Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Anyone who was unlucky enough to make contact with me over the last few days either by phone or email, has already had to listen to all my woes about life and novel writing  through the current big freeze!!! 

My Life
Due to a series of errors we ended up running out of heating oil on Saturday morning once the BIG FREEZE had taken hold.  Coincidentally as it happens the power also went on Saturday, meaning that along with no heat (other than the good old fashioned fire), we had no electricity, and of course no phone.  Then later that day the water went, and yes I know it is my own fault for choosing to live up in the mountains!!!  Anyhow by Saturday evening the power was back on, so Xfactor could be watched on tv, then on Sunday morning, the water too decided to be kind, which meant we could at least have showers even if the bathroom was in Siberia. 

Just to extend the suffering, the oil company didn't deliver the 'failed oil delivery' from Friday on Monday either, as the 'Man' went home without making 3 deliveries.  Now I know the real reason why the 'Man' went home was that he just did not want to drive up the hill in the snow!  Even though the roads were fine.

After more snow last night, any chance of an oil delivery in the foreseeable future was well and truly put to bed, which means that we are going to be without heating in one of the coldest spells ever recorded for November, and yes you have guessed it, in one of the coldest part of the country, the east, which is especially cold on high ground!!!

The Novel
The Novel has been a bit like the oil story in its rather trying failure at delivery.  Don't get me wrong, I worked hard last week, and despite being told by many to ignore the revised plot line and just keep moving forward, I did the very opposite.  It was really tough spending hours on chapter after chapter with words falling off the page instead of on to it.  We also had a family birthday which meant I was forced to do some food shopping, (just as well with the snow making us housebound), cooking and baking, safe in the knowledge that after the weekend, Monday would soon be here and my word mountain would rise again.  This did not happen!  Firstly I had lost nearly 1,000 words with plot revision over the previous days, then I had a miscalculation, reducing the word count by another 300 words.  When I finally did write on Monday, I spent 3 hours fixing an opening paragraph that I still hate, so I was devastated.

I moaned to anyone that wanted to listen and even those that didn't want to listen, because basically all I wanted to do was moan.  I was giving up, I had enough.  Sane people told me to walk away, to get a real life, with real people and real things, something nothing to do with murder, or madness, or whatever else is on the pages of my 'would be novel'

But did I take the advice?  Of course not!  So I went back to fixing the blasted thing and finally I got to a place this evening that I had completely forgotten about, being so long since I had last been there. 'A NEW CHAPTER' finally got started, and the words came out.  Some good, some bad, but all of them NEW!!!

Anyhow after about 6 days of whatever it was that I had been through, I managed to add in an extra couple of hundred words, which is pretty amazing seeing as how I lost 1,300 on rewrites and miscalculations.

So like the power and water going and eventually coming back, so too did the words, however temporary it might be.  Maybe the novel, like the oil will arrive sometime in the foreseeable future.  And just maybe, I might get to live a normal life again!!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thought for the Weekend - Joan Rivers

Well more of a laugh than a thought.

She might not be everyones cup of tea, but she makes me smile. 

Quote from the very funny Joan Rivers!

'I hate housework. You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again.'

Have a great Weekend!
Donoghue Scoops Top Award

'Room', the bestselling novel by Emma Donoghue which just missed out on the Man Booker Prize last month, has taken the Novel of the Year prize at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards 2010.

Emma Donoghue's winning novel was inspired by the case of Josef Fritzl who locked his daughter in the basement for 24 years. and has been in the bestseller lists for the past three months.

It tells the story of a boy and his mother who are held in a one-room garden shed.
The five-year-old boy thinks the locked room he lives in is the whole world because his mother has never told him about the outside. At night the boy hides in the wardrobe when Old Nick brings food and then makes the bed creak with his mother.

Despite the dark subject matter, the book is ultimately uplifting and the boy and his mother eventually escape.

"I was driving along when 'Room' came to me in a flash," Donoghue says. "I realised that if such a story were told from the child's point of view, it would not be a horror or sob story, but a journey from one world to another.

Originally from Dublin, but now living in Canada, Donoghue is best known for her historical novels.

Read our own book club review of 'Room'
under this month's  Popular Posts.

 You will see we are a tough bunch!!

Full Short List 2010

Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann, Bloomsbury
Brooklyn, Colm Toibin, Viking
Skippy Dies, Paul Murray, Hamish Hamilton
Ghost Light, Joseph O’Connor, Harvill Secker
The Dead Republic, Roddy Doyle, Cape
Room, Emma Donoghue, Pan Macmillan

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Poetry Bus Poem - Across The Valley

Very interesting prompts for the bus this week from Danabug. I finally settled on the 2nd one because I consider myself lucky to live in a place that I love. 

