I still enjoyed the book. This, I reckon, is good news for the authors, Matt and Dave (they have surnames, but they don't announce them on the cover - Morgan and Sinden respectively, in case you were wondering.) Before I get into the guts (well, there aren't guts, but there are equally disgusting things) of the book, I want to say that this book is perfect for parents who still read to their children! Plenty of times in the book to comment on the book and keep the child thinking - we've been told in college that asking children their opinion of something is very helpful for their education, and I don't believe it should be any different at home than at school!.

So, the book. I'll start with the title story: Yuck's Fantastic Football Match. Straight away I thought, "Oh no, football. I hate football." But it didn't matter. The book doesn't dwell too much on the football side of the story. All the little football terms really are little - heading and passing and chipping - and are completely understandable for any five year old. Just because it's about football, doesn't mean they can't read it.

The book, the entire thing, not just this story, is filled with disgusting things like mud and boogies and insects - in other words, all the stuff children love! The more disgusting, the better. At the age they should be read this, they'll relish in the idea of all the filth.

I read this on the book and had to hide two things - one, obviously, that I was reading a book for five year olds, and two, that I was enjoying it! It's full of humorous jokes and tricks that will have kids filled with delight. Story two in the book, Yuck's Creepy Crawlies, is a much funnier tale, I'll admit, and much grosser. In case you haven't guessed, lots of bugs and insects, slugs and even a big fat spider! I know some children are afraid of spiders, like some adults, but it just makes it even funnier when you reach the story's climax!

It can't be stressed enough - this is a must-read for children, especially if they're just learning to read. It's fun, giggle-inducing and packed full of disgusting ideas to keep them amused for hours!

Yuck's Fantastic Football Match comes out in the UK on April 1st, 2010, from Simon and Schuster. It retails at £4.99.


Just a quick note while you're on the page - there's now a Review tab on the blog, so you can find any review I've done on this blog easily. More will be coming in the near future. Thank you, and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Poetry Against Cancer - On Sale Now!

Well, the day is here! Poetry Against Cancer is now on sale.

With an amazing cover and fantastic design work by Rachel, I know people are going to love it, even without reading the wonderful poetry inside! I've read this book three times now, so I know the poems in it are good.

I really do hope you'll purchase a copy - all the money raised goes to St John's Ward at Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Dublin. It's a children's cancer ward, and it could do with our help to ensure the continued service the hospital gives to its young patients.

Please visit this page and place your purchase - available for €7.50 plus P&P, and in e-book format, for €4.

Thanking you on behalf of all the staff, patients and families of St John's and Crumlin hospital, and all the people who made this book possible,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thirteen hours - Six minutes

That may look like an odd title for a blog - I certainly thought it would be vague. It signifies two things, things that some people know and some don't, and things that some people might have an inkling about and others will just get annoyed about, because let's face it, clocks aren't all that fun to work with.

In thirteen hours, the doors will close on the "classroom" in college, with a bunch of kids and the students they'll be teaching in there for about an hour. The kids have to teach for six minutes each, to students ranging between the gaes of nine and eleven (eleven at a stretch).

If you're confused, then I've done my job. Thought I'd become entirely straightforward these past few days, but thankfully that's not the way it is. The kids are actually third level students. I just thought I'd emphasize our youth... we're all very nervous about having to teach the students, who are actually little girls, because we have to be professional when we do it (in "teacher clothes" too!), and we're going to be recorded doing it. To make matters worse, we then have to watch ourselves teach.

I don't get why we have to watch ourselves teach. I don't see why we have to be subjected to it.

I can see something going wrong in the next couple of days. Not for me, specifically. I'd be more concerned that Meadhbh will lose her voice, or the computer will shut itself down on Aisling... but it's her own fault. But what if it shuts down on Meadhbh too? I hadn't thought of that one...


Yep, she's screwed. That computer can only be on for so long before it decides it wants to shut down unless you tell it not to, and no one is allowed to interrupt the lesson to make sure that the thing stays on.


My lesson tomorrow will consist of a poster and a handout. I plan on keeping things very simple. Get the kids calmed down at the end of a long day, etc etc. I get to summarise everything else too, which will involve asking them questions about the previous twenty seven/eight minutes of lesson. Fun fun fun.

In other, not-related-to-teaching news, I've finished reading Skulduggery Pleasant, and will be reviewing it on The New Book Club channel on YouTube. Yay! You can subscribe to that channel by going to http://tiny.cc/tnbc - it even has its own tiny link. That is how much I love it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Poetry Against Cancer available for Pre-Order!

Well, the day's finally come when Poetry Against Cancer is availabe for pre-order! It costs €7.50, plus postage and packaging of €1.50 (€9.00 in total), and will be like that for one week, until it's release. The button to pre-order is in the right-hand sidebar on my blog, right there at the top of the page. Click it... you know you want to.

