Tuesday, May 31, 2011

From Daft to Daffy

(A) The Daft Bit:

I was in a 'why the hell do I want to write mood' yesterday.  I thought about all the things I could be doing instead of writing, like living a normal life, you know the kind, orderly house, helping the community, shopping, reading, having coffee with the girls.  Well that argument kind of landed on its face, because although I try to be a good person, I am not your professional do-gooder, nor do I have the money for turning shopping into a hobby, and much as I love meeting my friends for coffee, I could never do it in a 'Sex and the City, or Friends' kind of way.  An orderly house would be good, but it wouldn't last long, and then I would have to do it again, and well, it's not exactly life shattering!  But, I told myself, I could do nice intelligent things, like read (mentioned that already), take up a new hobby, talk to my family etc.etc.  In the end, I settled on a creative choice.  You see, I had these Anemone (de chan) flowering bulbs/seed in my kitchen for ages, all twelve packs of them, 50 in a packet, which had been on special offer in Woodies a couple of months back.  So I thought, sod the writing, be creative another way and deal with the sods of earth.

The instructions were easy enough, plant bulbs 2" apart and 2" down in the soil.  So off I went yesterday, the rebel that I was, and started to plant.  My son had helped out earlier by bringing some top soil up, the sort of stuff which was nice and easy to work with once you did a bit of racking etc.  So, here comes the daft bit, or rather, the really daft bit, I never did the maths.  By that I mean, I never multiplied 50 by 12, giving 600 bulbs, and I never multiplied 600 by 2", which incidentally is 1200" or 100ft.  But I wasn't going to stop mid-way through the job, no slacking off on my new creative path, absolutely not, the writing was the enemy, this was creative fun, requiring nothing more than a little work, well 100ft of it, which I belatedly worked out last night when my thumb felt like someone had hit it with a hammer.  Yes, I know, I could have used one of those little gardening things, like the smiley lady in the picture has, the ones for digging small holes, but I didn't!  I thought what's 2", why get hung up on tools, so I pushed my little thumb 100 ft into the earth, all in the effort,just in case you have forgotten, to avoid writing.

One sore thumb later, and one failed plan, I went back to the keyboard early this morning, luckily, the thumb on the space bar does not take too much force, and gave in to the joy of writing all over again.

(B)  The Daffy Bit:

Discovered this new web site called Dog House Diaries - Thought you might like some retail therapy advice! Just as well, I didn't choose shopping!

Publishing Poetry & Short Stories - Day Not To Be Missed!

The Irish Writers' Centre is hosting an information day on Publishing Short Stories & Poetry on
Saturday 2nd July 2011

The day will start at 10.00am with registration and run until 4.30
Tickets are €60 (€50 for members) and can be booked via the Centre
@ 01 8721302 or email info@writerscentre.ie

See Link HERE

Speakers taking part are Ciaran Carthy, Declan Meade, Kevin Higgins, Kevin Barry, Rebecca O'Connor & Jessie Lendennie.

(If any of you are thinking about going, let me know as I hope to go along)

Monday, May 30, 2011

10 Writing Mistakes

As you all know by now, I have just started on Twitter.  I guess like most social networking, it has good and bad parts.  The trick is to work these out early, so you get lots of interesting/worthwhile pieces of information, (emphasis on the worthwhile here) and not get so distracted, that your unwashed dishes are a result of Twitter and not because of hours of writing.

Here's something that came over Twitter this morning, and I think it is a good one, well worth the read.  I am planning on testing my writing out against it, next time around!

Happy reading!



Saturday, May 28, 2011

Following on! Another Problem

Okay, so now I have another problem with my blog!

Googled the issue and it seems, although I might think at times that I'm special, in this case, the problem does not just exist in my blog world, other bloggers have suffered too.

None of them however, had an answer.  Now I know anyone who follows little old 120socks is hugely intelligent based on their choice of blogs to follow, but this now is the real test of your intelligence.

Problem:  My followers (all 76 of them) do not appear on my blog anymore.  I have tried under DESIGN, moving them on my sidebar etc, as that worked for me last time, but this time no success.

Any ideas wonderful followers.  I do so miss seeing all your lovely pictures!

RTE Guide/Penguin Competition 2011

Rules for RTE Guide/Penguin Short Story Competition:

Work for the RTEGuide/Penguin Ireland Short Story competition should be original, unpublished and previously not broadcast.

Short stories in English of 2,000 words or less.

Manuscripts must be typed and cannot be returned.

Entrants name and contact details (address, phone and/or email) should be on a separate page.

The closing date is 6pm,  15th July 2011.

Send your entries  to:

RTE Guide/Penguin Ireland Short Story Competition
PO Box 1480,
Dublin 4.

