Sunday, August 18, 2013


Today something occurred to me while watching Buffy: I can adapt a short story I wrote a few years ago into a full-length novel. That might need some explaining. For instance, how does Buffy the Vampire Slayer come into it at all?

Rewind back to 2007/2008. A Buffy re-run came on television while I was trying to come up with an idea for a short story for The Literary Den Book of New Fiction 2008. Willow was talking to the First, before knowing what it was, and once of the First's lines triggered the story in my head. Just like that, I had my idea for a short story.

I loved that story. I really did. It's not perfect, but I think I can work with a larger (much larger) word count now, with some added disturbances and oddities and madness to throw into the mix to create a much darker and held-together story. I can also give it a much better title than What's in the Box? I'll be honest, when I was 16/17, that sort of title seemed cool to me.

How things change, right?

Anyway, I think that's something I can consider for the next while, turning that idea for a short story into a darker tale, and a longer tale, and really create the story I'd wanted to tell then in greater detail and with greater skill. I've grown as an author since then. I've grown as a person, too, and a lot has happened since then, and I think I can create a much better story now than I could when I was a teenager.

That's significant for me, because when I was fifteen I was convinced that my very first novel was going to be a bestseller. Without the editing. Without realising that different publishers looked for different things. Without realising that the book wasn't written very well. And I don't like it's title anymore.

That's obviously another book I can work on, though neither of these are near the top of the To Be Written pile. I have other books to work on, first, and other things that need doing. I think the whole "sorting out my life" thing has to happen sooner rather than later. (Okay, that makes it sound like I did something to screw up... I just finished college and did quite well with my exams and research paper and teaching placement... I didn't exactly screw up in that department.)

Basically, I need some stability in my life before I try to write a dozen books at once. And even then that's not a good idea. But sure, at least I have things to work with, and a game plan. First, I adapt to life as I know it. Then, I adapt my stories.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Brief Note on Saying Goodbye

Tonight I said goodbye to three of my best friends. Over the next couple of weeks, they're leaving the country, each for least one year. I've had friends leave before, but not three at once.

I could say it's easier having given them going-away presents and getting to see them one last time before graduation. I could say it, but I don't know if I believe it. It's certainly more real, now, since we've given them our gifts, but I don't think anything could make it easier.

Over the past four years, a bunch of us from various parts of the country have grown close. We've faced essays, exams, Friday morning lectures, Teaching Placement, weird masses, explicit films and bad hangovers together. We've celebrated birthdays and Christmases and completing exams. Now, though we face departure and new currencies and strange cultures and different timezones, we can still celebrate new beginnings. New jobs at home and abroad, new challenges academic, social and professional, new lives to be explored and survived and celebrated.

Life won't be the same with them gone, but even goodbye and good luck doesn't mean The End. We might not see each other often, any of us, but I don't believe this can ever keep us apart.

We're friends despite national borders and county lines, no matter how long it takes to get us all in the same room again.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Working 9-5

I've made a decision. From Monday onwards, I'm going to work 9-5. While I have a make a quick trip into the city centre on Monday, too, I'm going to make sure that I get in early enough to get what I need to do done quickly. No browsing, no staying around for lunch.

The reason I want to do this is so: (1) it sets up boundaries for me for when I work, (2) it'll encourage me to do something all the time and (3) it means I know when I can muck about, and when I can't. Since I can't afford a social life next week, it's the perfect time to test my self-imposed life of working 9-5.

I imagine it'll be a case of me being bored out of my mind by Tuesday, but sure what can you do?

Actually, that's probably not entirely true. I'm in the middle of making a wee project a reality. I've got my Options sheet (all typed up and pretty) to give me work. I know how to get myself to do things. I plan on spending a wee bit of time drawing up a list of things I can write about, and a list of other tasks I can do, and I imagine it'll keep me busy for the week.

I may even set myself deadlines for things. Imagine that, me with deadlines and working creative-filled shifts.

I jest, a bit, but I'm actually serious about this. I think I can manage working 9-5. I'll be sure to tweet, too, to make it look like I'm a one-man business. Businesses tweet all the time, right? (That's a rhetorical question. I know they do. The pile of free books I received through Twitter competitions is proof of that. Paulie loves free books.)

I'm thinking, aside from one little thing that I've been working on that only my brothers know about, I'll work on getting some flash fiction written, and sending off a bunch of poetry, and finishing The Blood of Leap and designing a cover for it, and addressing a novel I've been meaning to work on for a while.

You know, nothing too stressful.

The way I see it, I can sit at home playing games online and watching seven series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or I can work from home and actually, maybe, make something of myself in a nerdy writer type of way, and still have time in the evenings to do other things that tickle my fancy. What a way to make a living, right?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tiny Umbrella

I was in town today (or, as people who don't live in Dublin call it, the city centre), and it started to rain. This tends to happen during the summer in Ireland. We're perpetually cursed to suffer bad weather at any point in the year, despite any preconceptions you might have about the seasons.