Just make sure to leave your address so I know where to ship the book. Shipping in the same for everywhere, so you don't have to worry about that.

I was asked earlier - why the pre-order period? Why not just let the Print On Demand do its job? The answer: we plan on having a launch for the book. Right now, I've just waiting for a reply from a bookshop about it, and then we'll be set. If the owner says no, then I'll have to try organise something myself. I might see if Niamh can get the choir to perform for it. That would be awesome indeed. Would need a few songs for it, but it would be during the Easter break, so I'm sure they could muster something... I'll have to see. Everyone's fairly busy these days.

Of course, I can always ask the likes of Rob N' Eoin and Slow Motion Getaway from college to perform, but I'd like to ask Niamh first, based on the bookshop's response of course. Will need a number for the latter band if I'm to ask them though. They're music option number three, since I haven't heard them play before (in actual fact, I've only really heard Rob N' Eoin in class and at mass...)

I would also need a venue that's accessible to everyone. A pub launch might work... it'd be a venue for the musicians and an easy place to contact. The Pint Pub seems to go down well...

Okay, enough hypothetical scheming! This is getting crazy. It hasn't even happened yet. The book isn't even ready for public purchase through Lulu.com! Calm down Paul!

In the meantime, tell your family and friends to buy the book. It's not too expensive, and it's for a good cause! All the money raised goes to St John's Ward at Our Lady's Children's Hospital!

Once the pre-order period is over, the book will only be available from Lulu.com. The postage will be higher then, so don't delay! Order soon!

All the very best,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Well, I meant to post this yesterday, but I failed on that behalf. I have my three mini-blogs on Drama for you! The first was written on Thursday following the actual performance of the play and the afterparty. Enjoy!


Drama today. In short, it was great. That's not me being boastful, now. We were pretty fantastic. Play, a couple of stray lines, but great saves made. And, I'm told, I played the principal excellently! Colin's "realistic tears" were commented on as being the best the judges had seen, and only the script got much abuse...which is weird. We had 24 school girls in the audience, and my good friend Ciaran, who contributed to us selling out...twice! First the original chairs were gone, then the extra chairs!

Following the performance, we began our after party, which was going on for seven hours before I left. I figured that seven hours in a pub in one day is perhaps a bit too much...

Still, it was great to be able to get to talk to everyone about the play and just about everything else. Colin remarked on my performance, we a made jokes about Laura messing up her line, but also saving it, AND another line earlier on, and we got free food, which is always a plus. Several litres of wine later, I was the only sober cast member left.

I suppose my sobriety let's me remember things better. There's the unspeakable things I promised I wouldn't repeat, and there's the kind words of the director. He said that he saw great potential in me, and that if I do drama again next year and he's asked to direct again, he's going to "mould" me. (Kind of like Play Doh, I think...the alcohol made him perform such moulding actions in the air...)

There was also some great opportunities for bonding with Nigel (the director) and the students who won't be with us next year (namely Colin, Carol, Megan, Rónán, Bobby and Fian!). I can honestly say that I'll miss them. They've been such a huge part of my life of late, I really don't know what to expect without them!

The drama had a great affect on me. It's helped me, even just today, to realise that I can be happy when I want, that all this sadness around me is only made worse by my insecurities, that I have talents I can put to good use, and that I probably should continue to put them to use. I suppose a lot of it was in the direction; sure Deezie was a great director, but she was best at her overall vision and not at developing the tiny roles. I blame the script choice for that, because it didn't let her help her actors in ways of development like Nigel's script did. She was easier to work with, yes, but in the end I took more away from my experience with Nigel. I really do hope they ask him to come back for next year, because I'm willing to learn all that I can from him.

Okay, this turned into a lot about Nigel. I guess it's to do with the impact of what he said to me, and the fact that I left shortly after he said it. Still, I don't think he'd mind the praise, once he doesn't have to read it... Long story; egotistical director can't take praise very well. Go figure.

