Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Saving of Sobul - Chapter 1 - Part 3

As Colias watched the deer move through the hazel forest, she seemed to travel with the instinct of centuries, and he sensed that this beautiful creature was somehow connected to his destiny.  It was only when Colias saw the Crystal Kingdom shining from the earth’s core, that he knew the imaginings of his dreams in Sobul were about to be realised.

The deer passed through the crystal wall of the kingdom, and was swiftly transformed into a goddess with wild red waist-long hair and white cotton skin draped by liquid gold.  Around her forehead remained the snowdrops, only dimmed now by her eyes of black lagoons.  Once inside the Crystal Kingdom, the earthly world was no longer part of her, and those outside, unable to enter, could only look on.  As Indra attempted to forge through the crystal wall, his failure to pass made him impatient, and with that, his butterfly wings began to fade. Colias was more resolute, the imaginings of his dreams was now happening, and the unfolding of events would be just a question of time.

* *
Makaylah's wild waist long hair moved as if floating on water when she turned to see Edana enter the crystals.  Edana, the goddess of fire, once through the crystal wall, transformed from a wild cat.  Her hair, black like the raven, was surrounded by a garland of large red roses around her forehead.  Her skin darker than Makaylah’s, wrapped in a dress of blood red, revealed womanly curves that held the power of all men’s passions. An ice fox was the next to arrive, and just like Makaylah, she turned into a creature so beautiful, that she had no need for any crown.  The iced-white of her fox coat, became silky straight hair of purple, her lips the same colour.  Kindall may not have had the purity of Makaylah, or the full bodied passion of Edana, but she was indeed a clever independent fox.
     ‘Ah, Kindall, you are just in time, Makaylah here thinks she might have seen him.’
     ‘Seen who?’
     ‘The warning of our forefathers, the creature she must never kiss.’  Edana let out an infectious laugh just as Peigi arrived.
     ‘Makaylah has seen him?’ the white dove becoming the last of the sisters to transform. 
     Makaylah looked at Peigi, the youngest of them all with the colour of the oceans in her eyes.  Peigi wings turned into a headdress of three circles in white weave, the centre piece laced in crystals, just like her dress.  
     ‘Heavens Makaylah, is this true?  You have finally met him?’ Peigi swooned.
     ‘Do you not get it Peigi, romance, not that I normally resist the absolute divine delight of it, is completely out of the question here.’
     ‘Edana, maybe the warning is wrong, this creature might be her true love.’
     But Peigi conceded defeat when Kindall spoke.
     ‘She cannot afford to take that chance?’
     Makaylah looked at her three sisters and remembered Colias as he stood in the meadow.  Each of them could see the vision in her eyes, and feel her deepest emotions, knowing that he was within her being, like the centre stones of the earth's core.
     It was Kindall that spoke next.
     ‘Makaylah you know if you kiss him, you will go to the Valley of Darkness?’
     ‘I know.  Everything from my creation to now confirms what you say, but even though I understand this, there is something drawing me to him.’
     ‘That’s the very reason why you should not be tempted.  You hardly think the gods would have sent a being of no attraction.’ Kindall looked to Edana to confirm.
     ‘Absolutely darling, the more passionate and tempting they seem, the more one should be wary.  Unless of course you like to live dangerously like me?’
     ‘I think Makaylah should go to the Forest of Answers,’ said Peigi.
     ‘Will you take me there sweet Peigi?’
     ‘Of course I will, but we must rest now, tomorrow before daylight we will go.  In your sleep, the gods might give you answers.’
Before the sun rose outside the Crystal Kingdom, Makaylah's sad eyes told Peigi nothing had changed.  Peigi transforming herself into her earthly dove-like form and waited while Makaylah reduced to the size of the most minuscule of fairies.  Climbing on her back, they both flew to the Forest of Answers,  unaware that in their wake, followed the daring Colias.

The conclusion of this chapter will be posted on Saturday 2nd April 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Special Star Badge by Alias Jinksy

My special thanks to fellow blogger and multi-talented ALIAS JINKSY for sending me the amazing 120 Socks Star Badge!

Isn't it absolutely FAB!

Novel - Targets & Edits

One more day to month end, when the final editing of Chapters 1 - 3 should be completed.  So far, I have done the small edits, keeping the level of 'hads', 'he', 'she' and whatever other small words seem to eat into sentences, at an optimum level.  I have also clarified shifts in times, emphasised turning points, sharpened paragraphs, turned elusive references, to logical analysis and so forth and so on.

