Sunday, September 25, 2011

At Least an Hour?

So, I'm writing a play? Did I mention that enough? Did I mention it's called The Rest is Silence? What, several times? Well, I finished writing the first draft of it on Thursday. I've been typing it all up, since. With one scene left to type, I have discovered that it's a lot shorter than I had envisaged it being.

One word: frick.

It needs to fit the standard length of a play, which equates to at least an hour. The Rest is Silence is nowhere near that long, I don't think. I mean, I still have to do a reading of the play to see how long - in terms of time, not pages - it is, but it's still too long. I need to flesh it out a bit.

Thankfully, I have a couple of things to help me do that: my first NaNoWriMo experience, and the original not-written-down plan for The Rest is Silence, when it was just 'that play I'm going to write soon'.

The first NaNoWriMo experience was for Meet Sam. My initial plan left a sizeable gap in the timeline of the book, and it was something I was okay with leaving. Until it came to writing and I was way behind the desired word count for where I was in the book. So I had to fill in that timeline with some more events, though the actual plot of the novel never actually changed.

The original plan of the play had a couple of things that didn't make it into the written plan. Of course, mostly I had just forgotten. But I still remember what I planned with them. I'll have to call on them and write these scenes as soon as possible. I think that means more disappearing tomorrow morning! I have a habit of doing that.

The problem is that I need to listen to the play once or twice, after recording it, to make sure that (a) it sounds right and (b) it looks right in my mind's eye when I look at the stage with the dialogue being spoken. I'm a very visual writer, in that sense. If I can see somewhere I'm going to write about, I will. With the college plays, that just means locking myself up in a particular lecture room when no-one's there, because the plays go on there.

If I can finish writing the additional scenes tomorrow and finish typing it all up shortly thereafter, then I'll be fine. Ish. I'll also have to record myself reading the play tomorrow night to have any hope of finishing up on time. Then I'll have to do the play-back sessions, most likely long after lectures on Tuesday. Wednesday, I have plans. Tuesday morning, I have plans. But I need it all done to print off on Thursday morning and hand to the head of the Drama Soc and say: 'Here it is, it's done, please show the director!' At which point I will run away as far as possible, until I collapse from exhaustion.

But that's college for you.

In other news, I found out about a new museum I can include in the Writers' Soc plans. The Little Museum of Dublin was discussed on Twitter, earlier; it contains artefacts (can't say that word without thinking Warehouse 13...) from 20th century Dublin, tying in perfectly with my plans to try and see The James Joyce Museum. Which reminds me... I need to arrange a Writers' Soc meeting soon, don't I?

Third year is tiring and we've barely even started!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Clubs and Socs 2011

Today, the first years got their first taste at Clubs and Societies at my college, though there was a lot less space than usual. They recently renovated the canteen to separate it from the entrance, but that's given us a lot less room to put up tables and whatnot. We made do with what we had, and though it was a little squashed, we got by with it.

While the first years got to have a look at a lot of the older societies, like the soccer team, the GAA team, the Trad Soc (I think it was there again, this year!) and the History Soc, I was one of the people to set up a new society: a Writers' Soc. The apostrophe is intentional: this isn't just a society of writers, it's the society owned by writers. On the list of new societies this year, I was joined by: the Dancing Society, the Running Club, and the Tea Society. Yes, tea. They want to get people together to drink tea. Plain and simple.

I was in a tiny little table in the corner of the room with the Drama Soc representative (Pinkie). We competed over sign-ups, even though we're both on the Drama Soc and we're both running the Writers' Soc. We started a trend of people putting posters up behind us on the glass, while I shouted things like "We're cooler than we look!" See, I can act.

The fun part was when one of the new first years came up and said "I was hoping one of these would be set up", and proceeded to sign-up for the Writers' Soc. Fantastic.

Of course, a lot of people were curious about the Writers' Soc. We're new, it's understandable. We didn't even have anything to show them to say how frickin' awesome we really were, except for our plans for the society. I say we... I mean me. Like I said: competing with Pinkie. Everyone got the same answer:

  • We're going to put together a book of short stories and poetry by the students of the college
  • We're going to (hopefully) organise workshops for students
  • We're going on museum* visits
  • We're going to run a competition or two
  • We're going to set up an online magazine
The latter will be free. Entirely. The only thing it will require, aside from articles, is the time involved to run it and write it. I'll be setting it up on Wordpress, which will also help to show people how easy it is to do something like that themselves. I was considering an ad-based magazine, but that would be too tricky and it would mean adding to our already tight budget.