So, since it was raining and I didn't have my large umbrella with me, I resorted to the emergency tiny umbrella I'd bought a couple of weeks ago and decided to leave in my bag from then on. The problem is, it's not exactly big enough for two people. Heck, it's barely big enough for one person. I still ended up getting wet when I was the only one under the umbrella.

But that wasn't the only problem. See, when I have my large umbrella, it's a little bit easier to raise it above other umbrellas, the ones that people walking towards me are holding. I can still be covered, but I also don't get snagged on people's umbrella's. With the tiny umbrella, (and I'm really getting sick of typing that word) I can't raise it. It's barely a foot and a half in length, which brings it about to the height of other people's umbrella's even when I stretch up. It's also more likely to break if it gets caught in the wind. It was cheap. And I can't just lower it down under other umbrella's, because my head tends to be occupying that space.

Long story short, I end up clash brollies with strangers in Dublin.

Thankfully it wasn't raining too heavily today. I was able to get home and not soak the house on my way up the stairs to change out of my wet clothes. But since it was a rain day, I was perfectly justified in sitting about drinking tea for a while. It's the one advantage of unseasonably bad weather all year round: it's almost always acceptable to drink tea the moment you get home. Not that the sun stops me.

Aside from the rain, though, I had a fairly good day. And that was also aside from the fact that I was out buying going-away presents for friends. Still, I figure it's easier to deal with them leaving if I can convince myself they're getting something nice to take with them.

After all the rain and the shopping and the tea, I got on with another batch of Things. Again, only a couple of people know what I'm actually talking about, but it's getting there, and it's fun. I have some more work to do on it, but it's nearing the point where I get to make it public and fun and exciting.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


You might recall my trouble sleeping the other night. I had some things on my mind. Part of it was to do with work (and my still only working weekends on minimum wage after six years in the place), and part of it was to do with September and its great big Nothingness. There's also a change in the house around then, and that's just one more thing to consider.

So, I re-wrote out my 'solutions' list, neatly, and put it away safely. I've addressed something new and exciting that came up today. And to further address the worries that September brings, I brainstormed my options.

Setting an online timer, I had three minutes to write down as many different things I could do that would affect both my work and September problems at the same time. While there's no direct need to leave the bookshop for most of the options, because most of them aren't instant-return, and don't require complete availability on my part, I did include that.

Don't get me wrong: I don't want to leave the bookshop. I just want to be able to do something more than weekends at such a low wage, and not feel like I need them more than they need me. In six years, the management haven't exactly made me feel as if I'm an essential and valued part of the team, which really sucks. It could just be me, now, at this point in my life, blowing it all out of proportion, but I don't think so. I don't even have keys to the shop, despite it being mentioned two or three times over the past couple of years that I should probably be given a set (which would make arranging hours easier, since I could open and close the shop if need be.)

So, with those niggling doubts over my value to the shop, I have my list. I need to type it up and make it official, but my options are now there in front of me.

I'll break it down for you. A lot of it involves writing in one way or another. One option is crafty. A couple are business-y. One's even a learning thing, just so I'm doing something in September (I was thinking one of those free online something.)

The value in this exercise is that, while life seems to be at an impasse, I can still make choices to change things. One thing's for certain though: I'll have to start setting an alarm and working every day at regular hours. My motivation has gone way down without structure to the day. Now I have lots of different options I can choose from. I know I'll probably get started on a couple of them sooner rather than later, too, because I can. They don't require me to do much aside from getting myself out of this chair. (Though, inevitably I'll have to return to the chair for the computer parts of these things.)

What I'm saying is, while the post-college blues might be setting in, I have a way out. I have many ways out, in fact, and I think it's about time I followed through on them.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Subscribers, wha'?

On Friday, I launched ParagraVerse, my new prose and poetry blog. With that, came Bed, my horror flash fiction story. Today, the first Tuesday since the launch day, I put up the first poem to the site: The Stars Went Out and Left Us Behind.

What I have noticed in each case is that (a) I have gotten a few 'likes' from other Wordpress users, (b) I have gotten at least one comment per post and (c) at least one person has subscribed each time. And just for the record, these aren't bragging rights.

In fact, the only reason I'm highlighting this is because people ask me (rather often, in fact) which blogging platform they should use. While Blogger is fully Google-integrated, it's labels don't do much for helping other Blogger users find your posts. I've also found that it's a slightly longer process to subscribe to someone's blog via Blogger.