Following that post, I wrote one on Drama on Saturday night. The post is largely a reflection of what Drama did for me... read it now!
I've been thinking about Drama again, by and large due to the fact that the awards ceremony for ISDA is creeping up on us very quickly. I asked myself, Why did you join Drama?
I thought the answer was a simple 'I wanted to built confidence' but of course, that wasn't all that happened, and it didn't happen all that soon. I found that inside of building confidence I was building friendships. I didn't learn much by way of acting until earlier this week, and now I don't want it to stop. Sure, I felt uncomfortable at first, being tutored in the ways of acting, but what I got out of it is far greater than that sick feeling I got in my stomach when the tutorage wasn't entirely private. In front of the cast, it made me feel sick. With just Nigel and Colin, it was easier. A failure then and there wouldn't have been so bad. It was easier, then, when I knew what I was doing, to perform first in front of the cast, and then in front of the audience at ISDA.
On top of my learning to act and my making of friends, I also picked up the ability to project my voice better, and I learned the ways of feigning authority. I'll be honest: I was terrified of performing, but I was able to pretend to gave authority, which made me feel more comfortable. I feel this will come in handy in the future, as a teacher and, hopefully, as a patent. I've learned to take control of myself, so that I might also take control of a situation. And I didn't even have to try change my voice; Nigel resigned to letting me use my own voice rather than trying to deepen my voice for the competition. He said no one in the audience would know, but I would. I'd know, and I'd be entirely consious of the fact that I was using a voice that wasn't mine, at which point I'd probably drop it...half way through the play.
I don't know whether I've built up my confidence...I suppose in a way I have, but I still get nervous, especially with the competition. I suppose it's nice to know that it's over now: there's nothing we can do any more to influence the decision of the judges. And as Nigel said, we only need one nomination to make it all worth it. A win, though, wouldn't be turned away. Colin would deserve it, for sure! Some of the others too. Whether the judges notice is a different question.
As I've said before, time will tell! The curtains are drawn, the lights switched off, the costumes put away; it's time the judges tell us who was best in their eyes!
And finally, results! I can tell you straight away, the awards were entirely unremarkable. Cutting to the chase: we got one nomination, Best Production by a Small College...and lost to DCU..? Last I checked, tab thousand students isn't small! We have one twentieth that number! Those judges really messed up there!
As a result of Judge Fail 2010, the Drama Society were pretty down. I just hope Nigel directs again next year, because I loved working with him, and I know we can take the prize next year now that we actually know the categories! Sure, we won't win everything like Trinity, UCD or UCC (literally everything but DCU's prize!), but we reckon we can tackle this competition nicely next year.

One problem though...we're down at least five actors. Can only hope some first years join next year, and no one else leaves!
Following writing that, I did a head-count. If we exclude Carol and Deezie (because Carol wasn't in Bang Bang You're Dead and Deezie was a director this year), the Drama society is down six actors, at least. Myself, Eileen, Laura, Mark, Cabrina, Emma, Emma and Niamh are all that's left - Ronan might be in Malta in semester two next year, and Siobhan's told us she won't have time for Drama next year. Five actors from Bang Bang You're Dead are graduating this year, and so we're left with those named. And that's assuming all eight of us come back! One of the Emma's dropped out of Bang Bang You're Dead this semester, with ISDA right around the corner. No idea if she's coming back next year.
Which means we need first years next year to join. And Nigel, if he comes back, needs to be able to pick a play with roles for everyone, if he wants to continue his way of including everyone, but giving them roles specific to their ability to act. Like me and my principal role... I only learned to act in that role two days before the play at ISDA!
I have plans to help the society next year, if need be. Might be setting up a writing society in the college, and might get the two societies to work together - mini-plays or skit shows to raise money for the societies, based on who needs money. I don't reckon the writing one will need a lot of money - plans include getting an author to come in and discuss writing with us, based on the writing types of the members, and going on a fieldtrip to the Dublin Writers' Museum. Simples. Going to see some plays, and going to (and possibly organising..?) some poetry nights are also in there, and most of this stuff is free or cheap. Might even get two authors to come, at different times in the year! And possibly see if there's space in the budget for personalised notebooks... but that might be pushing it!
Anyway, the Idea is to get the writing society to actually write the skits, and get the actors to perform them. Short things that don't require much learning of lines, and can help get us revenue if need be... thoughts on it would be appreciated. And who knows, it might be something I try organise outside of college too! I'd just need actors and writers and BAM! We can raise money for charity! Hurray!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fantasy, Drama, Jonny and Sam

Over the past few days of silence, I've written quite a lot as regards miniature blogs. Due to Drama, I was unable to gain access to my blog, so I've decided to post three of my "mini-blogs" here... I will warn you, the third is not quite as mini as I thought it was, but it contains some wonderful introductions to books. I say wonderful... I mean they are rough approximations as to how I would like to start my books. You will understand.

Anyway, look out for the asterisks - they'll tell you when one blog post ends and another begins. The third post will end the entire post here. Tomorrow, I'm going to be lazy again and just give you two more mini-blog posts. They're about Drama, but the Awards are tonight, so I don't want to publicly jinx myself. Plus, this way I get to tell you how we did (both with the awards... and the alcohol I know my peers will be drinking...)


Status Update after a couple of hours of playing Final Fantasy 13... It's amazing! Perhaps one of the greatest games of all time; fantastic stuff! So far, not much by way of character growth; personalities are developed, yes, but with the removal of the EXP system, it's difficult to judge how well I'm doing. Not to worry.