The only thing left to do, is turn the beginning of chapter 1 upside down, to an opening pitch, that excites all those mere mortals lucky or unlucky enough to read it (which hopefully will be millions!).

Tomorrow is the last day of my self imposed target, so fingers crossed I achieve my aim on Chapter 1, and it won't be too long before Chapters 1-3, take wings and fly off to a welcoming publisher/agent/or anyone who will help along the way!!! 


I am very pleased to announce that the 120 socks

 goes to the fabulous...... 

Afric Mc Glinchy

Keep  a watch out for Afric's blog which hopefully will be appearing in my Blog Roll List over the coming days!!!! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who would like a Star?

Okay, this might well be one of my more crazy posts, but we are all allowed a few!!  Anyhow, I reckon the world is full of people that like gold stars.  I know I do.  Now when I say gold stars, I mean the type that you used to get at school or at home for an achievement, you know the one, small and sticky!

Anyhow, at the end of March 2011, 120 Socks will be alive and kicking for 6 months (yeah, yeah,I know it seems like longer, but it isn't because I am not including those 3 days in September 2010 when I was just learning), and I kinda had a bit of a goal set in my head a couple of months back.  One part of the goal was to reach 10,000 hits and I am thinking that, that might just be possible (anyone who wants to go on a world tour of the site, please do so before month end) , and the other part of the goal, was to have 60 followers, or halfway to 120 socks if you get my drift.

So, whoever (if anyone) decides to be the 60th follower, I will hereby award them the gold star below!

Alright, daft, but kinda fun!!!

And to anyone that is already a follower, you are already a STAR.

Magpie Tales - Mona

This week's prompt from Tess @ Magpie Tales is a fairly familiar image, so it took me a while to work out where to go with it.  In the end, I decided to do a small piece on two teenagers from Dublin (Ireland) visiting the Mona Lisa in the Louvre on a school trip.  Apologies to anyone that might have difficulty with the local dialect, and also for the sentence alignment, for some reason the tabs were acting up and no matter what I did, they just sat a little odd.

For other interpretations of this week's prompt visit Magpie Tales HERE.

Steve:              Wat do ya want to come in here for?
Amy:                To see her eyes.  They say dat her eyes follow ya all around the room.  Me Grandad said dat when he was here, when he was young like, dat he just had to come and check her out, see if the thing wit her eyes was really true.
Steve:              Was he here during the war?
Amy:                Nah.  Him and his friend Archie, they wer over for a match, some French team and Manchester United.
Steve:              Ah right.
Amy:                He went to all four corners of the room he did, and der they wer, da eyes as sure as anythin', staring him out of it.
Steve:              Wat eyes?
Amy:                Mona’s eyes ya dope.
Steve:              Yeah?  Followin' him around like?
Amy:                They wer lookin’ at him, no matter wer he stood.
Steve:              He could have turned his back on her.  That wud hav made it trickier.
Amy:                Leonardo was a ‘genius’ Steve, not a bleedin’ magician.
Steve:              Di Caprio?
Amy:                Wat? Not the movie star you thick.  Leonardo Da Vinci, the guy dat painted herself.  Some say she's a man, Mona dat is.
Steve:              A wat?  You’re not serious.  Though now dat I'm lookin' at her, she does look sorta odd, ya know, like one of them faces dat they stick into somethin' else.
Amy:                Nah.  She, I mean he, doesn't look like dat.   Sorry Mona.

Steve:              Wat are ya sayin’ sorry to a blinkin’ paintin’ for?
Amy:                Just in case.
Steve:              In case wat?
Amy:                In case der is a bit of a magician in her after all.
Steve:              Oh right.  Yeah ya might hav’ somethin’ der.
Amy:                Wat’s wrong wit ya Steve?  Ya look all nervy, like you’ve seen a ghost or
Steve:              Well I don’t like it here.
Amy:                Why not?  I think it’s great, beats bein’ in bleedin’ school anyhow.
Steve:              Yeah, well I thought when they said we wer going to Paris, dat it wud be Euro Disney, not all this posh stuff (he looks around him).
Amy:                So wat?
Steve:              It’s like visitin’ another world.
Amy:                Wat wrong wit dat?
Steve:              It’s not dat ders anythin' wrong wit it, it’s just...
Amy:                Just wat?
Steve:              It’s a bit bleedin’ scary.
Amy:                Scary?
Steve:              Yeah, like all these paintins’ and all.
Amy:                Wat about them?
Steve:              Well Mona.
Amy:                Yeah?
Steve:              I don’t think she’s da only one dats lookin’ at us.
Amy:               Ah Steve, are they really scarin’ ya?  Don’t ya worry.  I'll mind ya.  I like a guy with a bit of a soft side (she links his arm). 
Steve:             Hey, there’s Miss Brennan.
Amy:               Miss Brennan.  Howya (she waves).  Miss, we're over here.  Sorry Miss.  Steve here just wanted to see Mona.  Didn't ya Steve?  Come on will ya, before Miss Brennan has a heart attack.
Steve:             Dats right, land me in it why don’t ya.
Amy:               Keep it down Steve. Did I not tell ya?

