Friday, April 29, 2011

Thought for the Weekend -

'Be where you are, otherwise you will miss your life.'

- Buddha -

By the way,I will soon be back blogging again, and there are lots of things well worth blogging for, like an interview with the Hennessy Emerging Writer Winner, Eileen Casey, Book Club reviews on 'The Girls' by Lori Lansens, how the night at 'The Lonely Voice' in the Irish Writer's Centre went, and final edits to Chapters 1-3 for end April deadline, not to mention everything else that happened in between!  But in the meantime, have a great weekend.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

As quiet as a mouse

Just in case anyone is wondering why I have been so quiet over the last few days, it's because I am taking a very short break from blogging.  This week hubby and I are off work, and because we are kinda crazy, instead of doing the normal rest and relaxation thing, we are out working in the garden.  I spent 9 hours yesterday sanding down decking, a more boring job there could not be, whilst my partner in crime lay out the beginning of a path!  The proof photographs will be available sometime around the end of the week, but in the meantime I'll go back to being as quiet as a mouse!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On Sunny Days

On sunny days I think I live in the most beautiful place on earth.  In my head I know there are probably more beautiful places, but on sunny days even if there are, it doesn’t matter. 
I get frustrated at times that I can never quite capture it with my camera.  It must be a trick nature plays, for no matter where I stand or how long I wait, I never get what my eyes send to my heart. 
When I first came here, I thought all about the mountains, the lives they had seen go by, and how they stood magnificent.  Later I fell for the trees, like you would fall for a new lover, bare or laden with leaves, red berried or blossomed; they had a way about them, a way different to the mountains.  There were quiet times, when I would watch them sway, listen to them creak, but on sunny days when all is still except for the hum made by the hovering bees, they can just be.
There is a mist, or a veil up here, it lies as if caught in the silence of snow, settling over places further away, changing the colour of the mountains from black blue to pink powder grey. 
You can hear the bird song too on sunny days, not like in January when it falls like drops of rain.  No it too is different now, more a celebration, an eager tease, even the odd jackdaw cawing loudly disturbed from sleep.
I think about all this as I drink my coffee, as I look at the plants we will soon put into the ground, plants that will hopefully survive the sharpness of the winters here, and will gain their place in this small piece of the most beautiful place on earth, at least on sunny days.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Listowel Writers Week 1st - 5th June 2011

Celebrating 40 Years of Books and Culture in Listowel


Listowel Writers’ Week will celebrate its 40th anniversary festival this year, commencing on 1st June and continuing until 5th June 2011

The ruby year celebrations will have performances by the very best in writing including, Robert McCrum, Richard Dawkins, Alice Sebold, David Sedaris, Rita Ann Higgins, Michael Holroyd, John Connolly, Gerald Celente, Blake Morrison, John Lynch, Catherine Dunne, and Edward St Aubyn to name a small selection. Festival Chairman Michael Lynch stated that “the festival is renowned for having no airs and graces, yet it gives festival goers an intimate opportunity to meet and mingle with the biggest in the local and international literary world within the confines of a small town where every venue and performance is within easy walking distance.

For details of workshops, event, bookings etc click HERE

Cracked Eggs - Magpie Prompt Week 62

Below visual prompt from Tess @ Magpie Tales - To read other contributions this week's click HERE

Courtesy of Tess @ Magpie Tales

Cracked Eggs

‘Your father’s back,’ I hear my mother say.  But I already know this, his anger seeping through the cracks in the door long before he turns the key.  The cups on the dresser rattle as the door slams shut coffin-like. The air in the house is sparing, threatening.  I sit and wait, hoping I might drift into the faded flowery wallpaper.  His eyes speak first, firing. No dinner yet, no plate filled, no place set.  He is not pleased, he never is.  I watch him untie his boots, big strong hands with nails of ingrained dirt and lines that mirror a rugged, ragged face.  I hear the splash and sizzle from the kitchen as the knife cracks the shells, and then the smell of fried eggs.  
We both wait while he eats; him first, always first. Through the corner of my eye, I watch him, his knife upright as the food from the willow patterned plate gets shoved into his mouth.  Then the blind raging anger that has hovered since the moment he turned the key releases itself, spitting out the food he roars.  ‘Bloody woman, can you do nothing right?’ And the plate with fried eggs goes flying through the air.  She says nothing, she never does.  The door slams shut once more and he is gone, leaving us as castoffs in his broken wake.  I sit in silence, in case he might come back, bruised that way only children know.