Also, the Literary Den is three! Can't believe it's lasted this long! We're still going strong too. Okay, so maybe the forum's gone a bit quiet, but with our blog up and running the Den is never truly silent. I hope you'll join us as we keep going; there's always something going on, someone who can offer you some help or announce some new competition that's open, and I guarantee that you'll make new friends if you keep coming back, writers who know what you're going through, are experienced in a number of fields, and are always up to help new writers find their way, and to discuss the ways of the craft with those who are up for it. I sincerely hope you'll consider it.

Jonny Havron was found, but it's not good news. A fisherman in the Foss Basin found his body. I'm obviously a bit shaken up by it. I knew the chances if him coming back to us were slim, but there were chances all the same. Still, I can only think if his family. They'll never get to talk to their son and brother ever again.

And you know, he was such a nice guy too. I know it shouldn't make a difference whether or not someone is nice when this sort of stuff happens, but it does make a difference. Someone like Jonny, someone so harmless and friendly, couldn't have gotten himself into any sort of trouble. It's...well, it's a downright shame that this happened to him. We can only hope it was an accident, and not some fierce attack against Jonny. At least then we can let him rest in peace without the knowledge that he had been something we never thought he was, or that someone might mean him harm.

RIP Jonny Havron, writer and friend. You'll be missed sorely.

In my time in college I have discovered that time is relative to whoever happens to be concerned about it. Naturally I am concerned about time, particularly in my Lenten vow. One would imagine a day to end at midnight, but no- college has taught me that a night goes on so long as the body is willing. Admittedly my body is all that willing, but a cup is making way to convincing it to function as I type out my mini-blog segment of the day. So long as my fingers work and my mind is still in the same cycle if consciousness as it was this morning, I have not broken my rule of writing every day of Lent.

This relevance of time is a rather big thing in my novel Meet Sam. The protagonist, Sam Richards, has developed a thing of checking the time constantly. As such, my "chapters" are named after the time at which the watch is checked: it isn't rounded up or down, and it isn't something that vanished even as he sleeps, for his sleep is disturbed at various points throughout the day. The day, I might point out, is technically running onto two days, starting at eight in the morning and going on for twenty four hours. People who have read the book have always been curious about that; it's the first question I get asked, usually. It's also followed by "I really want to know what happens the next day." This next day has never been much of a thought to me, until recently. I keep thinking about how to write them, and what to have happen. One obvious suggestion has been made, something that became evident in the editing of the book. So, I have an idea for a sequel. I do think it's best served as a trilogy of books, though. Sure, there may be side books, like the untold story of Day 1 from Abby's point of view, and the story of Alex on that day, which isn't as easy to write. There are one or two texts from Alex in the book, but they're a start that can be made. How the book ends though...I'd nearly always known that. I just need to write the rest, and Sam's two extra books.

Time, in all of these stories, is important. Abby's life must become clear in this one day; the things Sam discovers about her, the things the reader learns, need to be expanded upon, while also developing the character of Nick. Yes, there are all three if Sam's books for that, but Nock won't ever have his own book. He's a support character for Sam and Abby, the one they both turn to. His personality isn't too clear for me yet to write a book about him, because right now all I have is his reactions to caring for Sam. As the relationships between Nick and the other characters develop, then maybe there's a chance for him to get the spotlight. But that's dependant on time, too. I really want to get the other four books done first, and then I'll have an idea about what to write about for Nick.

One thing I don't know yet, either, is how publishers or agents will react to the time constraints of the story. It's different, at least in the way that not many people have done it. James Joyce is one person, I suppose...but that's all I know. Whether people want a simpler to read Ulysses-type book is, as yet, unknown. Time will tell...

As to when all this writing will get done...well, there's always the summer. I have to finish editing first, but once I have a start on the next book, nothing will stop me.

Oh, I do know how to start Abby's book though. 'This is the story of one girl in Dublin, on the day that her life changed beyond her control. However, it must be noted that this day is, more or less, the imagined sequence of events that a writer could put together from the evidence given to him, told through the same medium as his own life; the story of Abby Moore is narrated by an Englishwoman in the head of the writer. While Abby is completely unaware of this fact, her day is somewhat controlled by the unfortunate madness that befalls writers in their lives: Abby's free will is choosing for her to follow the predetermined events of the day, much of which is subsequently filled in rather hastily by the preexisting thoughts of the aforementioned writer's participation in these events. It should also be noted that Abby Moore is a painter, and not a writer, and, as such, much of her life is imagined in an infinitely more complex way than the writer would choose. Such is the way of this writer that he has thrown himself into a task that he cannot begin to fathom until it's completion.'

There's also an intro to Sam's second book: 'Samuel Emily Richards had a rather strange desire to be spoken about in his most dangerously low moments in his life. As he himself is the writer, and a Lonely Writer at that, Sam subsequently finds himself with a narrator. In previous occurance, this has proven to be something of a success, though Sam is almost sure that on this second hearing, his remaining shreads of sanity should be taken into careful consideration. The existence of Sam's sanity has become, in these words, as doubtful as the voice in his head, and as such he cannot be deemed responsible for the actions he might find himself participating in. Unfortunately for Sam, his dignity prevents him from sharing his ill fortune of madness with the world, and so he stands on a cliff, ready to end things if his next breaths aren't the best of his life.