Friday, May 27, 2011

12 Tips for eliminating unnecessary words!

Almost always in writing, we use too many words. (9)

So I thought this link HERE would be useful.

Shortened intro:

Eliminate unnecessary words. (3)

(9 down to 3- not bad)

Of course, who needed an intro with a title?

(9 down to Zero - Perfect)

Common Comment Cure!

Thanks to one very intelligent lady, the Common Comment Curse has turned into the Common Comment Cure!

I am indebted Helen to you always!

Helen said...
Try this little trick ... sign out of blogger. Sign back in. "untick" the keep me signed in box.

The Common Comment

Okay, I just need to share this!

Why in the heck can I comment on some blogs and not on others?  Why is it that I cannot comment on MY own blog, and I am getting very, very tired of being treated as ANONYMOUS, no matter how many times I log it!

Just started on Twitter this week, and it is growing on me nearly as quickly as google blogging is not! Follow me HERE if you wish to join the revolution!

Please, please Google just fix the blasted thing, while part of me, still wants to be your friend!!!

Writer's Perspective - Characters

Maneul Puig - Characters
"I can only tell a story about a character who reflects my most burning problems. I believe in characters as vehicles of exposition. Their voices are full of hidden clues, and I like to listen to them. That's why I work so much with dialogue. What they don't say sometimes expresses more than what they do say. Mine is not the classic third-person voice."

Extract from Paris Review - Interview with Manuel Puig

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thought for the Weekend

"The good thing about writing books is that you can dream while you are awake."

- Haruki Murakami -

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Do you have a story?

New Writing from The Oscar Wilde Centre

Book Launch for Alms on the Highway: New Writing from The Oscar Wilde Centre
Venue: The Gutter Bookshop
Date: Wednesday 25th May – 6.30pm until 8pm

‘Alms on the Highway’ is a new collection of work from creative writing students at The Oscar Wilde Centre in Trinity College Dublin presented with a foreword by Irish writer Kevin Barry.

The launch will feature work from our own Eileen Casey in this exciting anthology from some of Ireland’s most promising new writers.

Free and everyone welcome.

Monday, May 23, 2011

100,000 in Dublin for Obama Visit

Obama Visting Ireland - Crowds at 3 o'clock today in antipation for this evening's meeting @ College Green Dublin.

Obama in Moneygall

Thank God he had the pint after holding the babies!

Now it's back to Dublin, where 100,000 people wait!

Dublin Writers' Festival - The Jekyll and Hyde Inheritance

Check this out this evening at the Samuel Beckett Theatre @ 7.30.  Sounds like it could be an interesting night.

Dublin Writers' Festival - The Jekyll and Hyde Inheritance
Presented in association with Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, supported by Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht - Chairperson: Mia Gallagher
For this one-off event, a select group of writers and musicians have been invited to respond to Stevenson’s concept of our ‘dual nature’, rendered so vividly in the Edinburgh-born author’s 1886 novella. Are we all touched by the benign and the base, the sacred and profane? If so how aware are we of our essential flaws and potentialities? And what are the religious, moral and societal consequences of our Jekyll and Hyde inheritance?

Reading their own short responses to the subject (commissioned exclusively for Dublin Writers Festival) are four writers. Bestselling novelist Louise Welsh is the creator of the chilling contemporary crime classics The Cutting Room and Naming the Bones. John Burnside is a Whitbread-winning poet and novelist whose haunting work in both forms casts dark shadows. Broadcaster, writer and former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway has tackled complex issues in his writing, from faith in a post-Christian age to morality in the current recession. Kevin MacNeil — author of A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde — is a prolific Scottish novelist, poet and playwright. To complement the readings, poet, broadcaster and music journalist Donny O’Rourke and guitarist/singer-songwriter Dave Whyte perform a selection of songs inspired by and reflecting upon the evening’s themes.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Poetry Bus - HELP!

The Poetry Bus needs help.

There is a bus load of talent raring to go, all that's required is a little money for the diesel to set it on it's way.

So jump on board and do your bit HERE.

Flash Fiction Competition - Closing Date 30th June 2011

Competition worth checking out here:-
Welcome to the Flash 500 Competition! When it comes to prizes, it often seems
as though flash fiction is the poor relation of writing competitions. The time seems right to inaugurate a flash fiction competition where the prize money reflects the skill required to encapsulate an entire story in just 500 words.

Now in its second year, this quarterly open-themed competition has closing dates of 31st March, 30th June, 30th September and 31st December. The results will be announced within six weeks of each closing date and the three winning entries each quarter will be published on this website.

Entry fee: £5 for one story, £8 for two stories
Optional critiques: £10 per story

Prizes will be awarded as follows:
First: £250 plus publication in Words with JAM
Second: £100
Third: £50
Highly commended: A copy of The Writer’s ABC Checklist

Payment options and entry instructions can be found on the Competition Entry Page

Friday, May 20, 2011

Twitter, twitter everywhere!