On that note, I spent last night and today emailing printers and museums for prices. I found a couple of printers in Ireland that I liked, but so far the cost of them is too high. The museums are also cheaper than I first anticipated, so that will be of a huge help to us in our budget. While I have no doubt that the Student Union will support a new society with absolutely nothing to show for itself, there's also a sense of having to be realistic about this: the soccer team need new jerseys (and have needed them for years), the Gaelic players keep stealing the jerseys they use, the History Soc wants to organise a potentially expensive trip and there are two other new societies this year that may or may not require a lot of money. Drama always needs enough for costumes, ISDA membership and stage requirements, and transport (of the set, cast and crew). The budget for everyone will be tight.

Hopefully, we're not asking for too much. I'd like to have a college-specific workshop, rather than go for free open-to-the-public workshops. I will need to inquire about what happens if our book actually makes a profit when it's printed, of course. Will we get to use that money ourselves for the society? Will it help us next year when we look for (at least) the same amount of funding? I would like to think so. Thankfully, the enthusiasm of the writers who really wanted to join the society seems to be a display of real interest in making it all work.

* Okay, time for a silly little mistake I made. You'll notice it's beside the word 'museum'. Somehow, I managed to spell it wrong on my little sheet to say what we're doing in the society. A lecturer pointed it out. I can spell museum. I always spell it correctly when I type. But I hand-wrote it, and suddenly my inner-editor went into NaNoWriMo mode and I didn't seem to care enough (at eleven at night) about correct spelling. So I messed it up (just the 'e' and 'u' the wrong way around). All I can say is... oops.

I'm really looking forward to getting this society going properly. Once I have the budget submitted, I'll be calling a get-together type meeting to see what people want to do, where their interests lie, and generally get to know them. My experience is that writers are awesome people, and that's not meant to be self-flattering. Every writer I've met has been interesting, relatively easy to get along with and they tend not to shy away from my somewhat confusing eccentricities. Would it be too weird to wear my Pizza John Green or NERD t-shirts to the first meeting?

One thing I can mention, of course, is that I have a lot of experience in this field. While I may not have a novel published, I have written a lot. I also set up an online writers' group when I was sixteen, which later produced a book of short stories for charity. I edited a poetry book for charity. I've been keeping a blog for over three years and I just launched a website. This is pretty much the type of things the society needs to launch properly: a neurotic, writing-obsessed oddball like myself. Yes, I realise that may sound like a weird way to describe myself, but you know what: I embrace this weirdness. Hopefully it'll help a few people follow their writing dreams!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

One Week In

So, I'm a week into the website, and a week into college. Well, third year of college. That makes me feel older. A lot older. The past two years have gone by so quickly, and so much has changed since then. But that's a story for another day.

So, the website hasn't had much added to it since the novella excerpt, the short story, the poems, the articles and the Doctor Haik-Who. I've added two more haiku and one more poem, but right now the list of new material on the site is lacking. This will change, over time. There will most definitely be more short stories over the next few months. For the time being, I'm trying to get a couple of them submitted to different publications. Others will find their way directly online. That's just the way it is.

Quick question though: what genre of story would people like to read?

  1. Fantasy? (Including Urban Fantasy)
  2. Science Fiction? (Including Speculative Fiction and Superhero Fiction)
  3. Horror? (Including Dark Comedy - something that should both make you laugh and disturb you a little)
  4. General fiction? (Like the story already on the website, Dear World)
Cast your vote for the genre of your choice and I'll write the story. Voting closes September 29th. I have a few ideas, so I'll just go with whatever people want to read with this one. (Vote in the comments below, please. You don't need a Blogger account to do so.)

Poems and articles will find their way to the website more easily. Some articles will require a lot more effort than others, so they will take a little bit longer to write, but they will make it there!