Steve:             Tell me wat?

Amy:               Your woman Mona, she can hear as well.
Steve:             (shaking) You're not serious.
Amy:               Come on. Don't worry, didn't I say dat I wud mind ya.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Walking/Photo Journal - Chainsaw Man

Another great sunny Dublin day yesterday, so I spent most of it outside feeding the poor plants and young trees that thought they were deserted, along with the odd bit of weeding.  Mr Socks was out there to, putting together the beginning of steps, so that the risk of sliding down the hill out back, would be somewhat eased.  Did I tell you, that one of my favourite activities is watching Mr Socks work, and you just got to love a man with a chainsaw! 

I did manage to make the hungry worker a cup of tea at one point, whereupon Mr Socks was joined by a neighbour Patrick Pye, a local artist that I will hopefully do a post on soon.  I think his quote of the day yesterday was one about marriage, Patrick incidentally is 80 and is married 40 years, but anyhow this is his theory on marriage or specifically the age one should get married. 

'As an artist, and you leave college, at lets say 20, you need to spend the next ten years working out what you want or more importantly need to do, then you need to spend the next ten years convincing other people that your work is deserving of an income, and then you are free to marry.'  I knew I had done something wrong! 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Miram O Callaghan in Conversation with Roddy, Rory & Ita Doyle at the Library

I went along to Tallaght Library last Thursday for the interview with Roddy Doyle and his parents with the wonderful Miriam O Callaghan.  I say wonderful because one, I had a very high opinion of Miriam before the interview, and two because after it, it went up a couple more notches.

Firstly, she did a very good job of putting everyone at their ease, including Roddy Doyle's parents, who turned out to be really interesting and also very moving to listen to.  You'll get a chance yourself to listen by clicking the link below, and also because Miriam was really supportive to the school students that came along, giving lots of encouragement and praise with a bit of humour fired in for good measure.

Now I am sure interviewing, even very good interviewing always throws up the odd curve ball, but Miriam had more than her fair share to deal with last Thursday, when having waited for the production team to do all the sound checks, whilst Miriam chatted to everyone, we had a power failure, complete black out.  Initially, most thought it would last a couple of minutes and then we would be off again, but it turned out the whole area was down and the ESB had no idea when they would get it back up again......interviewing nightmare..... except that the sound man had back up batteries!  As the setting up of the new sound level would take about 15 minutes, it was decided to have a bit of a question and answer session while we waited.  This was really good, with some great questions from the students about Roddy's characters and stories, and it was awful pity that it wasn't being recorded, and again to Miriam's credit, not only did she praise and encourage the teenagers, but she also managed to store up items in her head out of the responses from the Q & A, for the interview once it got rolling.

So the first part of the interview, all 4 minutes before the power cut had to be scraped, because the sound would be different, and then 15 to 20 minutes later, the sound guys had everything set up on battery, when guess what, yes you've guessed it, the power came back on.  So..........this meant changing all the sound settings again, another 10 or 15 minutes, and me thinks deffo an interviewer's worst nightmare.  But the lady just kept on going, charming everyone, and smiling all the way through it.  So when we did finally start, the below recording took place and well worth a listen to, so get listening.

Miriam O Callaghan in conversation with Roddy, Ita and Rory Doyle  HERE

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Daffedy Daf!

Not quite Wordsworth, but they do look good, sort of makes me feel all that digging was worthwhile last September!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Cruel World of Editing

Yes I know, it doesn't seem long since my last 'editing' post, but editing is a bit like most crazy things that invade your life, it sort of takes over, because everything is structured around either 'doing it', or 'not doing it'.  Now just to clarify here, when I use the term 'editing', I am not talking about fixing the final draft, I am talking about writing the second draft better than the first!!!