Crime Writers in Conversation - The Gutter Bookshop

This sounds like it will be a great night, with both Brian McGilloway and Sean Black talking about their novels and their writing. Not one to be missed!

Brian McGilloway is the author of the bestselling Inspector Devlin novels “Borderlands”, “Gallows Lane”, “Bleed a River Deep and “The Rising”. His new novel “Little Girl Lost” will be published in May. Sean Black’s first two thrillers “Lockdown” and “Deadlock” were critically acclaimed and favourably compared to work by Harlan Coben and Lee Child, his third novel “Gridlock” will be published in August. 

Brian McGilloway and Sean Black in conversation
@ The Gutter Bookshop
Friday 6th May – 6.30pm until 7.30pm
Admission FREE, everyone welcome  

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Lonely Voice @ The Irish Writers Centre

Small piece of news

I'll be reading my short story 'Hello' at the Irish Writers Centre on the 27th April.  The event is part of the centre's programme called 'The Lonely Voice'.  There will be four readers on the night and the readings will start at 7 o clock.

If any of you are in Dublin, please come along, and for those of you that have not had the misfortune to meet 120 socks in person before, at the very least you will be able to put a face to the name.  I promise not to wear all 120 socks on the night!

Detailed below is some information on The Lonely Voice platform from the Irish Writers Centre

At the Irish Writers’ Centre we are committed to supporting writers at every stage of their development.  With this in mind, we are delighted to present a monthly event for emerging writers.
The Lonely Voice: Short Story Introductions will take place on the last Wednesday of every month.  Up to four short story writers will be selected and invited to read their work at the event.  We are particularly interested in providing a platform for emerging writers, who previously may not have had the opportunity to read their work in public.

Thought for the Weekend - Samuel Beckett

Now I know lots of people have heard this quote before, but just like the reason why clichés become clichés, many people can relate to it.  The quote below is a slightly different one to the normal one, so I guess Mr Beckett was asked about failure more than once!

'Go on failing. Go on. Only next time, try to fail better.'

- Samuel Beckett - 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Laundry Day - Walking/Photo Journal

Laundry Mountain Style

Who needs a clothesline?

Hennessy Literary Awards 2011 - Winning Stories & Poems

Firstly huge congratulations to all the winners of the Hennessy Awards 2011.  The Hennessy Awards in Ireland are like the Oscars of the Literary World, and from this point onwards all of the winners will be referred to as Hennessy Winners!

Later in the month I will be doing an interview with the wonderful Eileen Casey, winner of the Emerging Fiction Award, so keep a look out for that.

But if like me yesterday, you are keen to read the winning entries, here are some links to each of them. 

First Fiction Winner Siobhán Mannion with her story 'Lighting Bugs' can be read HERE

Emerging Fiction Winner Eileen Casey with her story 'Macaw' can be read HERE

Emerging Poetry Winner Afric McGlinchy two poems 'Do not lie to a lover' & 'Under the heart, a horseshoe shape' can be read HERE

The overall New Irish Writer 2011 Award went to Siobhán Mannion, and the Hennessy Hall of Fame Award went to the wonderful Sebastian Barry.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

SNAP - Written & Directed by Carmel Winters

I went to see Snap at the Irish Film Institute last Friday primarily because I had heard so many great reviews about the film and also because the director, acclaimed Irish playwright Carmel Winters was doing a Question and Answer session afterwards.

Before going to the movie I knew the film had a very harrowing story to tell, and one which would be difficult to witness, but a part of me believed, (and as it turned out rightly so) that if lots of great people had so many great things to say about this movie, then it was not one to be missed.