'Write about the place you dream of living some day. Or if you're lucky enough to already live there write about home.'

 (photo of the hills and valley behind our home)

Across The Valley

Home for me is when I see the birds swoop across the valley,
Home for me is the change of seasons, surprise sunsets,
Home for me is time with family,
curled-up love that keeps us real,

The kind that feels tight deep to the core,
The kind that makes me brave, less afraid,
The kind that bring tears when pained,
that makes me whole for,

We are  there when we cherish those we love,
We are there when we support a friend in need,
We are  there when the world around us seems to fall,
when we stand tall,

And care,
And breath,
And help,
And share,

The many facets of ourselves,
The many troubles of those that touch our hearts,
The many tiny things that make us who we are,
The many birds that swoop across the valley.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Novel - Looking for Superpower

Okay for all those 2 people out there wanting an update on the novel front, here it is!!

Having walked away from my family at the kitchen table with the colander on my head the other evening, I set about the task in hand, or rather part of the task.

The filtering system of the colander did help greatly, and the holes ensured only limited erosion of what was left of my shrunken brain occurred.  I managed, (for their own safety you understand) to ignore my family for the entire weekend and got my 1,500 words done, made some alterations to the plot, got through another editing process on some early chapters, and despite not achieving all my goals, by Sunday night, I felt like a fighter, someone who did not quit!

Then I made the fatal mistake of taking the colander off my head before I went to sleep last night, and all the demons of self doubt came flooding back, because when I awoke this morning, the warrior/fighter part of me was no more.  I was like a wounded animal, a lost cause, when I looked at the novel, most of the good bits had disappeared and the bad bits were eating away whatever few good bits were left.  It took me a while before I understood the problem.

Thankfully the colander was not too far away, having only been discarded to the kitchen sink.  Once it was on my head again, I immediately looked up to the skies and knew my answer would be out there somewhere.  It was then that I contacted a superpower, their identity shall remain a secret for now.  But like all superpowers they gave me their words of wisdom in superpower time.  So thanks to them, and of course the colander, which was already setting me on a new positive path of discovery, I made the decision that the novel will continue anew tomorrow, that the house will remain untidy and without food, Christmas will get there whatever way it can, I will continue to ignore my family for just another little while, and pretty much everything else in my life and WRITE THE BLOODY STORY!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thought for the Weekend - Shirley MacLaine

"Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power."

- Shirley MacLaine

I plan to hold this thought in my head for the entire weekend!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Poetry Bus Poem - Existence

This week's wonderful poetry prompt by 'Enchanted Oak', asked us to think about our existence on earth, good, bad, or indifferent. Plenty to think about there!

For what it's worth, here's my contribution this week.


Some people with more knowledge in these things,
have told me lots of reasons for living a good and healthy life.
I have heard all the usual soundbites,
even some strange ones like,

How the rings around my pupils,
(eye pupils that is) mean I am a woman with strong inclination.
That I am psychic,
and see lots of things,

Having 'fire in my soul',
keeping hubby well hooked,
and for the most part,
pretty nuts about me.

And not wanting to blow my own trumpet,
lots think, I am some woman, for one woman you see,
although others including yours truly,
have questioned the childhood in me.

Figuring something warp must have happened within it,
for what other reason could there be,
for wanting to be pretty great at blinkin' everything,
and failing, despite bloody-minded me!

For the most part, only those that really know me,
have ever seen, my strange other side,
the one lined in self-doubt and confusion,
and vulnerability roaring high through the ride.

Like most of us, I have my deep moments,
when it's just me and not anyone else,
when I wonder the reason for one's existence,
and stop being so caught up in other parts of self.

On philosophical days, I think it is all about just leaving,
more good than bad along your way,
or having one hell of a fantastic memory,
sure isn't life for the living, they say.

I scold myself for not having done more to help others,
for wasting too many hours in bed,
or thinking too much,
about things that don't really matter,

Like whether it rains or life will get any better,
or who'll gets kicked out of 'Xfactor' next week,
or what colour my hair might turn out to be next time,
or my son's penalty points on the jeep.

I guess of late I've just come to discover,
that little old me doesn't know what answer to call.
So like most, I'll just keep on trucking,
sure confusion isn't too bad after all.

Novel Madness

I know I'm going kinda crazy, when I find myself having family conversations about murder, fictional murder I hasten to add, of the novel variety!  'Novel' mind you, is no longer a word that I have a liken to, as my 'Novel' feels anything but novel to me!