In part, I am happy enough with things, despite having to drag myself to the keyboard more than once this week, progress was achieved, although I am wondering should I be brave enough to read the three chapters that I have edited so far, in case the dreaded 'all morning to put in a comma and all afternoon to take it out again' phrase might start ringing alarm bells.

So maybe this is a good time to tell you one of the many things that I have learned about editing, (I imagine, I still have an awful lot more to learn), which is that each change of sentence has a ripple effect.  For example, you put the word 'had' in a sentence, because you left it out first time around, and then you end up with too many 'hads' on a page, or you change the content or emphasis of a sentence, only to discover that it doesn't sit nearly as snugly with the surrounding sentences anymore, or even worse, frustration sets in, and you start deleting at speed perfectly good sentences, cause, well you just do.  Now, I know this is something that I recognised before, namely in editing short stories, poetry, the odd dabble at play writing and so on, but somehow it takes on a whole new dynamic, when changes, especially of emphasis, or shifts in mood start to influence a novel.  You have to remember that on page 19, chapter 2, you already made a subtle reference to a particular thing, so you can't repeat this reference on page 220, chapter 33, if you get my drift.

I have also learned, which I should have known already, and in way of course I did, that apart from sharpening up your work, you are adding another layer, a small detail here, a question there, a smell or sound, things that first time around did not exist in this fictional world that is THE NOVEL, but again the scale is the scary thing, because you know that as a reader, you have gone through 100 pages of a novel, and wondered why the writer is telling you that small detail again that they told you 100 pages earlier!

(I feel more notepads coming on to replace the dozen or so I had on the first draft!!!!)

Finally, I have discovered something about myself, although as yet, I am not sure if it is a good or a bad thing.  I have discovered, that I like to divide and conquer, but starting with the little conquests first. 

Grammar, getting rid of cliches (all two of them that I found) etc got tackled first, then came sharpening of sentences, then came small details popping in here and being taken out there, then came odd moments when my characters started to wear new clothes, and started to walk around the place like they have just been given a makeover from one of those 'What not to wear' programmes, and finally I turn to the big things, which is where I am at now, needing to completely somersault Chapter 1, make a small paragraph in Chapter 3 become a major turning point, and fix a passage of time in Chapter 2, so the reader is brought back 'clearly' to a point that happened 2 pages earlier.

Okay, you are getting to realise how mad I have become, so just in case someone starts to send the men in white suits around, I am not despondent about all the big things I still have to do, because tomorrow I have a free day from all activities except editing, so I am going to set up camp early, and work to the finish or the death, or whatever, god awful hour, it takes me to get the darn thing done.  

Please note, when I say 'done', I mean fixing Chapters 1-3, not the whole thing!!!!!

Thought for the Weekend - Elizabeth Taylor

I guess with the weekend that's in it, it makes sense that we take a quote from one of the greatest female movie stars of all time.  I have heard lots of quotes on the radio and on t.v. over the last couple of days, but the one below struck a cord with me.  After all, if we don't live by the things we are passionate about, what do we live by?

'I've always admitted that I'm ruled by my passions.'
- Elizabeth Taylor -

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Saving of Sobul -Chapter 1 - Part 2

Colias and Indra reached an opening surrounded by barren trees that stood so high they framed the sky like the eye of a cave.  As Indra rose, spreading his beam of light, the dead russet branches grew lush green leaves, followed by berries the colour of carmine and corolla petals of ghost wings.  The wings grew and grew surrounding Colias like an enormous world cloud.  He could see Indra above him as he allowed himself be seduced by the circle of dream. The music within it, one of beauty and sweetness, called the song thrushes from the forest.  The birds forming a carpet beneath Colias, brought him out of the darkness into a whitened blue sky.

He travelled north over a lush valley with steep drifts on either sides and woodlands of hazel bellowing down to an ancient stream.  Finally, the song thrushes led him to a meadow of ruby poppies and clusters of bright yellow monkey flowers, each stained with blood-drop emlets, as if the poppies were metamorphosing them into surrender.

Colias could see Indra ahead of him fighting the lips of the monkey flowers that sniped at his wings.  The circle of dream scattered as Colias regaining his earthly awareness, looked around him.  Then he saw her.  Beyond the sea of wild flowers, a magnificent red creature with tiny snowdrops above her eyes.  It had been a long time since Colias had seen a deer, and certainly never one of such beauty.  She was swift and nimble, with an air of unpredictability about her; her black diamond eyes staring across the meadow, as if sensing something different.