As for college... When did it get so tiring? This further emphasises the pain of feeling older. In first year, I was able to sit through lectures quite easily. Now I'm struggling to stay awake. While I have all 10am starts (much better than a 9am start!), I'm also in quite late. The earliest I'm off, aside from Fridays, is 4.30pm. But then other days I have lectures until 6pm. We haven't even started with clubs and societies yet!

I think my main issue is my sleeping pattern. I'm staying up too late, even if I still go to bed relatively early. My other issue is laziness. Fact.

It's been a good first week, back, though. While I haven't been able to talk to some people as much as I'd wanted to, I've survived our first assignment (that felt like homework...) and I'm very happy with the optional modules that I got. I'll be off to France for a few days later in the year for one of them! How cool is that?

Of course, everything will get even busier once the second week starts, but with the way everything is timetabled, it'll be Christmas before we know it! Which is frickin' scary, on account of Teaching Practice in January. Before I know it, then, it'll be my birthday and I'll definitely be old! (Or, eh, old enough to legally drink in the US...)

A good first week overall, for the website and college. I'm hoping more people will find their way to the website, soon, though. I think it's getting lonely. For now, cast your vote for the story and if you have time, download the sample chapters of Stepping Forward! I'm looking for reviews! There may even be a competition in that, sometime soon!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Website is a Go!

My website is launched! It can be found here:

It's been a relatively long road. Well, six weeks. I decided, at the very end of July after finished Camp NaNoWriMo, to set up a website. The idea was simple: I would write articles on the website, I would post short stories and poems, and that would be that. I would run it through

That's how it started. I set up a account, and I got things on the roll. Then I thought, I could run other things through this! And that's what I will be doing. I have ideas in place, some of which will appear sooner than others, that will be ad supported. I'm not a fan of ads on my own personal space, which is what this blog and the main part of the website will be, but when it comes to these other ideas, ads will be fine.

But that's way into the future (in one case, but not necessarily another). For now, I've got a set list of features on the website.

It functions like a blog, categorised and organised neatly so that it represents the two sides to how I work: with my head and with my heart. The "head" work is the articles under Writing Advice. The advice ranges from (very) basic legal advice to the basics of writing that I picked up over the years to a guide to what I call 50K in 30 Days, which is essentially NaNoWriMo. I've done it enough to know how to do it properly, and my "win" this summer in the Camp version was the final piece of encouragement I needed to try help people do it too. First drafts are important.

The "heart" work, then, is the Writing Samples section. This includes short stories, poems and Doctor Haik-Who. The last one is for a bit of fun and variety. I have specific niche talents and especially nerdy hobbies, and if I hide that fact from the world I'd be lying through my teeth (or fingers...).

Two ideas I have for expanding on what I offer the world - the ad based things I mentioned - also play on the "head" and "heart" of my writing. One will be an article site, the other a fiction based site, both attached directly to my website. For now, they will remain hidden (though I think some people can already guess the fiction based site!).

Combining the "head" and the "heart" is the Free Downloads section. I'll be adding downloadable pieces to the website through this section. Already there are opening chapters from a novella I wrote in Summer 2010, called Stepping Forward. I won't even attempt to explain it to you. The .PDF file features the opening five chapters, which should give you a pretty good idea of what the book is about, without giving away too much! It's short, of course, being a novella, but it's a fun book as far as I'm concerned! It didn't bore me in the editing process, anyway, and I normally can't stand to look back on things I've written!

There will be other things added to this section of the website, which you can find out about through my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages (links in the sidebar!), as well by checking out the News section, part of About. This About section has an author bio (er... my bio), the News section and a Writing Progress section. That last one is just a short page on what I'm working on. It's generally for larger projects than, say, my latest article for The Phantom Zone.

Aside from that, though, the website is like any other, right? I mean, the Free Downloads section isn't on every website, but it's not unique. I wanted this to be a new type of experience. Yes, there are plenty of ways to get in touch with me that make me a little more accessible than some authors, but I wanted to personalise my website more. So I set up a Skype account.

Yes, Skype.

In the sidebar of my website, you'll see three buttons. The first is to add me to your contacts list. I will generally accept all requests. The second button is to see my status - you'll know when I'm online just by looking at my website. The third button is to call me. It's as simple as that.