With just about 1,500 words to go this week from my current target @ Week 7 of 70,000 words, and the rest of my life falling in around me, so too sadly, is the world of my novel. 

There seems to be as many unanswered questions as there are unwritten words. I have discovered that I have a problem with the plot, well actually more than one.  But before I give up all hope and accept entry into the world of absolute craziness, and I still hold on to some faint possibility that both the novel and I can be saved, I revert to the people that are always there for me, and no, I am not talking about friends (who are wonderful), I am talking about family, the people who have no choice but to stick with you even if you are completely nuts.

Now I figured in the earlier days, around the 20,000 word mark, that problems with the plot were things that I could work out as I went along, being someone with imagination and all.  To be fair, I did sort out a couple of things, and managed to throw in a few safely nets, with some subtle innuendos, that could prove to be something or nothing at all.

However, after nights spent without sleep solving nothing, and days/nights when I finally got to the keyboard and managed to write, after having some very long conversations with the dog (Benson is his name), and enjoying his many sympathetic looks, I finally had to revert to 'The Family'.

Not wanting to let me down, they came up with many suggestions the other night, one wasn't bad and kinda sorted half of a problem even though it meant a good many changes.  All members of said family wanted a dedication at the start of the book to them, especially my son, who was convinced of his genius by the end of night one!  So enthused by the wonder of my own family, I went at the 'Q & A' session again last night.

The ideas that came from the dinner table, with a feast I might add of spaghetti bolognese (using the last bit of pasta in the cupboard as I can't remember when I did a proper shop and I don't have time to cook anything these days that can't be done in a hurry), were so wild, wonderful and nuts, that I wondered why I had never tapped into this resource before (like before I started to write the blasted thing).

After a while though, they started to get ideas beyond their station in life. My daughter telling me about how JK plotted all the Harry Potter books before she attempted to write even the first novel, and that maybe I should consider learning from this exercise.  Sensing that the troops were getting a little bit uppity for my liking, having probably put in somewhere in the region of about 200 hours of hard work to date myself, and they on the other hand having only thought about my novel for about 20 minutes in between mouthfuls, I decided that unless I wanted a murder of the very real variety on my hands, I should take the colander that was used for the spaghetti, put it on my head and leave the table immediately.

So I finally sat at my keyboard and put some changes to part of yesterday's words, still with many unanswered questions and the prospect of a series of changes in an effort to solve at least some of the plot deficiencies, a 1,500 word target for the following day, a reread of 70,000 words with rewrites over the weekend, an ambition to work out how the next 25,000 words should unfold over the next 3 weeks, along with a prologue, a full reediting, and a pitch for the novel, so that I might actually feel mid December, that I have had a relatively worthwhile reason for having deserted my said family, paid more attention to the sympathetic dog than anyone else, ignored Christmas, food shopping, house cleaning and anything else for that mind, that might have normally been part of my existence, including walking, cooking, reading, etc etc, and that I can at the end of it, hold my head up with pride, without the colander still on it, and say," it was all worth it!"

(The above rant is a necessary component of any prospective return to NOVEL writing in the foreseeable future!) 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Carlo Gebler at the Centre

 The Peregrine Readings  


A great night ahead this week at the Writers Centre Dublin 
 (Sponsored by the Arts Council under the Touring and Dissemination Scheme)
THURSDAY @7.30PM  (cost €5) Carlo Gébler, Lia Mills, June Considine

Carlo Gébler has written travel books, memoir, narrative history, as well as several plays for both radio and the stage, including 10 Rounds, which was short listed for the Ewart-Biggs Prize (2002).  In 2009 the Lagan press published his novel, A Good Day for a Dog and Fourth Estate the memoir, My Father’s Watch, co-written with Patrick Maguire, youngest of the Maguire Seven. 

Lia Mills is the author of two novels Another Alice and Nothing Simple and a memoir, In Your Face, which tells the story of a diagnosis of oral cancer and its treatment. She also writes short stories and literary non-fiction. An experienced facilitator of creative writing workshops, she has worked on several public art commission

June Considine is the author of sixteen novels for adults and children. Her most recent novel Stolen Child, published internationally by Avon/Harper Collins in July 2010, was written under her pen name Laura Elliot. Her short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and featured on RTE’s Fiction 15 series.

All enquires to Irish Writers Centre, 19 Parnell Square N, Dublin 1.
 ( 01) 8721302 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Poetry Bus Poem - The One


Lately I’ve started to wonder,
what if life isn’t that complicated after all.
What if decisions just caused interesting scenery,
and the road itself was nothing at all?