SNAP is a taut, suspense-filled psychological drama about three generations of a family poised it would seem to repeat the mistakes of the past. In this harrowing tale, different cameras tell divergent stories as the documentary style revelations are presented through fragments of memory, recall, and down right 'telling it as it is', specifically in the character of Sharon, played by Aisling O Sullivan (Raw - The Clinic) , who gave an absolutely amazing performance, probably one of the best and at times most sensitive characterisations I have seen in a very long time. 

Aisling is supported by Stephen Moran who again is rather brilliant in the role of Sharon's son, the teenager who sets out on a path that will change everybody's future, a path inextricably linked to the past.  Even the toddler in this movie played by Adam Duggan is tremendous, and if Oscars could be given out by yours truly, I would give each of them one without hesitation.  Alongside these are celebrated Irish actress Eileen Walsh (EDEN, Winner: Best Actress, Tribeca Film Festival 2008), and the wonderful but sadly late Mick Lally, who's last performance was in this film, a performance that personified the man's acting career, being utterly believable, moving, brave, and perfection in the craft of acting.

SNAP is the kind of movie that through its power, encourages you to rethink what you're witnessing, and from the opening track of the song 'You are my Sunshine', I was hooked. There were parts of it that had so many subtle references, that you were constantly trying to fill in the whole story, whether from a flashback with little or no dialogue, an expression on someone's face, a rush of anger, then sadness, or old family movie clips where often, all you got was the sound from the clip, the imagery being something that your imagination filled in itself.

During the question and answer session afterwards, Winters explained, this was something she wanted as part of the movie experience, that in the dark of the cinema, when it was just you and the unfolding story , that as you pieced together all the bits into a cohesive understanding, you too were part of this movie. 

For me, this film reached a point that not many movies are capable of bringing you to, the point where you know that you have been changed by it, and it will remain with you for a very long time afterwards.

When the movie/Q & A ended, Carmel Winters stayed on for a little while afterwards just to chat.  I had a question that I knew would play on my mind for a very long time if I didn't get a clear answer to it, so with Carmel still there, I went over and asked her my question. 

Firstly, just to put in here, Carmel Winters came across as an utterly lovely person, so when she turned to me and said 'What do you think happened?' , I knew she was again connecting me back to my experience of the film, so when I gave my answer as to what I thought might be the actual back story , she said 'absolutely right',and just like when you have finished a great book, I knew I would revisit this movie again.

If you haven't seen this film, go see it now, don't wait for DVD, it won't give you the same connection.  You need to see this movie in a cinema!  So you're been warned, don't miss out on one of the best Irish films of the decade!!

I'll end with a quote from the good lady herself, after she was asked was the film challenging to create, which I think gives us an inkling as to why this film ended up a success of creative ambition, direction, writing, acting, and performances that will change you.

'I love when something cuts right to the bone, right to the edge. I am interested in that place because I think it is rarely done justice to. When people do go to the edge of things it is often done in an exploitative and sensational way, so I love the challenge of actually going to places that very few people do, but actually in real life people find themselves in, wholly alone.'


Monday, April 11, 2011

Magpie Tales - Butterfly Wing

This week's visual prompt from Tess at Magpie Tales set me down a path of wine and wonder, but then I read a response from the fab Jinksy, and all I could see was a butterfly in the glass, so I got to thinking about a short story I wrote a while back called Butterfly Wing.  Below is the opening paragraph.

Butterfly Wing
The tiny droplet slid down Larissa’s inner thigh, barely noticeable at first, touching her kneecap with the gentleness of a butterfly wing.  A car sped past catching her unawares as the bead of the embryonic fluid reached her swollen ankle. She stood quite still, the sounds of an oblivious outside world pounding on around her as Larissa understood with certainty that the life she had hidden inside her for so long would soon have to leave. The cold Moscow night bit hard against her skin.  She placed a hand beneath her coat and held the underside of her engorged belly.  Larissa’s dark hair carried itself rebelliously in the wind, the only part of her now believing it was free to choose.