His phone began to ring.'

Written just now! Epic or what? I know where to go from there, too. That's both a good thing and a bad thing. Good in that I have a start, bad in that I don't have time to write the book yet!

Time, it seems, is an evil mistress, conspiring with my Muse to get the best of me at the worst moment. Thankfully, I am good at following my plot notes when I take them, and shall be able to combat this situation of timelessness with the writing a plot for book two, currently entitled Love, Sam. And with that revelation, I bid you adieu.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Work Ethic

I thought I'd continue on this "I'm writing about writing" thing, and talk about Work Ethic. Now, this isn't a lecture on Ethics and Morality, so you can relax. What I speak of is getting yourself to work.

Like many people who join Facebook, I became slightly addicted to the games there, like Farmville, Petville, Fishville and Cafe World, as well a number of other games online, like Elements on Kongregate.com. Now, there's nothing wrong with these games, except when you let them control your life. I decided yesterday, since I hadn't been on my laptop much on Saturday, to give up the Facebook games. So what if my cute blue dog thing goes to the pound? So what if the fish die and the crops wither and the food goes rotten? It's all virtual!

And today, literally as I was getting ready to write this blog, I decided, "To hell with Elements!" And so, I'm writing to you earlier than I would have. Importantly, I'm writing, not playing an online game. See, this is the point where my work ethic failed. Sure, I promised myself that I'd write something every day of Lent, but I often put it off because of games. Well, I say to you that you can do the same thing as I just did and put the writing first.

Prioritising is important in life, I know. I'm the first to admit that I'll choose to go the cinema than write something, because I know that I can write around the cinema time, but I can't see my friends whenever I want. (We're in different colleges, so going to the cinema is the best contact I get with them). The decision is easy when they're taken into consideration. You see, it's important that writers young and... not so young... don't forget about their lives outside of the writing too. It's a lonely world out there, and locking ourselves up is only useful when we're struggling to get some peace. If you have a reasonable number of invites to events and enough time to write even when you go, go to the events.

When you do sit down to write, however, you better make sure you write something. Close off Twitter if you have to. I know, it's a heresy that we eliminate virtual conversation as well as our families, but it must be done. However, you can always take short breaks every few hundred words! I recommend http://writeordie.drwicked.com to get some work done while giving yourself some breaks. Plan your writing session for ten or fifteen minutes, 400 or 600 words respectively, and when you've done your writing, save it, take your wee break, max 10 minutes, and get back into another session of similar size. Twitter will still be there for you after that little burst too.

I encourage that you use your time wisely. Find ten minutes every day to write, at the very least. I tend to spend longer writing my blog than that, but my family generally leave me to it when they see me typing away. They understand that I like to write at this hour, and they don't understand an awful lot about me sometimes (like where I get all my ideas... to quote my mum, "I don't know where you get it from." << see!) So find your writing time and write. No excuses. You can't say you have writers block, because I've shown you your Tools of the Trade already. If you missed that post, go back one day - you can't miss it. 1400 words of me telling you that you can write because you have lots to write about!

If that post still isn't helping you with your novel, take a break from the novel and write something else. Write a short story if you can, or keep a blog to make sure you're always thinking about what words to write. I find this keeps my writing brain going throughout the twenty-four hour period of when I finish and press Publish.

And don't forget - if you're going to write, you have to read. If you write short stories, read them too. If it's novels you're in to, there are more than enough of them at your local library or bookshop for you to keep your self amused - just remember to write too! Screenplays and theatre works are always available too - bookshops, libraries and the Internet will supply they for you. The BBC even posts them online for you! Poetry is even easier to come across - a lot of poetry is posted online, under the Creative Commons Licence. As a writer, we more or less have an infinite stream of words to read to suit our craft. Don't waste it, and don't save it thinking it will run out. It won't. There are always writers looking to get published.

And with that, I bid you adieu once more, writer. Keep working, and good luck. If I can think of more to write about from my own experiences, you'll know with more blogs. Toodle pip for now.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tools of the Trade

I suppose there's always a few tools of the trade that a writer needs to get by. There are a couple of obvious ones, which I'll go into shortly, but there are also more complex tools that people don't quite understand are theirs for the use.

To begin - you can't write, physically write, without either (a) a pen and paper or (b) a computer of some sort. One or the other will do, but you can use both. Now, the paper is best with lines, to make sure you write in a uniform way (i.e. so you don't write at a slant...), unless you're doing a comic of some description, in which case blank paper is best. Pens should be black or blue, or at the very least a dark colour. You need to be able to read what you write. As for the computer - you don't need the most up to date software on it, and in fact you can use a typewriter instead, but you just need to be able to save it, change it, and, preferably, be able to format it. Formatting it easy - most publishers request double-line spacing, to make it easier to read. If you don't plan on submitting, however, you don't even need to worry about it!