When she turned to retreat, the petals of the wild flowers closed behind her.  Colias wasted no time following, the speed of his movement gaining pace with his intake of breeze.  Indra freeing himself from the monkey flowers flew towards him as they both watched the graceful animal head for the stream.  Once there she slowed, carefully crossing on a path of stones, ensuring she did not touch the water.  On reaching the stream, Colias instincts told him to do the same, and once safely on the other side, himself and Indra entered the hazel forest.

Tale to be continued on later post......

Novel Madness - Editing, editing and more editing!

I've reached the point, having done the editing process for the last couple of days, that I am beginning to wonder if I can construct a sentence, let alone have a writing style!

Having received feedback from four respected sources, (otherwise known as the good people who volunteered to read my first three chapters), I am still feeling reasonably okay, despite some editing burn out.  In the main, the feedback was rather positive and the writing had far less grammatical corrections than I would have expected.  So all okay so far.

But the editing process is funny in a way, because much of it is about getting the nuts and bolts right, and there is not a lot of thought for the emotion behind the writing.  I think a new wave of emotion will come about when I get the tidying up done, but for now I am going to keep going at the practical fixing bits.  Really, I can't thank my four victim readers enough, not just for their effort, but because, I learned a couple of interesting gems, like 't-shirt', should be 'T-shirt', as the garment got it's name from the shape of the letter, and that any number of arguments can exist when it comes to personal preferences, some readers questioning everything and others less so, which all in all, gets little old me, to question practically everything as well.

My plan is still on track for having the first 3 chapters ready to take flight very soon, but I am hearing a rather nagging voice from inside my head, telling me that I might, even at this late hour in the process, have to turn chapter 1 into a complete flip, and heavens knows what that might fire up time wise.

I think I should go back and read my 'What does being a Novelist mean' again, by way of encouragement to keep going.  In the interim, for anyone interested, above is what my printed first draft of the novel looks like!


Daff Discovery

The walking/photo journal has been on a bit of a lapse lately as life has gotten in the way as it sometimes does.  I don't plan to take photos for the rest of the year sitting down, but today can be an exception. 

Normally I have my fix of caffeine about 10.30, it usually happens after I have done some of the things I have to do, should do, and think I want to do.  The first of these being that awful housework rubbish which includes a list so long in the morning that I wonder why I haven't turned into one of those metal robots a long time ago, you know the stuff, empty dishwasher, clear up after a morning kitchen war, feed the dog, put out washing.  Then I go on to the office tasks, anything from tax returns, salaries, answering phones, filing, blah, blah and blah, and finally if I am lucky I get to grab some writing time. 

They don't always happen in that order, and they don't always happen, but you get the gist.  Anyhow, in need of my caffeine fix, and with the old sun coming out to play, I thought why not have said caffeine outside, which I did. Now as I normally blog when I am taking a break, I wondered if the laptop, (my old one having needed to be plugged in all the time or it would die) would get a signal outside?

So, I was delighted to discover that it does, which is a bit of a miracle because where we live is sorta in no mans land when it comes to Internet coverage and one rash turn can cause the whole thing to crash.  Hope you enjoyed my tiny bit of waffle, just thought I'd fill you in while I emptied the cup! Maybe I should get out more?????  Back to the grind, enjoy the pic!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Saving of Sobul - Chapter 1 - Part 1

In the forests of Montpelier, a great warrior named Colias arrived from Sobul wearing his battleshield marked in the bloodline of Avengis.  The shield had magic powers and would help protect him against man, beast and the gods.  His companion for the journey was a papilio called Indra.  Indra was a magnificent butterfly-like creature with swallow tail wings that turned into a golden ball in flight.  He had been with Colias from the beginning of time, illuminating the worlds of darkness in Sobul with his hypnotic golden beam and was fated to be his trusted guide on this path of destiny.

When Colias entered the forest, the sounds reminded him of home, wind whispering through the leaves, distant streams, insects buzzing, creatures warning each other of intrusion.  Colias made little or no sound as he followed his faithful guide, the tree bodies creaking after him, oak eyes fixed on both of them as he set about his search for the light that would save his beloved homeland of Sobul.

Due to popular demand, to read more of this tale visit HERE

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Poetry Bus Poem - Moon Change

Yeah, yeah, yeah before everyone starts going on about not being allowed to visit the Moon, I missed that small instruction!