Wordpress, on the other hand, while not totally Google-integrated, allows for other Wordpress users to find blog posts more easily. (This is true of, not of using the .org self-hosting option.) What this means, of course, is that more people you don't know can find your post more easily just by searching a tag, or by seeing your post pop up in the Freshly Pressed section of Subscribing is also a much quicker process.

Let's make it clear: I didn't set up ParagraVerse for subscribers. I set it up to share prose and poetry. However, subscribers are a sign to me that people are interested in reading what I've written. I don't, and won't, display my subscriber numbers (unless running a competition when I reach X amount of subscribers - then I'd need to display it to prove it) because the subscribers are, to me, the people who want to read my work, not the number I can show people who come to the site.

The advantage of having subscribers, of course, is that the task of sending your work to people is done for you by their action of subscribing. While I will always post a link on the various social media sites I use to new poems and stories, not everyone who reads them is necessarily following me on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

And, while I'm talking about it, I'd like to openly thank everyone who has thus far (a) subscribed, (b) commented on, (c) liked and/or (d) read Bed or The Stars Went Out and Left Us Behind. It means a lot to me to receive such positive feedback after so little work has gone up. I hope you'll stick with me as I add to the collection of stories and poems over the coming months.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Creative Block?

Okay, that title might be pushing it. I don't quite have a block on my creativity as much as a severe case of The Lazies. I'm still getting ideas and planning stories, but I'm not doing anything with them.

And that, as you can guess, is a problem.

So, I'm going to spend a wee bit of time in the morning trying to get my creative gears going. I may end up doing some crafty stuff, like drawing or Celtic designs, but I'd like to get some poetry written and a flash story written, too. Basically, anything to get myself doing something with my time.

It's been too easy to play Pokémon Yellow all day, and follow it up with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's my childhood all over again, except I can do it all day long.

(As it happens, I did something earlier, but it will remain, for a wee while, a secret. It's not done yet, so I don't really want to show it around. I'm calling it a prototype.)

We watched a movie today, though. Myself, my brother and my dad all sat down and watched Jack the Giant Slayer. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Funny, adventurous, and with clever twists on the story we all know. If you haven't seen it, I would definitely recommend it. It's especially good as a family movie (and I don't just mean families with young children!)

Anyway, I'm going to keep this short. There's tea to be had, stuff to be read, and if the television is free, Buffy to watch. Tomorrow, I'm going to beat The Lazies to death. Creative block my arse.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Did you know that I liked tea? You know, aside from that blog post in which I showed Instagrammed pictures of cups of tea, and all those times I've mentioned tea here and on Twitter and Facebook and Google+, did you know that I liked tea?

It's an essential part of my day. I think I'd go mad without my tea. I almost did when I was in Taizé a couple of years ago. I survived on hot chocolate and water, and meals that I could only questionably be called food. (Or food that could only questionably be called a meal... a bowl of cold cocoa, two sticks of dark chocolate and an almost-stale loaf of bread smaller than my fist don't really constitute a healthy breakfast.)

The two things I craved most upon returning from Taizé were a cup of tea and a home-cooked meal. (That was both real food, and a meal-sized portion.)

However, tea isn't just necessary for my survival. I write with a cup of tea. In the summer of 2010, when I was writing some novellas, my busiest writing day consisted of a cup of tea for every 1200 words or so. It was a 10,000 word day, so you can imagine I drank a lot of tea.

And, of course, upon completing the writing of a book, the first thing I do is make myself a cup of tea. It's a no-distractions cup of tea, too. I don't bring my tablet with me. I don't carry a notebook. I just sit there and enjoy my tea, and maybe text a couple of people to let them know that I've written another book. Tea isn't just for survival. Tea isn't just for working. Tea is for celebration.

Tea is also a comfort for when life gets too hard, and a drink for watching quirky comedies, or for reading books. Tea is a drink for company, for family and friends.

I couldn't tell you how many cups of tea I have in a day. Once I get started, it usually gets quite difficult to stop. I'll finish one cup and begin making the next. In work, sometimes, I'll have tea left over from my break and it'll do me for while behind the counter. (This is really only when there are only two of us in, and I can't leave the register until the other person is back. Otherwise I wouldn't leave any tea in the cup - I wouldn't have a guarantee that I could finish it if I had to do something else.)

Basically, tea is a fundamental part of my daily life. I drink it when I wake up, when I'm writing, when I'm watching television or a movie, with my lunch, after dinner, when I'm reading, when I'm scheming, and often a cup or two before bed. I drink it all the time, and I'm not sure what I would do if I wasn't drinking it all the time. Tea is a necessity in my life.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Can't Sleep, Clown Will Eat Me!

Last night I had some trouble sleeping. I had an awful lot of my mind, including the sudden realisation that some friends who are leaving the country are doing so very soon. I kind of figured this sort of stuff would creep up on me, before pouncing suddenly.