As for those complex tools... the pen and paper and computer are all useless without these. The first one is your imagination. Too obvious? It's a tool you can't refill like a pen, you can't just switch on like a computer, or load with paper. Your imagination can wear thin, and it's important to remember that it's okay. Most people call this "writers block", and it's possible to beat it with a number of different techniques.

Over the years, I've gathered a few of these techniques. One recommendation is to try a new type of music - it can stimulate your brain in a different way. You might listen to a rap artist for the first time, ever, and realise that your story is somewhat lacking in the problems of every day life. You might realise that maybe your London based novel doesn't need to be a peaceful story of boy-meets-girl, but can be a story of boy-meets-girl-but-is-in-a-gang-war-with-her. Okay, that's a little over the top, but it's true to life in that these events can happen, and that you're not following the same pattern as everyone else. Although, if you're using that idea, I might recommend reading Romeo and Juliet first so you know exactly what not to write - that story has been told over and over again, and a gang-twist isn't original for it (the movie adaptation of Romeo and Juliet is proof of this.) But my point still lies - you can take an idea you get from a song, any song, and use to change your story.

You can also go for a walk - fresh air does the brain good, and if you take a different route than you usually do, your imagination will thank you for it later. You can even use the little coincidences of your walk as the formation of a story. I did it before, where all the characters, nameless if I remember, were based on the actual people who I'd seen or interacted with on my way to choir.

Listen to conversations on the bus. You might find that you can make a story out of two people talking to one another. Or, if someone's on their phone, you have the basis of a conversation you can fill in to suit your story. And, while we're discussing phones, did you ever notice how people like to play music through their phones at the back of the bus? Just saying... (there's a story in there too)

Other options that will help your imaginarium come to life again are to look at the pre-existing ideas already available to you - look at some television, watch a movie, read a book. Or look at your own stuff, old, discarded ideas, and shift the context of the events around to suit your current Work In Progress.

Following up your imagination, you've got your experiences. I've touched lightly on this with my cures for Out Of Imagination, but I feel it could do with some more work. However old you are, nineteen or ninety, you have experiences at your disposal. If you think, "I'm too young," think again.

I'm nineteen years old. I've been bullied, friendless and depressed. And yet, I've also made some of the best friends in the world, started an anti-bullying campaign, been happy for weeks at a time (and it usually takes something really to bring me down again). I've been to Barcelona twice, and it was a different city both times. I've been to Portugal once, Menorca once, Lanzarote about seven times, and every time we did something different, or did things very much the same and felt different emotions each time. I've been in a Mini-Company in transition year, ran a Young Social Innovators project, had a job in a bookshop for two and a half years, sung in my primary school choir for four years and my friend Niamh's choir for two and half, been to three institutes of education (primary school, secondary school and, now, college) and I've made new friends at each one. I've joined a number of social networking sites, and with the exception of Facebook, I've made great new friends on each one. And I've lost three grandparents, seen my great-grandmother go through dementia, felt my heart ripped out by a girl. But I've found happiness in a number of great television shows, I see a new movie almost every week, and I've read more stories than I can even remember. All that, and I haven't even mentioned the writing, which in itself gave me a new outlook on life, a hobby, friends in the writers group I set up and something to talk about every time it happens to come up in conversation.

And I'm only nineteen! That's not even a complete list of the things I've done, and yet there's so much to take from. A lot of that I did by the time I was sixteen! You have no excuses, only experiences. You just need to start thinking about your life and you'll realise that you've done things. They might not stick out at first - you might think you've had the same job for ten years, had the same friends, and done the same thing every single night, and been with the same man or woman for all that time and say, "That's not an experience." But I tell you this, everything is an experience, and every experience is something you can write about. Remember, context in your experiences is everything!

You've got your voice to go along with all of this. Now, this might seem a bit strange, but a lot of writers don't write the way they talk. They make their language more posh and try to be someone they're not. You don't have to do that too. You can write the way you want to write, because at the end of the day, it's your writing that you should be concerned with. Roddy Doyle, for example, wrote an entire novel in colloquialisms and look where he is! Use your own voice, or at least establish one for yourself that you're comfortable with. Don't try to write like everyone else if that's not what you want to do.

Now, you'll have to excuse me - ironically enough, while writing this I lost my train of thought and can't write any more. Go figure. But I think what I have here should help any writer out there understand what they have. Remember - you have your physical tools, but you also have you imagination, your experiences, your voice, and, and these are things I don't have time for detail, you have your own decisions for the story, and you know the characters. Believe it or not, even those fictional beings you made up can help you craft your tale.