Anyhow, I figured seeing as how last night the full moon was at its closest point in its orbit to the earth, and it would appear larger and brighter, being only a mere 221,565 miles away (thanks to Words A Day for this piece of info), that it was a pretty good place to go.  So if Uiscebot is in a killing mood and won't let me on the bus this week, I'll just have to swing out of the skylight!

You can see all the wonderful prompt instructions HERE for those of you intelligent enough to follow them!

Moon Change

Standing halfway up my mother,
neck bent back, I looked hard at the moon,
heard stories about the man who lived in it,
full of cheese and shaped like a banana.

Older, out the back garden,
I saw it through my brother’s telescope,
all white and round and full of dark holes
that he told me were  ‘moon craters’.

Crossed- legged below the kitchen table,
I watched Neil Armstrong land on it,
bobbling with his flag of stars and stripes,
listening to the men from N.A.S.A.

Later I kissed under it, long and deep, 
dark romantic laneways lit by indigo blue,
falling in love and right back out again,
wondering who was looking at who?

When the kids were small, I swore by it,
wishing sleep would replace lonely nights awake,
whilst now, above the mountains it guides me home,
even in the light of day, teetering behind clouds.

Through the skylight-window on the upstairs landing,
it is closer now than any other night,
my neck bends back, just like a child,
as I remember piece by piece, the moon change.

Friday, March 18, 2011

No Romance - Nancy Harris

'No Romance' by Nancy Harris is now showing at the Peacock Stage of the Abbey Theatre and yours truly got to see it on Wednesday night.  I always enjoy going to plays, although more expensive than movies, there is just something utterly engaging about seeing real people creating a fictional world that you get to witness.

Anyhow, I was very impressed with 'No Romance' by Nancy Harris for a load of reasons, the main one being that wonderful treat when good writing and good acting come together, which it did in bucket loads in this play.

'No Romance', is divided into three parts, each one with a different story to tell, but they are all tentatively linked and deal with secrets, both in keeping them and being found out about them.

One of the things that I thought was particularly magical about this play was how easily it moved from humour to poignancy, each dealt with masterfully.  Obviously this was due to really good writing, which is why I picked up a copy of the play to see if I might learn something, but also it was a really good illustration of what good acting can bring to the written word. I was very impressed with Janet Moran who played Laura in the first story and Stephen Brennan and Tina Kellegher, who played Joe and Carmel in the second, and I thought Stella McCusker who played Peg in the final story was also fantastic, even if that particular part of the play could have been shorter. 

If you are interested in good writing and good acting, then I would recommend this play greatly.  It is running until the end of March, but book now as I found it difficult enough to get good seats, and I booked two weeks ago, so if you live in Dublin, get going!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St Patrick's Festival 2011 - Dublin

For all those who live in and around Dublin, or for those visiting, or (doing my bit for the promotion of Ireland as a destination in the future), anyone thinking of visiting, see below lists of things happening around this years St Patrick's Day event.

Have a happy St Patrick's Festival everyone

St Patrick's Festival

The festival gets under way today and runs until Sunday, and is themed in honour of Dublin’s designation as Unesco City Of Literature and will see legions of literary luminaries discuss, debate and reflect on Dublin’s cultural heritage.

This evening there’s an open discussion, titled How Ireland Gets Its Voice, examining the ways in which the Irish literary tradition has progressed into genres such as film, television and radio alongside theatre and music, at 6.30pm in the Alexander Hotel, Dublin 2.

On Thursday, the St Patrick’s Day parade, which is the centrepiece of the festival and the biggest open-air street performance in Europe, will also have a literary theme.
Based this year around a specially commissioned short story, Brilliant , by Roddy Doyle, the parade will come in eight “chapters”, each telling a chapter from the story, each performed by a different performing arts company.
The story, which can be downloaded HERE , tells the tale of two children who are hiding under the kitchen table listening to the grown-ups talk about their troubles.
They interpret the discussion to mean a black dog has stolen the city’s funny bone, so they set off to find the dog and the funny bone, and return triumphant.
The parade will also feature marching bands from Dublin, the United States, France and Spain.

“Dublin Swell” will see some of the finest writers and musicians come together to chart the course of literary Dublin in readings, music and song.
Among those performing will be Séamus Heaney, Maeve Binchy, Sebastian Barry, Roddy Doyle, Cathy Kelly, Joseph O’Connor, Paula Meehan, Paul Durcan and Mike Scott .