Yes I know, if we were lucky we managed,
to pick up lots of love and wonder on our way,
and for all of that I'm eternally grateful,
but the road just a road all the same.

Actually when did the pathway become more than the person?
If it has, maybe we’ve lost more than ourselves on its path.
There’s no doubt that my road brought its pain and its passion,
but is it not just a road after that?

When I was little, I had big dreams filled with silly notions,
of all sorts of things that could never quite be.
When I was young and didn’t know any better,
and life’s lessons were all about being free.

I’ve thought long and hard about most of life’s key decisions,
although I’ve learned less than I might well have done.
Though I’ve noticed one thing very distinctive about them,
that ultimately, I am the one.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thought for the Weekend - Jack Kerouac

This appeals to me for lots of reasons, not least of which is because so called
 'normal people' can scare me like hell!

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."

- Jack Kerouac

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Club

Armadale by Wilkie Collins

Book Club Review - 2nd December 2010

'Armadale' will be reviewed on the 2nd December, so get busy reading!!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Short Story Submissions

Shortlist Press are currently looking for story submissions.  All the details are available on their website @ http://www.shortlistpress.com/

They are looking for:

Word counts from 2,500 words to 15,000 but every one of those words must count - no flab.

Great literary/upmarket fiction which is plot-driven, has an original voice and is fresh and vibrant

All submissions should be sent by email to submissions@shortlistpress.com and attached
as a Word document.

Please check the guidelines before submitting and tell a bit about yourself and your writing background in your covering email.

They encourage submissions from writers across the globe but they only accept stories in English.

Shortlist Press is run by editor Clare Hey. Read more about Clare


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Poetry Bus Poem - The Strand

Great theme again this week - bathing, the sea - thanks Jessica.

The strange and wonderful thing about the poetry bus is that like all the best rides, you never know where you're going until you get there!  

The Strand

I am three years old,
at Sandymount Strand.
The tide’s coming in.
New smells,
in an unknown place.
The breeze batters my ears and face,
filling my hair with knots and sand.

Against the sea and sky he stands,
trouser legs rolled up.
White chalk skin, unforeseen.
There are others too,
with hidden faces.
He turns to the sea,
his back to me.

I am three years old,
The wind cuts out all other sounds.
He walks away,
blue waters eat his feet.
Her hands grip mine,
‘No,’  I scream.

The strand is huge,
swallowing my sobs.
‘Shush,’ she says holding tighter still,
as my father turns,
coming back from the sea,
into my memory.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Launch of South of The County - New Myths & Tales

South of The County (Fiery Arrow Press) - New Myths & Tales
will be launched at RED RUA Arts Centre, Civic Square, Tallaght, Dublin 24,
on Wednesday the 17th November @ 7pm.

South of The County - New Myths & Tales is edited by writer and poet Eileen Casey.
It is an anthology of stories set in South Dublin, each one representing something new whilst managing to encapsulate the magic often found in older stories.

  The book's cover features work from the renowned artist Jim Fitzpatrick and is definitely something special to have on your bookshelf.

Within the pages you will find short stories written by over 30 of the finest writers in the County today, including a piece from the fantastic Geraldine Mills. 

Alongside Geraldine, there are some prize tales from a lot of bloggers known to you, Various, Domestic Oubliette, Uiscebots, 120Socks & Dublin Dave.

Light refreshments will be served, so come along for a great evening.  The book will be launched by Mayor Cllr Eamonn Maloney.

If you need directions etc just call Ruth @ (01) 4528180

Thursday, November 4, 2010

George Bernard Shaw - Thought for the Weekend

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."

George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Inkwell Opening Chapters Competition

Inkwell has some exciting new projects planned for the coming months - the first is the Inkwell Opening Chapters Competition. All the entry details are in the Writers Resources section of the Inkwell Cafe, here.
The Opening Chapters Competition is designed quite simply to get your ms read by the right people.
Patricia Deevy (left below), senior editor at Penguin Ireland and Irish literary agent Ger Nichols of The Book Bureau are judging the competition. Writer Caren Kennedy whose book Fake Alibis (right below) has been optioned by Warners for a US TV serial will be assisting in compiling the longlist.
Enter the opening chapters (first 3000 words) of your novel (any genre - and it does not have to be finished, see the competition page for details). First prize is Euro100 and a Meet the Inkwell Writers page in the Inkwell Cafe worth Euro 60, second prize Euro 75 and a Meet the Inkwell Writers page in the Inkwell Cafe. Crucially this competiton is all about the right people seeing your work. Entry fee €10

Closing date is November 20th so get your skates on, see the competition link above.