At long last 120 Socks is on Twitter!

If you are crazy enough, you can just click FOLLOW ME  and join in on the madness!

Tweet Tweet

Thought for the Weekend - Anton Chekhov

I have a plan for this weekend and it is to write, write, write, read and then write again.  So with that in mind, I figured the inspirational thought for the weekend should be focused to encourage writing better, or failing better, whichever slant your mind tends to follow.  Either way, I give you Anton Chekhov's thoughts on the art of writing.

'Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.'

- Anton Chekhov -

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Return of 120 Socks!

Okay, your peace and quiet is now over, 120 Socks is back.  After 2 weeks of no internet connection, I am on line again.

Living up in the mountains mean internet signals are somewhat like smoke signals, they can change shape and form depending on the wind.  But this time around it was different, as even the smoke signals stopped.  Apparently, after the problem laboured its way through various phone calls, engineers, and some DIY on behalf of yours truly, (not to be recommended) the culprit was discovered.  Lighting from two weeks ago played havoc with lots of things, including it would seem the phone lines, and somewhere along the way, our Internet connection was struck down by this act of God.

I felt a bit like I had lost a friend, which sounds a little sad, although it is not meant to.  But anyone who has been disconnected from their use of laptops, mobile phones, telephone lines etc, gets my drift.  I would love to say that I was writing loads of new material in the interim, but that would be untrue.  I was however working on things associated with writing, like pitch letter, synopsis and doing final edits on chapters of novel, and in part I did get success.  And, wait for it.......for the first time, the little package with opening chapters, synopsis and pitch letter aimed at seeking a book deal, went off in the post!  The recipient was a very valued advice source and, I got lots of positivity, (you should always lean to the positive I believe) and also, I managed to get a lot of good advice, mainly on my opening chapter. 

The opening chapter is somewhat of a camel at this point!  You know when you want a horse, but you get a camel, the reason being that I have done too many rewrites, spent too long going backwards and forwards, changing it from having lots of information to too little, then changing it from being too clinical to having too much emotion, then changing it back again and losing the flow that it might have originally had, because the crazy thing is, most of my rewrites were on chapter 1, the other two chapters, chapter 2 & 3 changed very little from their original form, yet according to my trusted advisor, (who I do trust), they work really well.  So I am guessing maybe I was doing too much digging with chapter 1, and in too many places, so all I ended up with was lots of holes, and the best thing might be to start it all over again (scary I know, but true).

So, with my head filled with lots of advice, I am going to do what I do best, work hard and get it right, starting by writing up my notes from this morning's phone call with my 'trusted advisor', and get chapter 1 to the same quality and interest of the other two chapters.  So fingers crossed for me! 

It's good to be back, hope some of you agree!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thought for the Weekend - Stephen King on Short Stories

As I am trying to do catch up big time over the last few days, I am going to incorporate the weekly Thought for the Weekend  with a brief note on my short story reading at the Irish Writers Centre.

Firstly seeing as how I am trying to put the two together, it seems only right that the Thought for the Weekend should be about short story writing.

'A short story is a different thing all together - a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.'

- Stephen King -

So just to say, the Irish Writers Centre is a wonderful place to read, full of atmosphere, old in the really good sense of the word.  My fellow readers on the night were Celeste Auge, reading 'Mammary World', Finbar Rafferty, reading 'The Tormentor', and Patrick Fitzgerald, reading 'Nebraska', all brilliant stories.

The evening went really very well and despite nerves and sweaty palms, I think overall I did a good job on the reading, at least my fans (slightly bias ones), all said so.

Jack Harte, the chairman of the Writers Centre gave everyone a lovely introduction, and his kind words about my story 'Hello' were as follows:

'This story visits an all-too-familiar tragedy of the Ireland of not-so-long-ago. The savagery of a society dominated by a callous theocracy has been well exposed by now. But this story does not engage in polemics or even righteous indignation. It quietly enters the world of the protagonist and illuminates the tragedy from within. It is all the more powerful for that, leaving the reader to share and enjoy the possibility of hope that emerges from the situation.'

All in all, it was a great evening, and one that I will remember for a very long time to come, so thanks to everyone that got there on the night, and thanks to Claire from the Irish Writers Centre who pampered us and made us all feel very special.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Book Club Review - The Girls by Lori Lansens

Okay at long last the book club review of above novel.  Apologies for taking so long, but that 10 day gardening holiday has caused a lot of things to fall behind, and if I do catch up any time soon it will be a minor miracle.