On Saturday, a literary treasure hunt invites participants to solve clues while finding out about Dublin’s poets and writers.
Teams of four can register at City Hall between 10am and 5pm for a free event with lots of prizes.

There will be numerous music events, including the festival céilí between 4.30pm and 7.30pm this evening in St Stephen’s Green; the Kilfenora Céilí Band play the National Concert Hall today and Thursday evening; a range of Irish bands play Vicar Street at 7.30pm this evening in an event titled Ceol , and Trad Trails sees different Irish musicians playing at street locations throughout Dublin city today, Thursday and Saturday.

The Skyfest fireworks extravaganza is in Wexford town this year, between 6.30pm and 8.30pm on Saturday

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

From Bone to Blossom - Eileen Casey & Emma Barone

From Bone to Blossom, an anthology of poetry & pen and ink drawings
 by Eileen Casey & Emma Barone was launched on the 12th February 2011. 

It is a wonderful publication and since the launch, I have had a number of enquiries as to where copies can be purchased, so for anyone interested in picking up a copy, it is now available in Eason's Tallaght,
 Books Upstairs (the one opposite Trinity College Dublin) and the Tourist Office beside Books Upstairs in the city centre. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Planting - Magpie Tales

This week's image prompt from Tess @ Magpie Tales is below.  To read other contributors click  HERE.

Courtesy of Tess @ Magpie Tales

When the children left, it was the garden that absorbed her day, tending to it, creating things anew.  Winters were harsher with less to do, although she took joy from the small birds that came to feed, the goldfinches, and blue tits, and many more who entertained her through her kitchen window.  It was just like studying people in a way, they fought and got on, the bigger ones stronger and therefore more bullish when it came to getting their share of food.

But now it is Spring, and despite her aged bones she can get out to the garden again.  Her heart leaps a little, as it did every year at the early spring flowers, snowdrops the first, so small and pure and brave, ready to fight off the early frost, proving nature is full of contradictions.  Should it not be a less delicate flower that takes on such a noble quest?  Logic would say yes, but nature likes to tease that way.  A bit like her old body which aches as she kneels down to clear out the weeds, putting in a new bed of bulbs. 'Blue Iris' this year, 'on special' at the garden centre.  Why does her body ache when her mind feels as agile as a young girl?  She is glad for the new bulbs, their blue will appear in August with the warmth of summer days, and she will sit and admire them, remembering the ache they caused her knees, and smile.

Her grandmother had 'Blue Iris', lots of them.  'They are very reliable', she used to tell her as a girl, they never let you down.  Oh yes, it won't be long until August, the days will saunter by as they do now.  Little did she know all those years before as she ran with the legs of youth, that some pleasures last generations.

The Strand - Jingle Poetry

The next poem is an adaptation of an older one in response to this week's Jingle Poetry prompt, visit HERE for other contributors.

The Strand

I am three years old,
we walk along the strand, mother and I.
The tide’s coming in,
new smells in an unknown place,
the breeze battering my ears,
filling my hair with knots and sand.

Against the sea and sky he stands, my Dad,
trousers legs rolled up,
white chalk skin, unforeseen,
sober now all pubs are closed.
There are others too,
faces hidden that laugh,
knowing things I cannot know.

He turns to the sea,
his back to me.
I am three years old, cold.
The wind howls.
He walks further out,
the water eating  his feet.
Her hands grip mine,
I scream.

The strand is huge,
I hate it.
Swallowing  my sobs.
‘Shush,’ she says as my father turns,
out from the ocean,
back into childhood memory.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Walking Photo Journal - The House we live in

Okay I can't do my novel editing today as I am waiting on a man to fix the boiler and for some reason my head never settles into writing unless I feel that for the most part, I won't be disturbed.  Blogging however is different, so while I wait, I will fill you in on a bit of history about the house we live in.  Below by the way are 'before and after images' of part of our humble abode, notably the doorway to the loft bedroom, a room that has seen a bit of history in it's time.  So for those of you who might not know that we live in the cottage (which used to be a public house by the way) where after the Irish Rebellion of 1803 Robert Emmet and his comrades hid in the Dublin Mountains, (the last place in fact that they were together as a group), hopefully you will enjoy this extract from R R Madden's 'The Life & Times of Robert Emmet', published in 1880.