This enables people to meet the author! I'm not published, but I've seen lots of people who aren't published and who have websites and one thing you can't do is meet them unless you know them. I've spoken to dozens of authors online, but rarely face-to-face! I want to give people that option. My face is already on the website, so I don't have to worry about that aspect of it. And I only have to appear online when I'm free to talk. It's as simple as that.

One last thing about the downloads, though. They're free, but they're password protected. The passwords will be available on the website. The point isn't to stop people accessing the writing, but to stop spambots accessing it easily. I figured this was the best way to do it. Sorry for the inconvenience, but hopefully you think it's worth it!

So there it is, my website is launched and ready to go. I hope you enjoy it, and feedback is appreciated!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Once More With Feeling

The past couple of days have been... well, different. Finally getting a chance to talk to somebody (albeit only through Facebook mail), we came to a conclusion that for the time being we need space. There's too many things that need to settle before we can really talk properly, again, but it didn't feel like I'd lost a friend. I don't think I did, anyway. We've done this before, but this time it's really necessary. Yes, I was upset when it happened, but once I calmed down... well, I've been happy. It feels right, this space between us - we set it up, it didn't just happen badly and for no reason. Things didn't end.

To keep myself busy, last night, I started to edit a novella I wrote last summer called Stepping Forward. I'd planned to edit the first three chapters, but I discovered that when the time came to do it they were much shorter than I anticipated! So I just kept on working. And working. And working. And I finished editing the book.

I'd been fairly happy with the first draft, when I wrote it, and the one person that actually read it (the friend mentioned above) liked it, so when I finally tidied it up I was delighted! It's been over a year since I wrote it, first, and in the space of a single night I got the finished book together! I will probably be doing a cover for it at some stage, as I'm wont to do, but for now I'm calling that book finished!

This morning, I then wrote a scene of The Rest is Silence. I have a lot of work to do on that play, but my ideas for it are exciting. This morning's scene was probably one of the more challenging ones... though there are still some major things to happen that will require a lot of emotional energy from the actors! I hope they get what the play's about!

To bring the day to a close, I made a banner for my website. As I write this, there's a badly-done version sitting on the website. The lovely Lisa Sills is redoing it for me, and the results so far are great! I can't wait until I have something to show the world as being my official banner for my website. Sure, I didn't do the finished piece, but the idea behind its design was mine! People have given it some good feedback, so clearly I did something right.

Between now and Sunday, I have to finish up with everything on the site - that means hosting, a domain name, the finished banner and getting it all set up properly. It's going to be an exciting few days. The plan is to release the website on Sunday, when people will have access to everything I've been working on the past month and a half. This is my gateway into the world wide web, going beyond what I've ever set up. All the little bits and pieces of my life are coming together on this site.

Feedback on everything will be greatly appreciated! Until then... my thanks go out to:

  • Rebecca Woodhead, for her advice in everything I've done of late. This is both advice she's given me personally and things she's written about in Writing Magazine. I couldn't have done this without her.
  • Lisa Sills, for her help in the banner and her continued support in this project.
  • The aforementioned friend, for everything before this website. I couldn't have put together so much if there wasn't someone out there who made me feel like it was worth it. No one else continually gave me the encouragement to write and to be myself like he did, without greed, malice or spite. The very last thing he said to me was the final bit of encouragement I needed.
  • The friends who continually make me happy; the smartest girl in college who I can tell pretty much anything, the comic book girl who gets my little eccentricities, the Ninjas who make me laugh even when being in a bad mood is easier and the long-time friends I kept from secondary school who never fail to offer new and interesting insights into the world, none of whom have even begun to bore me after all these years!
This website is everything I could want it to be; parts of it were put together with my head, and parts of it were put together with my heart. Sometimes I fail to use either one of them, but not in this case. This feels like something has finally been done correctly.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Near Death Experience

Yesterday was worrying. For the fish in the work. Yes, the fish. They almost died. Like, actually almost died. The pump stopped working. No more air was going into the tank. Sometimes people forget that fish need to breathe oxygen. And when the pump stops sending it into the water, that spells trouble.

First thing to do? Check the fusebox. The electrician's-brother in me did that first. The switch was down, and it wasn't staying up. (No innuendos, please.)

Next step? Check to see what's wrong. The fuse might have blown, or something else stopped working. It wasn't the lights, anyway. They would have just gone off. So we got an extension lead from the centre security guards, plugged the pump in and... nothing.