But before I get into the reviews, just to say, only half of us managed to read the book, so perhaps something will be lost in the overall scheme of things.  The subject matter of this fictional story being that of twins joined at the head, seemed to cause much reluctance about reading it, and hence a couple of people steered clear.  Others got caught up in life, as is often the case, but those that did read it, managed to cause great entertainment for those that didn't, as the views were quite diverse as you will see below.

I was irritated slightly by the voice at the start - Rose's obsession with what qualifies as writerly or not etc Also felt the book was trying hard to do more than just be about the girls in their identity as craniophagus twins, ie with all the European references re their adoptive parents... felt this was all very interesting, but not really part of their story for me, but that maybe the writer didn't have enough depth in her own primary characters that she had to flesh out their adoptive parent's story so much.  Having said that where it's relevant - the interactions with adoptive parents is well done.
I hated the thing about the pregnant teen writing loads of poems, just because pregnancy did the opposite for me, but maybe it always just makes a person do weird things.

A beautiful story where the extraordinary is made ordinary. I loved this book, a story about Rose and Ruby, conjoined twins, sisters who are joined at the head. It sounds a bit outlandish, a little voyeuristic and potentially icky - but it is in fact a simple tale. Written as if it is an autobiography, the girls are close to their thirtieth birthday. Rose, the principle protagonist is a writer. She is keen to record her life story. Ruby is less interested, but reluctantly contributes chapters. Gradually it becomes clear why Rose is so keen to put their life down on paper. I loved the small town, the adoptive parents with their own 'outsider' life stories, the storm on the night the twins were born, the attempt by the twins to lead an ordinary life, one which they would have taken for granted if nature hadn't taken them down a more difficult path. An unforgettable read.

I was initially apprehensive about this choice of book, but soon realised that more than anything, it was a story of love and sometimes rivalry and sometimes misunderstandings between two sisters.  There was a lot in the novel that I could have skipped over prose wise, and I also thought that in this case, jumping backwards and forwards in time, and from two different points of view caused the writer logistical problems, as there were a number of errors within it.  Overall though I was glad I read this book, as once I got into it, I enjoyed the narrative voice, and I did feel that sense you get from a good read, that you have somehow entered another world, and one that was worth being part of.  So for me, The Girls got the thumbs up!

Without the ploy of the girls physical condition, this is just a story about two sisters - and not a very good one at that. Readers can expect to twitch a smile at the humorous parts, skip over the grisly details and fall asleep on and off for the rest of the tedium in between.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Magpie Tales - Emma Barker

Okay, holiday over, my break from blogging offically ended as normality is back, and with it my temptation to look at the Magpie prompt this week in that mindset of I'll just have a quick look, and then before I knew it, I was typing on the keyboard not sure where the story was going, but I kept on going anyway.
So thanks again to Tess @ Magpie Tales for another great image prompt below.  For other tempted parties check out the great tales HERE

They say there was always something odd about her, being distant in the kind of way that made people suspicious.  She was a stranger to their ways alright, not being born in the land she came to live in, but there was more to it than that, a lot more.
She arrived at seventeen, the young bride of a local boy.  A boy she thought was a man, and whom she fell for in that way of young girls.  More fantasy than real love, but it was the closest Emma Barker had ever come to it, so you could easily forgive her for that mistake.  Not long after marriage, she was with child.  A buxom boy that many thought would ease whatever inward struggle seemed to haunt the girl, a struggle etched across her face as sure as day became night.

It wasn’t that she wanted to keep herself a stranger, but no matter how she thought about it, she never did fit in.  She wasn’t interested in the things that other women from the town were interested in, nor did she, after the first pangs of love or lust eased, feel any real interest in the man she married.
For his part, he had made a similar mistake to her, he had thought her to be someone else as well.  So as each year passed, and seasons changed, and her strangest was taken for stubborn awkwardness, or even worse confused with looking down on folk, in the end, she was ignored in the minds of others, someone who at best was considered odd, or at worst, mad.
The truth was she had been a happy child, but things changed, and reality wasn't always kind.  She buried her head in books, the type that brought her to places she could never dream of being.  The first book she read was given to her by an old aunt, a book of poetry that she read and reread.  It became like evening prayer, or the old blanket that her son found safety in.
The day they found her dead, there had been a storm brewing, the kind of storm that seemed like the end of life, and so it was for Emma Barker, hung from a tree shortly after her son was old enough to leave home, her goodbye letter between the pages of an old poetry book.

John Connolly, Alex Barclay & Kevin Barry @ the Irish Writers Centre

As part of the Peregrine reading at the Irish Writers Centre, this evening @ 7.30 3rd May, there will be prose readings from the wonderful John Connolly, Alex Barclay and Kevin Barry.   You need to contact the centre to book a place, but it should be a fantastic evening. Link to Irish Writers Centre HERE

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