On the night of Wednesday, the 27th July 1803, they left Mrs Bagnal's,declaring that they would not be the cause of any person suffering on their account.  Their bivouac for this night was in a small glen not far distant from Mrs Bagnal's, where the sky was the canvass of their tents, and their only tapers the brilliants of heaven.
Here chilled from the night air and dew, and no doubt suffering from want of food, on the morning of the 28th they made their way to a public house kept by William Kearney, about two and a half miles nearer Dublin than the place where they had spent the night.  After taking such refreshments as the place afforded they still remained, some of them testing the comparative properties of Kearney's Parliamentarian and his home-brewed mountain dew - when Robinson, the barony constable of Upper Cross, who had been all that morning endeavouring to get on their trail, now stepped into Kearney's amongst them; he certainly did not expect to meet them there, and he was near paying a large price for his morning visit but for the host, who protected him from Quigley's ire.  Kearney may be said to be one of themselves, he having fought through the battles of 1798, and was a particular friend of Stafford.  He let them know who this unwelcome visitor was, and saw him away from danger.

In Kearneys' house there was a small upper room, with a very narrow stairs leading to it.  It had scarcely the appearance of an apartment used for ordinary purposes.  It was a cock loft, and had only a small window..  The greater number of the staff, particularly such as had on their uniform, were in this room.  About eleven o'clock, as one of the men was looking out through the window, he perceived a military party, composed of army and yeomen, something more than 500 strong. The latter were commanded by Mr. La Touche, Captain of the Rathfarnham Mounted Corps of Yeomen, and Mr. R. Shaw as second in command.  They were returning from Mrs Bagnal's, where they had been seeking for the refugees.  When they were perceived they were too close upon them to even make an attempt at escape.  The officers then formed a cordon about the house, but their lines were at a tolerable distant from it.  They had no alternative left but to surrender at discretion, or fight as long as they could stand. The house was slated and had tolerable good walls, but very low; and as I observed had no windows to fire out through.  Badly as they were situated for defense against such superiority, they resolved not to surrender with life.  The party consisted of Mr Emmet, Heavy, Quigley, Stafford, Mahon, Wyld, Cummins, two Parrots (brothers), Phepoe and a person under an assumed name, supposed to be Aylmer; Arthur Devlin, John Neil, a brother-in-law to O'Dwyer, and Byrne, who deserted from the Castle guard on the 23rd inst.

The only noise made was the throwing up of hammers of three blunderbusses, and renewing the priming in their pans, Arthur Devlin knelt down in the middle of the floor, with the muzzle of his blunderbuss covering the head of the narrow stairs, his left hand steadily supporting the piece, and his finger laid on the trigger.  All was now as silent as death.  Kearney and his wife stood on the floor below, as mute as Egyptian mummies.  Mr. La Touche and Mr Shaw entered, and some of their men drew a little closer to the house.  Mr. Shaw said, "Well Kearney, have you got any strangers here?"  "No Sir," was the reply; "the house is not large, and you can see easily through it."  Mr. Shaw looked into the tap room whose door was partly open, and then, throwing a look all round, he observed the narrow stairs leading to the apartment where the objects of his inquiry lay crouched for the time like tigers in their lair. Immediately before the gentlemen entered Kearney perceived two or three baskets at the door, which were used for bringing turf down from the mountains by being suspended across a horse's back.  These he laid hold of, and threw one of them on the first step of the stairs, and each of the others over it in a careless and disorderly manner, to give that passage the appearance of not being in frequent use, Mr Shaw still pointing upwards, asked is there any one up here.  "No Sir," said Kearney, with an astonishing firmness, "we made no use of that place but to throw some light lumber on it - it is not able to bear anything heavy on it."  Mr. S had at this time laid one foot on the first step, and was rising the second to ascend, when Mrs Kearney caught the skirt of his coat, and, with a gentle pluck, said - "Oh Sir, if you go up there you will fall down through it and be killed."  Had he advanced another step her last sentence would have been fulfilled, for he would have received Devlin's fire through the head, and the future Sir Robert Shaw's fate would have been sudden and awful; and the family in all probability might have remained since without a title.  Beyond dispute, it was to Kearney and his family that that gentleman owed his life; and strange are the vicissitudes to be met with on the pathway of life, the same William Kearney, his brother, and father, an octogenarian, were executed in 1815 on circumstantial evidence tendered against them for the supposed murder of a ploughman to one of the Shaw family.  I say supposed, for the missing many was never found dead or alive.

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