Writer, I wish you good luck.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Grapevine

In these days of darkness, I'm stuck on the other side of the grapevine, waiting, always waiting, to see if more news will pop up in the media about Hughes and Hughes or Jonny Havron. So far, nothing new. Jonny is still missing, though the police have increased the search, and have handed out 3,000 flyers and 20 A3 posters. I can only help it helps piece the events together.

As for H&H, I was with the former staff of my branch today, talking about it. The boss told us how a few rumours are flying around, like that some of the shops might be swept up by other businesses. I don't know too many of the details, and I can't confirm that any of this is true, but he reckons that we'll know a lot more within the next week. And we should get our last pay slip.

I feel better today, though. I think blogging about my pain over everything has helped. I slept soundly last night, for the first time in a week, I might add, and I wasn't massively depressed meeting up with everyone. It was nice, actually. Sure, they all still need jobs, but they're joining the dole and for the most part taking advantage of their time.

As for my own job hunt... I haven't started it. I won't get my redundancy pay if I'm hired beforehand, so I don't see the point. Plus, I can use this time for college work and for editing. Most of the way through Meet Sam now, before I go into the rewrite. I haven't done this much work on the book since I first wrote it in November 2008. Sure, the word count isn't jumping up by several thousand a day, but I'm working out the finer details of the plot, and noticing the way I wrote the book all over again. I don't want to sound boastful, but I actually love this book! I love the way its written, the way the story is told, everything about it, except for the little bumps that need smoothing out. That's a good sign, I reckon. It means that I can finish this project, because it's something I really care about, something I can stand to work on for a long time.

Who knows, it might get me into the published author world... A man can dream, can't he?

Friday, March 5, 2010


I find myself in an inescapable moment of death, stuck reliving the horrid unfortunate deaths following my life, real and fictitious both. It seems, I might add, that my entire life is falling apart, piece by piece, with each loss contributing to a loss of my self.

I'm sure you're quite aware at the loss of my job. It's hard. It really is. Even with the inspirational message from Darren Shan, and the subsequent blog post about it, I find it hard to cope. I should be in work tomorrow, but instead I'm meeting up with my colleagues, where we may very well mope together over tea and coffee. My professional life as a bookseller has suffered a terrible death in itself.

A small number of you might also be aware of the missing Jonny Havron in York. It shouldn't affect me like it, does, as I've never met the guy face to face, but it does. The Internet has that strange power, the power denied by the ignorant masses, to bring people together as friends. Jonny was one of the early members of the Literary Den. I can never forget the important role he played in the building of the group. Without the participation of everyone in the group in the early days it would all have been for nothing. I don't want to think about the idea that Jonny might not be okay, but every time the thought rises, I pray to God that he turns up okay. Relatively speaking, of course. Whatever the case, it's the representative of the death of my ability to function properly online - I keep thinking about poor Jonny, and how there's no way of knowing if he's safe or not. I keep thinking that maybe, just maybe, he might be able to come back to talk to us, but that it might not happen, and that no matter what it will never be the same. We can never forget this week gone past.

Most recently, and perhaps most selfishly on my part, I feel the death of my iPod. This one seems to affect me most, or maybe it's the fact that it broke during the trust I gave to my brother to use it, but I promise you I'm not being selfish in the materialistic sense of the word. That iPod, it's screen, it's face, now shattered, was my way of easily keeping in touch with people. It was my access to Twitter and to email accounts, to Googling things when I needed to without the hassle of setting up my laptop. It's not entirely the fact that the iPod itself is broken, but the sense of loss I'm feeling regarding its loss, the inability to check up on things like the Jonny Havron story, or the story of my job, to see if there are any new developments. I feel almost entirely helpless without it. And to make matters worse, I've lost my main way of listening to music, which serves, for the most part, as my method of escaping from the world around me. I can drown out all the sorrow, all the noise, all my thoughts, in the music of artists I've come to know and love.

And then there's my own death. I have a problem with this, in that it's a fear, perhaps irrational, though perhaps not. I don't fear the dying. The lack of being able to fulfil my dreams, yes, I fear that. But mainly it's the idea of my dying, in that its in my head and at my own hands, by my own will. I've faced this problem before. I can't escape it, but I think by finally telling someone, anyone, I can at least try get passed it.

I see myself jumping. It has to be from a cliff, right after I've apologised for doing it, in advance of the leap itself. There aren't sufficient tall buildings in Ireland - only a cliff would do. I fall, I fall so far, and then I stop. I'm gone. And it repeats. It's a dream, and a nightmare, and a stray thought of the otherwise consious mind. It's a haunting in my mind I can't escape, and something that scares the living daylights out of me. I feel it in my stomach, in my heart and in my head, the pounding of fear and nerves as everything closes in on me, time pouring from my hands. No matter how hard I try to hold on to it, I can't. I lose it every second of every minute, of the hours in the days of the weeks that go by without so much progress as I'd hoped, and even less time left than I started with.