When I woke up after a less than satisfactory sleep, I knew what I had to do: I made a list.

I wrote down each of the things that had been bothering me the night before, and beside each one I wrote down what, if anything, I could do about. I kept it simple, to a few words so it would be easy to follow, and once it became clear that for some things the solution was simple and for others there was nothing I could do to change what was going to happen, it all became a bit easier.

Part of the problem, I reckon, was that I thought about it all in one go without having time to process it properly. That's not an ideal situation for anyone to be in. Once one little bit of worry gets in, it's like a dam breaking. Suddenly every little niggling doubt about the future came down upon me.

Thankfully I know how to cope with all of this going on. The real trouble was in my head, and once I was able to get out of it - which meant not sleeping for a while - I was able to get some rest.

(As for the title of this post... it's a quote from The Simpsons, when a young Bart is terrified of the clown bed Homer made him. The same sort of fear and worry kept me awake last night, though my focus wasn't on my bed. After yesterday's story, that's probably hard to believe...)

Anyway, today, after coping with last night's worries, and after a shift in work, I did what every sane person who couldn't sleep well the night before does: I went to see a horror film. Specifically, The Conjuring. It's probably the creepiest film of the past few years, though Sinister still holds the title belt for scariest. There were less jumpy frights in The Conjuring and more spooky atmosphere building.

All in all, I'd recommend it.

I'm a big fan of horror films, though I don't get to watch as many as I'd like to. This is by and large down to the fact that when it's dark enough to make an atmosphere out of a horror film, I'm in my room writing a blog post at the last minute, but also because I don't have a huge collection of horror.

Anyway, it's getting late, I feel a hankering for a cup of tea, and I need to post this before midnight. Hopefully tonight I'll have less worries on my mind!

Friday, August 9, 2013

I Launched a Thing!

Today was the official launch of my new prose and poetry blog: ParagraVerse! It's a weird name, I know, but it's oddly difficult to find a name on Wordpress that isn't taken already. It's annoying when the ones you want are used up by dead blogs, but not to worry. At least I have one no one can complain about not getting, that's a little bit odd (like me) but still vaguely describes what the blog is about: paragraphs and verses, the stuff of prose and poetry.

I launched with a new FridayFlash story, entitled Bed. When I told my brother about it, he said I should write Goosebumps. I took it as a compliment. I was especially delighted to see (a) that someone tweeted about it and called it creepy, and (b) that people had subscribed to the site after just one story. I have a few others in mind, which I'll be writing over the next few days and posting every Friday for a while.

I'll also be including poetry into the mix, with video readings of them. I'll have videos for the flash stories, too, in the future, but I found myself oddly pushed for time today when I was launching, and ill-clothed for the recording. I'll add to the site early next week when I'm wearing a t-shirt that wasn't stuffed into a drawer.

Anyway, you can check out ParagraVerse here:

I need to plan a few poems to add to the site over the coming weeks. There'll be a mix of things, anyway. I might go through with an idea I've had for a themed set of poems, just to start, and have that little collection go up for a while. It's only four or five poems, but that's enough to get me started.

In the meantime, I can focus on getting lots of other material written to diversify the selection of prose and poetry available for reading. I'm incredibly excited about this new blog. I think it could be a lot of fun, and it lets me write across a range of different genres, rather than focusing entirely on the Modern Irish Myth stories. While I enjoy writing them, I would eventually run out of myths to use. At least this way I can work off a number of different ideas for short stories I've had, which makes releasing something new every week that little bit easier!

It feels good to have finally launched a new long-term site!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Getting Ready for Launch Day!

Tomorrow, I'm launching my new blog. I have a list of things I need to do before then, including writing the first story for it, but I have a feeling it'll be a fun one to keep up to date. I have a list of story ideas, and I'll be adding to that particular brand of story-ideas as time goes on.

If you remember a poll I did on my website a while back, you might know what sort of stories are in the works. If not, and you're not bothered looking, can wait to find out tomorrow.

Thankfully, most of the prep-work is very basic code and re-organising in Wordpress. It's the same sort of stuff I've done with blogs in the past, and with my website and the Modern Irish Myth site, so it won't take long to actually get it done. And once it's out of the way, I'll have a brand new site up and running.

Literally, it's a case of: adding a subscriber widget, setting up a navigation menu, writing an About page, and grabbing links to social media sites and the like. It's all simple jobs, and it'll have the site up and running and easy to use.

Once I get it started and have a few stories written to keep it going for a few weeks consistently, I can get to work on a couple of other major projects that have been calling for my attention for a while now. With the Big Break coming to an end, I figure it's about time I actually started following through on my plans.

Of course, I won't be giving up things like reading comic books, and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD, or re-discovering my joy of Pokémon Yellow. That would be ridiculous. But I'll be assigning more time in the day to do "work". (Which, to be honest, is just what I'll have to call it to get people to leave me alone while I do it!)