Poetry Bus Poem - Crooked Line

This week the wonderful Bug came to the rescue of a near driver-less bus, and did so with the great prompt of starting a poem with the words 'I am a crooked line'

I wish I could say that I wrote an equally great poem, but I'm afraid that is not the case, but I did write something, albeit in a rush this morning, sorry Bug.

For some wonderful bus rides from this great prompt, visit HERE

Crooked Line
I am a crooked line,
that splits and divides,
like veins that throb of an unknown kind.
There are times I am angry, afraid, or less sure,
and times I feel happy, brave and self-assured.
The way I can laugh like nothing else counts,
or cry so hard my heart just might bounce.
When I thought things would be straight,
they never could be,
because life has a habit of tricking you see.
Right from the start of that very first line,
there are twists and turns of an unknown kind.
You need to travel the path neither afraid nor confused.
It’s all about being crooked,
both happy and sad,
and running the line,
from beginning to end,
by grabbing on tight for the ride of your life,
as the crooked line’s truth,
is found in the fight.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Photograph Prose - When Newness Fades

Photograph Prose is a lovely new web site, and one that some of you might already be familiar with.  The idea behind it is that prose or poetry pieces are matched with photographs from their current gallery of images, a collaboration of the writer and the photographer.

All you have to do to participate is link into their site and register your details.  Once you are registered, you can view their UP Exhibit and submit a prose piece/poem against an image. 

I sent in a poem earlier this week, (a previous poetry bus one) about older relationships.  You can view it HERE on Photograph Prose.

When newness fades,
and years of being take their toll,
when things that matched,
seem less sure,
perhaps you should discard,
replace, or maybe just renew,
by looking close again,
to see what wasn’t obvious before.
Old patterns fade and fabrics wear,
but shape and form,
a solid base,
can ease together,
and once again embrace.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Novel Madness - Update

I am probably starting to bore everyone at this point regarding my blasted novel, because if I am boring me, then I am most certainly boring you.  But the update is this.

I finished editing of chapters 1-3, with the knowledge that chapter 1 needed turning on it's head.  So, I took a break and went back to look at my pitch letter, and the story goes something like this. 

The first pitch letter was brutal, to the point that I had to squint an eye closed to avoid seeing it too clearly, the second one was better as it got a kind of structure to it, the third one, I was told by hubby seemed confident, self assured without being over the top.  This was the one I sent off to my four readers/victims.

I got lots of good advice, which was indeed brilliant, so I made all the subtle changes, and ended up with version 4, well really version 44 because I kept re-doing it.  So there I was kind of happy, you know in that well, maybe, probably, ah yes it is grand, sort of way, when I realised that after I put in 'dear Annie Agent' address lines, date etc, that the blasted thing was a page and a half long, which in the rules of pitch letters is a big no, no, hard enough to get someone to read chapters and synopsis, without exhausting them with the pitch letter.

Soooooo, yes I cut the blasted thing, slashed sentences in half, which at the start made them look less attractive, stayed up until 2 o'clock this morning, changing bits, until probably the 99th version stared back at me from the laptop and I said fine, over, done, dusted, never to be revisited, unless sanity is prepared to be risked, etc etc.  And in my sad, trying, making progress at the speed of a snail way, I was happy.

Sooooooo, today after doing the day job that pays, I planned to clean my house, get that spring cleaning started and feel all fresh and marvelous.  But did I?  Of course not.  The masochist in me pulled out chapter one to believe it or not, tentatively review how I was going to turn it upside down. 

I started by writing completely new opening lines, rewriting them until they looked reasonably good, then tried to incorporate said lines into original opening chapter.  I was halfway through this when I made my discovery.  What was that you might ask?  Or not! 