That gave us a new problem. It wasn't just a fusebox problem. It was a pump problem. An expensive pump. The natural reaction was to call the local (very local) pet shop for help, but they could only help us with the fish. So a fish-tank company were called. They arrived right before closing time, meaning someone had to stay behind (thankfully it wasn't me, because I wasn't in the shop at that stage!)

The new pump was installed, with the little note that if we'd waited a single day... well, the fish would have asphyxiated. You know what that means, right? We saved their lives! Super booksellers to the rescue! And we had our pet shop, security and pump-installer friends to help us! Hip-hip hurray!

The madness of the fish's near death experience was surrounded on all sides by screaming children, pouting adults and books being put in the wrong place... none of which were connected to the fish, of course, but they didn't help. It was an eventful weekend, to say the least! But it wasn't all bad. The fish were alive and well when we got into the shop (and when we left!), various assorted problems were sorted out and now my co-worker gets to enjoy a trip to Japan. I got almost everything ready for my website, so it won't be long before I'm ready to launch it! I'm hoping for a September 11th launch (I may have already said that a dozen times...).

In the meantime, I've secured my username for my X-Men story. I figured it was best to do that now, rather than wait and risk it being taken. Now I just need to actually write the story. I still think it's going to be amazing. Probably less disturbing than the fish almost dying, too. At least I'm in control of who lives and dies!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Deadlines Approaching!

My website is, hopefully, being launched on September 11th. I have a lot of stuff to do between now and then, but I chose the date for one reason and one reason only: it's the day before I go back to college. I want to have the website up and running with content to view (and share?) before then, but I'd be too pushed for time to try get everything done before then.

Because I slacked a little the past couple of days, I have to play catch-up on my workload. I've got to write four scenes of The Rest is Silence, which will be no small feat, and that's only one of the many things I have to do. Thankfully it's also the only explicitly creative goal for the day, the rest being website work, editing, etc.

I have to finish editing a short story - the first short story that will be going on my website. That's my primary concern, because I don't want that section to be blank when I launch. The story is called Dear World, but I can't tell you much more about it without spoiling it. It's something I hope people like, that they can maybe connect to, but that I mainly wrote upon seeing a publication opportunity. It wasn't accepted, but then I didn't really believe it would be. I still like the story, though, so I'm posting it online. I just don't believe in posting on a website someone else set up. This is my baby, so it's staying in my house.

Once that's all done, I have to get some poems selected for the launch of the site. I'm not the best poet in the world, but some of the stuff I've shown people has been liked, so I'm going to share it through the website. I sometimes write with particular people in mind, other times I find the connection with a person after it's written. (Classic example in my novel Meet Sam was realising how much like Nick a friend from college was, who I didn't meet until ten months after the novel was written!)

To finish off my day, I have to type up articles for the website. I have five categories for non-fiction on the website, and each one needs a piece written in it by launch day. Of course, I need more pieces to post in the future, which is where next week's workload comes in. I have to write more articles, edit something, get more poems ready, and work on the banner. Still working that one out, mind you!

See, I have deadlines for a lot of stuff. All the basics for the website need to be ready by the 11th at the latest, but preferably the 10th. My play, The Rest is Silence, needs to be written, typed and edited by the time college starts back on the 12th. I'm not in until the afternoon, but I don't want to be working on it, then. I have a deadline list, and the play needs to be finished so I can write my novels throughout the college year, while continuing to work on the website and for The Phantom Zone, and then I'll get into the heavy planning stage of my X-Men story that I've been talking about on Twitter and Facebook; that needs to be planned in some details by December 10th.

I might be mad with the amount of work I'm taking on, but I wholly believe it's possible to do all of this. And hey, there's a reason I chose December 10th - Christmas break! I will finally be able to collapse, then, after a tiring first semester! (I'm not entirely sure of the date I'm off, but that's my deadline, anyway!) In the meantime, I have to get a lot of other stuff ready, before I even go back to college. I don't think I'll ever stop working, you know that? It's like I'd heard on the radio, and mentioned a short while ago, a professional does the work even when he doesn't feel like it. Thankfully I happen to know some amazing people who will make the winding-down periods in my life so much better!