I have high hopes for the next few months. These are the ones that'll matter, I reckon. These are the ones that will define how I spend my days while not in full-time employment.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Summer Break is Almost Over

Every year for as long as I can remember, I've been in a cycle: in May/June, we were let off school, and in September (and sometimes August...eugh!) we were sent back in. For the months in between, we did whatever we wanted, within reason.

If I hadn't just finished up college, I would be repeating that cycle again this year. That said, summer break is still almost over, and it's time to really get back to work. I might not have assignments or lectures or someone looking at everything I do with a critical eye, but I do have some things that need doing.

See, I decided a long time ago that I wanted to write for a living. If I could find the letter to prove it to my mother, I've wanted this since I was eleven. At least, that's how long it's been in writing. We were asked to write a letter to ourselves ten years from now. I should have opened it last October but I'm not entirely sure where it is. I'm not even sure I could read it, what with the way my handwriting was back then. I still remember what it said, though: I'd wanted to be studying Journalism at DCU. It was the only college I knew the name of, and it was the only thing I could imagine doing.

Somewhere along the line, I came to fancy the idea of being a teacher. This idea was then encouraged unknowingly by many friends and family who, from the time I was sixteen to before I'd submitted by CAO application (for those who aren't aware - essentially a less-than-fun way to pick college courses!), told me I should be a nurse or a teacher, or a bestselling author. (Many were kind enough to say that to me before they'd even read anything I'd written.)

But the letter, written in October 2002 (which feels a life-time ago, now...) I wanted to be a Journalist. I wanted to write words that people would read and make enough money from that to live and be a Grown-Up.

I don't see why, despite having not studied Journalism at third level, and despite having studied to be a teacher, I should give up on that idea. After all, how many of us really live up to our childhood dreams?

With that in mind, something that I hadn't given much thought to over the years, I've made up a list of things I need to do. It's not just little things like write a blog post, though tomorrow's tasks are kind of step-by-step things towards setting up my new poetry and prose blog. After that, though, I have a lot of work that needs doing in different areas, all towards making my childhood dream come true: to write and get paid for it.

I think I'm used to the idea of getting back to work in September that this rush of motivation so late in the day doesn't feel strange to me. As it is, once I'm done writing this I'm planning on doing some work. I think it's about time, three years after setting up my website, to give it a bit of a re-design. I'm still keeping the same look, but I want to have it laid out differently. A lot's changed in three years, and I think it's about time to reflect those changes online.

Summer break was fun while it lasted.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Psychic Butterfly Attack!

Recently, I started playing Pokémon Yellow online. It turns out I've gotten really into it again, like I did when I was a kid. I get excited about my roster of Pokémon, and I jest my opponents when I bring out something that'll be more effective against their choice of creature.

For a while, I was on a "Let's bring out Butterfree!" craze, nearly shouting at the screen "Psychic Butterfly Attack!" whenever I used Confusion. I don't think any of my opponents were ready for that one, because who expects a butterfly to have psychic abilities.

More recently, I've gotten obsessed with raising the basic elemental Pokémon to be their best - Pikachu, Charmander, Bulbasaur and Squirtle. The thing about Pokémon Yellow is, you can get all four of them rather easily.

But while all that was going on, I found myself a Drowzee. It's a psychic ant-eater-faced humanoid that feeds on dreams. It comes equipped with Hypnosis, for to send its opponents asleep, and with Dream Eater - a technique I was given by a lazy man - I literally get to eat the dreams of my opponents' Pokémon away. It's since evolved, too, and is the strongest member of my current roster.

I also have a Gyarados, following the handy online advice to level up a Magikarp early on. How something goes from helpless, stupid fish to giant flying sea dragon I'll never understand. But I don't need to understand, when it can just bite everything to death.

Basically, I'm getting ridiculously excited about a game from the 90s, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. It was things like this that made childhood fun even when it was raining outside. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have ghosts to bust.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Is it Time to Police the Internet?

I heard the news today that another young girl died by suicide, choosing to take her own life as a result of bullying through I'm not going to repeat the whole story here. You can probably find it by searching Google for bullying or suicide stories related to the site.

My main issue is that rather recently, has been at the centre of three suicides, three victims of bullying and harassment, and hasn't appeared to do anything to prevent further incidences. Its anonymous messaging continues, with people told to "drink bleach" or "go get cancer", and it once more highlights the problem with social media and developments in communication technology: cyber bullying.

In the past, bullying took place (by and large) in the schoolyard, or in the street, or in the workplace. While all of that still happens, modern technology allows the bully to break into the victim's house and intrude upon their private space with messages of hatred. Victims of cyber bullying can't escape the barrage. It attacks them where they feel safest, and it removes any semblance of protection the home might offer.