But I can't jump, not really. I have too much to live for, too much to learn both in college and about myself. And I've begun a journey of life, chosen the lonely path of a writer, but it's a path I freely accepted, knowing that even with my friends at the other end of a text or a call, or even right across the table from me, I can be the loneliest person in the world.

My real tragedy is that I can't tell them. I can't tell them how I'm absolutely terrified of every single thing I submit for my continuous assessment, and that's the reason I don't get the results. I can't tell them that I don't want to go to the ball because I don't want a repeat of my debs, where I really was the loneliest person in the building. I can't tell them that the drama society has begun more pressure than I wanted, and about the pain in my stomach when I think about how I might ruin the entire thing for everyone. I can't admit to the fact that I have problems to my friends, because I still have the other fear that my lonely life as a writer will become the lonely life of a writer who really, really can't get along with friends.

And every day I die because of it. I've never been so honest in my life, mind you. I lie every second of every minute I'm in public. I wear my silly smile every day, and make my annoying cheer of greeting to my friends every time I see them. Okay, so I'm not faking my joy at seeing them, but I do keep up a higher mood than I'm really feeling. I've been doing it for years. I can never, never, let someone inside my head, to let them know that I am, in fact, a complete loony toon, desperately depressed sometimes, torn between crying and just running away. Except then there'd be questions asked of me, and I don't think I could answer them, any of them. Because, and this is what I tell the world, there's nothing wrong with me. I'm just sick. I'm just tired.

I've been acting for years, now, and yet that fecking drama society has me struggling. The problem is that I do two things in life - happy, sometimes to an annoying extent, and serious, sometimes to a scary extent. I can never be that domineering person I'm supposed to be in the play, the one who strikes fear in his pupil, because I'm the one who, every day, has to pretend I'm not afraid of failing to meet the expectations of the world around me. When I try to be someone else, someone no one knows me to be, then they see the real me, the terrified boy who doesn't know what to do and who's frozen with his terror, so he can't act on it.

These are the truths of my life; these are the deaths in my life; these are my worst kept secrets, posted to you, with my name freely attached. I'm not looking for anything out of this... okay, some comfort would be nice. It would be bloody wonderful, in fact, but that's not why I posted this. I just... I think I just had to get it all off my chest. It's been bothering me for far too long to keep it a secret any more.

That's... yeah, that's all I have to say about this subject. I think I might finally sleep on this knowledge, knowing the world can know, if it cares enough to know.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Constant Struggle

I find my days are becoming something of a danger to my mind; one Friday, I was in very obvious shock at having lost my job, almost voicelessness by the time I went to bed. Saturday, following the email from Darren Shan, I'd been elated. That carried on until Sunday, but the past two days, I've wasted my time on games rather than on writing, and my mood has dropped right down again. I keep realising the fact that I have no job to go to this weekend, and then there's all my college work mounting up, the drama competition in just over a week, and before I know it I'm into my teaching practice, then my exams.

In the next three months, everything big in the college year is about to hit me all at once. And I still don't know if I'm going to the ball. I would have liked to have the decision made before I lost my job so I'd have no going back, but now the cost of the tickets and the clothes I'd have to get is just frightening. I know I don't have bills to pay, but I'd like to that, if I can't get a job, I'd at least have some way to continue to fund my social life, with both college friends and secondary school friends. And there's all the birthdays...

I've got five coming up in April. While Karl doesn't expect, and actually argues against, gifts, I still don't feel right not getting him anything. And the others... well, my dad and my older brother have to get a present, no doubt, and it's actually the latter's twenty-first... bugger. I wanted to be able to treat him properly at this time, not keep an eye on the money in my account when picking out what to get him. Then there's Sam and Sophie... I haven't seen Sam in months! Literally months. I've no idea what to get either of them.

And then add on the Poetry Against Cancer book... I'm looking forward to it, yes, but it's going to take a lot of time and energy to get this thing promoted.

Meanwhile, my reading for my tutorial tomorrow still isn't done, and I really can't concentrate on it. And I've got to think about something for my liturgy lecture tomorrow... I can feel a headache coming on just thinking about it.

To make matters worse, and I didn't think that after losing my job things could get worse, Jonny Havron has gone missing. For those of you who don't know, Jonny's a member of the Literary Den. He was, in fact, one of the earlier members. We all got to know him very well. But he hasn't been seen since Friday night. Andy texted me yesterday about it, but I never got around to blogging about it. Andy blogged about it, with details such as news articles and the number to call if you have any info. I urge you, if you know anything to help, please get in touch with the appropriate authorities.

Okay, I'm spent. Too much crap going on to write anymore. If reading this has brought you down, then I'm sorry. It's not my aim to get to people like that, only to vent so that I might feel better by the time I'm done... I kind of do, since it means I've actually written something today. It's not just consolation, though...