Further Instructions:

When you go on the competition page, you will be given a link to pay, you will then be taken to the page with the competition email entry address on it, and you just need to follow the instructions - there is no entry form needed, just a covering page with word count required and an indication if it is a WIP(work in progress), or complete etc.

If you want to pay by cheque you can email Vanessa O Loughlin at Inkwell (see email address below) to let her know and she can tie the email entry together with the cheque for €10 or alternatively you can post the hard copy with payment to her at The Old Post Office, Kilmacanogue, Co. Wicklow.

Armadale by Wilkie Collins - November Book Club Choice

A Penguin Classic, Armadale was the novel nominated at the book club last night for reading in November.

It centres around two distant cousins, both named Allan Armadale whose lives are tied together by the terrible secret which the elder Alan Armadale confesses on his death bed. Both Armadales meet again at the ages of 21 and 22 respectively and become friends (one of them under an assumed name). The curiosity of their shared names, the secret and a premonition leads them on a path that leads the reader to question whether they are simply hapless victims of fate. The books femme-fatale, Lydia Gwilt appears on the scene halfway through the book intent upon becoming the heiress to one of the Alan’s fortunes and turns everyone’s lives upside-down.

Armadale is an exciting, complex Victorian novel that examines the role of women, marriage and the individual.

Armadale was first serialized in The Cornhill magazine in 1864.
Feel free to either post or email feedback over the next few weeks.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Francis Mac Manus Competition

(Free Entry)

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the RTÉ Radio 1 Francis MacManus Short Story Competition, which over the years has proved to be the launching pad for many renowned Irish writers.

The competition, which was founded to commemorate the writer and broadcaster, Francis Mac Manus, has been a source of encouragement and inspiration to thousands of emerging writers over the years and continues to offer a platform for the best of new Irish writing.

The author of the overall winning story will receive €3,000 with prizes of €2,000 and €1,000 awarded to the second and third prize winners.

Entries should be written for radio and should be within the range of 1,800 to 2,000 words.

RTÉ Radio 1 will broadcast each of the winning stories and all of the shortlisted entries.

The closing date for entries is Friday 31st December 2010 and the results will be announced in May 2011.

Click on link below for entry form etc

Room by Emma Donoghue - Book Club Reviews

November Book Club Choice

ARMADALE - Wilkie Collins
(Review Date 2nd December)

"I was moved, fascinated and gripped by the novel Room. While I normally don't respond to novels written in the voice of a child, in this instance hearing the story of an abducted mother and child from the child's point of view made the story all the more powerful. It's a book that will stay with me for a long time."

"Room - I think its a clever conceptual novel that also has emotional impact."

"My tuppence worth would be that it's a well written and nicely structured book, but not one I'll be putting on the favourite book shelf.  It's a good read, if you're stuck, but not a must read."

"I enjoyed the book a lot, I found it to be very readable. However, I thought that the narrator was too mature sometimes for a five-year-old. Also I thought it was just a little gimmicky to tell the story from that point of view. It was very similar to 'The Curious Incident...' and, overall, neither were very good stories if told straightforward."

"Room is the type of book that you could definitely read in one session as it captivates the reader.  The dialogue, character conception and sense of place were all strong and the novel was hugely emotive at times.  It was an interesting and unusual tale both in the selection of 'Room' as the primary setting for the novel and at the means by which an extremely difficult subject matter was approached."

"I thought Room was a great read and very moving.  The author was excellent at creating atmosphere and tension. I thought the mother’s depression was very well dealt with when she was 'Gone' I particularly liked Jacks grandmother. Her struggles to cope with the intensity of her daughter’s abduction and return were very believable. I read the book in three sittings and was a bit disappointed when it was Gone!"

"Room is an unusual combination of literary prose that is very accessible, thereby warranting it with both commercial and literary appeal."

"Room is an interesting novel but not necessarily an engaging one for the duration.  It moved me in parts and informed me but then there was the whiff of contrivance that detracted.  On more than one occasion the main character, a five year old boy named Jack, ceases to be himself and becomes the mouth piece of the author.  There is no doubting that it is a work of high standing.  It is ground breaking in that it deals with a subject matter that has not yet been dealt with in fiction, and for that reason alone, and there are others, it is worth reading.  But “Room” failed to climb that final mile into the books we rave about and somehow,  I wish it had made it to the very tip" 

All reviews sent in for 'Room' will be featured on this page.
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