Awareness campaigns haven't quite caught up with cyber bullying. Not only do most people not feel as if they can talk about the issues of cyber bullying - it's easier to pretend it's not happening than to explain how you might have "let it happen" - most parents don't know enought about online safety and how simply telling children to avoid strangers on the Internet isn't good enough anymore. If anything, that only makes the Internet worse; there are billions of strangers who wouldn't harm you if you spoke to them online through Twitter or Google+, but there are dozens of people you do know (potentially) who would take advantage of your online presence to make you miserable.

I'm not going to pretend I understand why people treat others like that. What I can address, however, are the suicidal ideations that arise as a result of bullying. As evidenced by the three recent suicides as a result of online bullying, it's not uncommon to feel as if your life doesn't have enough value to keep on living it. In the most recent case, however, the young girl in question pointed out that sometimes a suicide attempt can be exactly what most people mistakenly assume all suicidal thoughts to be: a cry for help.

When the whole world - or your whole world, at least - seems to be against you, and you don't know how to explain how it makes you feel, and you don't understand why people treat you the way they do, and hide behind a veil of anonymity, it can be difficult to speak up and ask for help. If I thought someone was going through this sort of situation, though, there are some things I wouldn't say to them:

1. Suicide is a permament solution to a temporary problem. That's not a comfort to hear right away. When someone has agreed to find help - both with the abuse and its consequences, then it's time to highlight this point. It's more helpful for someone to realise they have done right by not taking their own lives than for someone to feel like they're thinking of doing something wrong.

2. Suicide is wrong. Someone who has been made to feel as if their existence is wrong isn't going to be put off taking their life by this point.

3. Suicidal thoughts or actions (attempts or self harm) are weird. While they aren't normal, and while someone experiencing them might not feel as if they are normal, there is the chance that someone sees them as being part of them. Pointing out that something is weird isn't going to make someone thinking or doing it feel any better about how they view themselves.

4. Suicide is never an option. Not only does this feel like a command, it's not even true. Suicide, for many people in every walk of life and in every culture around the world, is an option. It might not be one that people approve of, but the option is there. If you don't want someone to follow through on this option, tell them that instead. It's much more important for someone to hear that they are cared for, than to hear that they aren't allowed to do something.

5. Think about what you'd do to your parents if you killed yourself. While it might feel like an appeal to someone's sense of compassion and love, when experiencing suicidal thoughtss, or on the receiving end of bullying, or suffering from depression, it can feel as if you aren't receiving any love yourself. Returning it, or feeling good about anyone, can be difficult. Trying to make someone think about the consequences of suicidal actions while they are still at risk isn't a solution; it can create feelings of guilt or of worthlessness, and can make someone pull in to themselves even more as a way to get rid of any ill feeling thinking about family might bring about.

So, what should you do?

1. Be a friend. In cases of bullying, being the friend who's always there should be your primary concern. Allowing a victim of bullying or someone feeling suicidal to talk about what's bothering them is the first step towards preventing more drastic actions. If you're concerned that someone might be suffering in this way, keep an eye on them; look for any sign that something is wrong when they receive a text or look at their computer. If you know someone is giving them trouble, try to talk to them about it. If they don't want to mention something because they think things will get worse if they do, suggest being the one to report that something is wrong. In cases of bullying in schools, it can be easy to spot the bully once it's evident what they're doing.

2. Try to make arrangements to spend time with your friend away from a computer. A trip to the cinema or the theatre can be a good distraction, as any mobile devices that might be used to receive texts or emails or to use social media (including and Facebook) will have to be turned off.

3. Direct your friend to support services, and help them tell their parents and teachers (or employers, friends, etc.). Having more people to talk to and more ways to deal with the problems are essential.

4. Encourage your friend to (a) delete their account and (b) block anyone giving them trouble on Facebook or Twitter. Report bullies on any and all sites on which they are active.

In the long run, the less people using the better. At the moment, it doesn't support users who are being victimised and bullied. It makes cyber bullying too easy, and it provides one more easy avenue into someone's life. Anonymity is a dangerous tool for a bully to possess. Be aware, however, that it is possible to track anonymous users if the police are involved. Cyber bullying, in Ireland at least, is now a criminal offence, boarding on harassment. It's possible to catch the people causing your friend or loved one trouble.

For those who might have seen this happen already: don't feel guilty if your friend was in some distress and you didn't notice. It can be difficult to tell when someone is being bullied when it doesn't involve physical violence, and it's almost impossible to tell how someone is feeling at any given time of the day. The most important thing you can do is be there in future, and learn as much as you can about bullying, mental health issues like depression, and suicide. While it's not an easy topic to address, knowlegde and awareness are the first steps in preventing further incidences.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

WHO Doctor?