Well I discovered that the narrative voice which now begins the chapter (the new bit) was very different to the rest, and better which is good, but not so good when you think about the rest of it which I now know I will need to change, and just like a breeze that takes you by surprise on a calm sunny day, a voice from one of my readesr/victims floated by, and I remembered her saying of the first three chapters, that the narrative voice in chapter 1 was weaker than the narrative voice of the other two main characters in chapters 2 & 3.

I guess, I had chosen to ignore this piece of knowledge, but now that it has jumped up and bitten me, after spending the last 2 hours working on the chapter, I am going to walk away from it, because 2 hours ain't going to fix it baby.

Anyway, I will return to it, because I am sad, mad, bad, all rolled into one, but in the meantime, here is a link to some good rewriting advice for anyone interested.  Don't all stampede at once!


The Hellfire Club

My walking/photo journal has been a bit hit and miss of late, other than laziness and tricking myself into believing that I am too busy, there is no real excuse. 

But I did go walking on Sunday, all the way up to the Hellfire Club.  It is an historical place in Dublin and one which gives you a great view of the city below.  I like going up there, mainly because I love walking in the forest, and the journey up has many wonderful forest distractions.  The breeze once you reach the top, is not for the faint hearted, so if you are going up on a blustery day, wear heavy shoes to keep you from flying off.

Historical background regarding the Hellfire Club is below for anyone interested.

The Hell Fire Club, is situated at 1275 feet, near the summit of Mount Pelier.  The site was originally a passage tomb. The tomb dates from the Neolithic Period (4500 - 2000 BC) and was constructed within a circle of large boulders known as a cairn.
Speaker Connolly built the house on Mount Pelier Hill in 1725. Connolly was one of the wealthiest men in Ireland; he had a Dublin house in Capel Street and a country estate at Castletown, near Celbridge. He constructed the club as a hunting lodge. Connolly is said to have destroyed the cairn while building the hunting lodge, making use of the boulders in its construction. (Sounds like something a modern day developer might have done in Celtic Tiger Ireland )
Anyhow, some time later the roof, which originally was slated, was blown off in a great storm. Locals attributed this misfortune to the work of the devil, in revenge for the destruction of the cairn. Following this event the lodge was seen locally as a place of evil. However Connolly replaced the slated roof with an arched one of stone.
The building consisted of two large rooms and a hall on the upper floor. A small loft was over the parlour and hall. The hall door was reached by a flight of steps. On the ground level was a large kitchen, servants' quarters and a number of small rooms. All the windows faced north, commanding a magnificent view of Dublin.
After Connolly's death in 1729, the Hunting Lodge remained unoccupied for a number of years until it was acquired by the infamous Hell Fire Club, from which it got its name. Hell Fire Clubs were established in the eighteenth century, and were associated with outrageous behaviour and depravity.
Richard Parsons, the first Earl of Rosse, established the Hell-Fire Club in Dublin in 1735. The president of the Hell Fire Club was named 'The King of Hell' and was dressed like Satan, with horns, wings and cloven hooves. One custom was that of leaving the vice-chair unoccupied for the devil - in whose honour the first toast was always drunk.
The Clubs became associated with excessive drinking. Scaltheen, a drink made from whiskey and butter was served in abundance during meetings of the Hell Fire Club.

Another story about the club concerns a young Bohernabreena farmer, who curious to find out what went on at the meetings, climbed up Mount Pelier one night. He was found by the members of the Club, dragged into the building and allowed to see the nights' activities. He was found the next morning wandering around the area, unable to speak and tradition says he spent the rest of his life deaf and dumb, unable even to remember his name.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Blog World of Socks

Some of you might have picked up the post last week about how the Blog World of 120 Socks was celebrating being 6 months old.  Well if you did, you know all about my mini plan to achieve 60 followers by the half-year point, the aspiration being that by the Blog's 1st birthday, there would be 120 socks/followers.
As Blogland has its own magic, my dream was realised and by the end of last week I had 60 socks/followers (now at 65!)

I was also secretly on the lookout to reach 10,000 hints by last week.  Yes, I know I am a very, very, very sad person.  

Again my wish became a reality, and I can now confirm that the award below for the 10,000th hit in the world of 120 socks, goes to Dave at Pics & Poems

If you haven't visited Dave before, my advice is to do so immediately, as you will be wowed by his poetry.

10,000th Hit Award
Pics & Poems

The above award was designed by the fabulous Alias Jinksy, who you can visit HERE and is far more creative than 120 socks will ever be!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Moon Change


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 window on the upstairs landing,
it feels closer now tonight,
my neck bends back, just like a child,
as I remember piece by piece, the moon change.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Silent moving shadow,
melanin coat,
keenly stalks her prey,
the hunt with slow majestic grace begins,
fixated stare that black-blood curls,
as paw to ground,
a soundless lethal shift,
which calls the wild,
the time to pounce,
as body sprints in rapid flight,
and shoulders glide,
to twist and turn,
from dust and earth, she leaps,
to trap her prey,
whine and wimp,
of throttled throat,
or broken crunch,
to deadly silence,
chase over,
battle won.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Saving of Sobul - Chapter 1 - Part 4

In the Forest of Answers the air was chilled, sharp and biting.  From the white earth grew tall brittle trees covered by emerald moss.  Makaylah and Peigi held hands in the forest and waited, all the time looking around them.  It was over the spirit of Makaylah that the light came.  Finjela, the mythical daughter of Oisin rose from nothing. At first faceless, her long feathered wings spread out like a peacock consuming the light, whilst behind her, amber stones of richness glowed.

‘My dearest Makaylah’ she whispered from above,  do you not know that he is here to take the light from you, that the snowdrops which protect you are his only means of bringing Sobul out of the darkness.’

‘I know Finjela, but what of my heart, it hurts so.  It aches as if he has already stolen my past and my future?’

‘If you go with him, like my father you will take earthly form, and the gods will no longer be able to save you.’

Colias and Indra having followed the amber glow of Finjela arrived as she issued her last warning.
‘Makaylah,’ called Colias, ‘if you come with me I will take care of you always.’

‘Brave Colias, do you want her to die for you? What price are you prepared to pay?’ roared Finjela.
‘I would die for her in an instant.’

Finjela spreads her wings out across the white earth and created a pool into the future.  In the glistening water, Colias and Makaylah were standing barefoot in the Forbidden Stream, the white snowdrops around Makaylah’s head rose and were absorbed into the golden ball of Indra.
‘What does this mean Finjela?’ pleaded the soft voice of Peigi.
‘It means this is their destiny, should they choose it.’

Just as Makaylah felt Colias in her heart, both knew right at that moment, that they had no other choice.

When they left the Forest of Answers, and arrived at the Forbidden Stream, they followed the vision, placing their bare feet in the water of dangers.  The white snowdrops rose into the golden ball just as they had seen in the pool that Finjela had created.  Colias knew he must stay and protect Makaylah.  It would be Indra now, filled with the light from the snowdrops that would return to save the Kingdom of Sobul.

As Colias and Makaylah kissed, the force of the centuries rose, emptying them of all godliness. Within moments they turned into their earthly forms, Makaylah the red deer, with one small snowdrop remaining on her forehead, and Colias transformed into the body of a Great Irish Elk, his antlers giving him the height of a grown man.

They watched Indra as he set off on his journey to Sobul, both of them knowing that the trusted guide, had a difficult path ahead. 

'Peigi, you must go with him to the edge of our world.'

'But what about you Makaylah, should I not stay here and ensure you do not come to any harm?'

'Colias is with me.  Go my dearest sister.  Indra has the snowdrops, part of me is with him and therefore, part of you.  There are dangers at the edge of our world that you can see him safely through.  After that, he must face his journey alone.'

To be continued in Chapter 2

Thought for the Weekend - Ashleigh Brilliant - TARGETS

With a surname like 'Brilliant', your life is bound to be a little unusual, so here a quote and a cartoon from MR BRILLIANT himself!

'To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first, then call whatever you hit the target.'

- Ashleigh Brilliant - Author & Cartoonist-

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