Did you see the announcement? I'm sure you saw the announcement. You know, the Big Announcement. Peter Capaldi is the new Doctor in Doctor Who!

Capaldi has already appeared in the show, in The Fires of Pompeii. Interestingly, his character didn't die. He met the Doctor and Donna, and lived a successful life in the months following the destruction of Pompeii. His family treated the heroic duo in the TARDIS as gods.

There has been some criticism of the decision, because he's older, and he's well known, and he's not black or a woman, and he's appeared in both Doctor Who and Torchwood already. But what I want to focus on, for just a moment, is his casting in World War Z, notably that he's listed as W.H.O. Doctor.

You can't write that.

Now, only the really important stuff. Is he a good choice for Doctor? Some might argue right away that he is; River's Doctor was "older". If the good Professor Song is still alive - it's hard to keep up, but I believe she must be - then I imagine she'll be quite happy to meet the twelfth Doctor. It's just... well... isn't her first time meeting him the last time he'll meet her? And vice-versa? We know she dies in the Library. We don't know how she met him. (Feel free to correct me on that, but that's how I remember those details, and it's been a while since I might have heard them.)

They also have to get married still, which is kind of a big deal, and this might be why Capaldi has been chosen as the Doctor. He's old enough to not look out-of-place to viewers - or to audiences who don't watch the show and might suddenly see their picture everywhere, because I have no doubt it'll be the TV wedding of the year. Whichever year that might be.

But appearances aside, they need a new Doctor who isn't necessarily going to be Clara's type, and who can at least get along with her as a friend with a new personality and a new way of thinking, and travel with despite her knowing his entire life-story up to the point of his regeneration.

There's a lot to happen during Capaldi's time as the Doctor, and I think they need a new face to bring it all about neatly. But the actor has to be in command of the role. He has to be strong, he has been out-there. He doesn't necessarily have to put on such a physical show as Matt Smith did, but he has to hold the audience's attention just as much.

He won't appear in the 50th anniversary. We know that much. I think it'd be a bit much to have Ten-Two, Eleven and whatever the heck we call John Hurt's Doctor (8.5? Nine-with-an-Extra-Twist-of-Insanity?) all in the episode as well as the regeneration.

So, Christmas. And we don't necessarily know that Clara is going to be in it. We don't know anything about it. All the attention is on November 23rd (50th anniversary episode), with very little of it on the actual episode that will see Matt Smith leave the show.

Capaldi has Christmas; he has a wedding, maybe. If he does, he'll probably meet River for her first time. That could be awkward. All of this might reveal the name of the Doctor, for the first time, or they might keep it a secret. But if what I think is true for River and the Doctor, and Capaldi is the man who meets her first, she'll be leaving the show during his time as the Doctor. And won't that suck?

As for whether or not I'm happy with the casting...well, you'll have to wait and see how I react to him actually playing the role. In season 8. About three episodes in. Because I don't want to judge him based on his first appearance before I can even get used to him!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Worker, Chef, Writer, Trainer

If today had a theme, it would be Time. My ability to keep track of it was tested, both in work and at home, and while I failed miserably in the shop, I managed to not kill everyone at home.

See, as part of the changes happening in the shop, we have to return a lot of old stock. I was left to the kids' section today, with a twenty page list and a pile of empty boxes. My four-hour shift usually drags by, and while I did check the time on a couple of occasions, I failed to truly keep track of things. Five minutes after my shift had ended, I was still plucking books from the shelves.


Thankfully, I had access to a clock later in the day when, by circumstance, I was left to put the dinner in the oven. Lots of different types of chicken (you know, thighs, wings, drumsticks), any of which could have killed us if not cooked properly.

But I'm a good boy. I put the food in the oven at the right time, and everything turned out nicely.

Today also marked the beginning of two things: the work on my poetry and prose blog, and a nostalgic game-playing experience.

I began the blog-work by putting together the banner and getting the blog a name. I've opted to use Wordpress. While Blogger is good, I find it's a lot more difficult for other people using it to find posts. Wordpress at least lets people use tags that actually work within to find posts with that tag. (Yes, I know, Blogger tags are for Google's benefit...)

I have a list of things I need to do to finalise the work before the launch (I'm hoping Friday, with a flash story), and I'm going to draw up a list of different projects to keep me going on the site. Fun, right?

As for the nostalgia... well, someone mentioned Pokémon on Facebook earlier, and now I'm playing Pokémon Yellow online. It was the second - and last - Pokémon game I owned. I could have picked a more modern one - even just more recent than Yellow - but I couldn't resist the idea of having my own little Pikachu following my character around on screen.

It brings back fun memories of playing the game as a child. I still have the Gameboy I played it on, though I couldn't tell you where the games have all disappeared to. It's a pity, really. We probably gave them to a cousin, or something.

Still, I have my Pokémon game to play, now, I have a new blog to work on, I have a lot of work to do in the shop, and I didn't give the family food poisoning on account of my ability to look at a clock. I call that a good day.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Violent Artsy

I went to see Only God Forgives tonight. I have a problem with it; I don't know whether it was a violent film that attempted to be artsy, or an artsy film that happened to be violent. I'm leaning towards the latter.

If you want to see a film with an easy-to-follow sequence of scenes, this isn't the film for you. If, however, you just want to look at Ryan Gosling's face for a while, then by all means head to your local cinema. Just be warned: pretty boy Gosling doesn't stay pretty. He also doesn't say very much, which certainly detracts from the idea of him as an actor. We put it much more simply: he was hired to be a model in the film, hired for his face, and that's what they spent a lot of time showing on-screen.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing the guy, and I'm not dissing the film, but there wasn't an awful lot of expression on his face - or anyone else's unless they were being stabbed or cut to pieces - and the sequence of scenes made it difficult to tell what happened, and what didn't happen. While we're willing to accept the stabbings and the shootings, we struggle with the karaoke (a word I'm unsure of the spelling of, and cannot at the moment do a spell check - deal with my guess!). I think the fact that one of the songs sung came without any sound from the guy's mouth. He was miming a song in a foreign language, and we didn't even get the subtitles.

All that said, it was an enjoyable film. If you're into that sort of thing.

For me, it brought back memories of English class. We had a particular name for film's like Only God Forgives; we called them Michael Films, so called because the lecturer, Michael, seemed to make it his goal to show us the most bizarre and/or mentally scarring films he could possibly fit into vague genre definitions. I'm still caught up over which film was more damaging to my psyche: Oldboy, Blue Velvet, or Spanking the Monkey.

This particular brand of film, however weird, almost always manages to do something: it gets me thinking.

Tonight, I ended up thinking about a book I plan on writing, and how other books I'm planning on writing seem to all fit into one vaguely described universe. It's interesting how that happened, and while I'm not sure I know which elements of stories will actually fall together neatly, I know I've got some new ideas for the utilization.

That's the fun thing about cinema night. I don't always pick the film - actually, I rarely do - and so I'm exposed to a lot of different types of cinema. Comedies, horrors, actions, violent-artsies and artsy-violents, thrown into a mixture along with films for children, superhero films and the occasional fantasy. Cinema night, and film classes, are central to my life. In the space of a couple of hours, I can see the world through the eyes of another, however disturbed and crazy a world that might be. Stories are told, lives are lived, people are cut open by sharp swords, and it makes my brain whir with excitement at the potential for stories in the future.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I Made a Task List

After a very relaxing day watching Season 5 of Buffy, and realising how obsessed I'm getting with it, I decided to write up a small task list. Four things on it, including this blog post.

I figured it was about time I did some work, even if the work is about the same sort of stuff I normally do. The first item on the list was to deliver on a Fiverr gig. There's a timer on it, and it's made me a tiny bit of money, so I figured it needed a priority spot. It was also one I knew I could do in less than an hour, which is a plus.

After that, I had to type some poems. I'm submitting a bunch to a magazine/journal tomorrow, but a few of those hadn't been typed up. It's a necessary, albeit boring, aspect of submitting that could - in theory - be eliminated if I typed all my poems in their writing, instead of hand-writing them. Oddly, though, I feel much more comfortable writing poetry by hand. The words come out easier.

The opposite is true when I'm writing fiction. I think that's because I like to know how much I've written in terms of a word count. With poems, I can judge the length just by looking at it on the page. That doesn't always stop me writing a long poem, but it does make it easier to figure out how long of a poem I'm writing, and I can make a judgement call on it then.

Anyway, I'm currently on number three on the list. After I write this post, I have to address a task sheet I was working on months ago but never got back to because of exams. I'm thinking it'll be an ebook, and released soon if it is, so that'll be fun. I love these little projects once they get going.

The productivity is fun, though. I like being able to work like this, and feeling like I'm actually accomplishing something. (I even wrote little things beside the already completed tasks as motivational and celebratory cheering.) It's the sort of feeling I've needed for a while, now.

That said, I did enjoy relaxing a lot. I think I'll keep that up in the future. I need to balance work, R&R and socialising (even with my family), and I'm on the way to making that work. I still need to work out the kinks, but I'm getting to the point of being "normal" without giving up anything I'm passionate about. (So, instead of spending all my time watching Buffy and reading comic books, I'm also spending time talking to my family and doing work. Yay me and my weird-but-normal life!)

Anyway, coming up to 11pm, and I need to write a Thing for the task sheet. Hurray for a couple of productive hours!