Friday, September 30, 2011

Thought for the Weekend - Dr Seuss

My thanks to Brendan Dunne (Twitter@BrendanD100) for this week's Thought for the Weekend on 120 Socks official 1st Birthday.

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

- Dr Seuss -

I was delighted when Brendan suggested this quote for this weekend, as I vividly the Dr Seuss books when my children were younger.  My eldest daughter was dyslexic, so we had lots of Dr Seuss books and her favourite was the Cat in the Hat - I bet she can still say the whole book by heart.  Below is the part that no doubt still floats into my dreams, I heard and read it so many times!  If you have your own Dr Seuss memories, let me know, if YOU can get the comment box to work (blogger messing things up lately).

"too wet to go out,
 and too cold to play ball,
they just sat in the house,
 and did nothing at all,
and all they could do
 was to sit, sit, sit,
and they did not like it,
not one little bit..."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nothing like a bit of Reading

Apart from our short walking holiday at the beginning of September, this month has been a bit of a disaster.  Being unwell has not helped, and in a way I look forward to welcoming a new month a bit like welcoming a new year, as if it might be full of great and wonderful possibilities.  You will all be pleased to know, that I'm on the mend, and my daughter is getting there too.  Plenty of bed rest and pill popping, with some TLC fired in for good measure - although I notice now that I'm up and about, the mere fact that I'm going around on two legs somehow means in the eyes of other members of the family, that things are back to normal!

Anyhow, we're getting there, and deffo by next Monday, which is the reason for this blog post, I will be fully recovered.

The Country Library, Tallaght, are currently presenting a six part series of conversations & readings by local and visiting poets, and prose writers.

The series has been developed and facilitated by Award Winning local Author and Poet, Eileen Casey.

This Monday the 3rd October - Yours truly will be reading as part of this series, along with two terrific writers, Colm Keegan and Brian Kirk (bios below).  I am really looking forward to the readings, as we each have very distinctive styles.  I met both of these guys a few years back when we were part of a workshop given by Dermot Bolger, then writer in residence for SDCC, and apart from having a huge admiration for their work, I also think, they are two great blokes.

I know Tallaght might be a little far for some of you, but I hope you can make it, as it should be a wonderful evening.  Readings begin at 7.p.m. 

I won't bore you with my pic and bio, but here are the two lads.

   Brian Kirk has been shortlisted for various awards including Hennessy Awards in 2008 and 2011.  His stories and poems have appeared in The Sunday Tribune, The Stony Thursday Book, Crannog, Revival, Boyne Berries, Wordlegs and various anthologies. 

Colm Keegan writes poetry, short stories and screenplays.  He also runs Nighthawks, Dublin’s premier arts night, and was part of 'Three Men Talking About Things That They Kinda Know About' in this year's Dublin Fringe Festival .  Shortlisted for three Hennessy Awards for both fiction and poetry.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Savage Chicken & The Fall of 120 Socks!

Now I made a promise a little while back, and I am someone who usually keeps their promises.  The promise was that I would post a Savage Chicken cartoon on the 23rd of each month.  Sadly the 23rd came and went, and no such post materialised - the reason why not you might ask?  Well I'll tell you!  But before I do, I'll just slot in this classic Savage Chicken to get the juices going so to speak.

Okay, I'll make this short and sweet as 120 Socks is not feeling the best right now.  You all know, or rather those of you who follow this blog on a regular basis know, that for the last three weeks these socks have been a little under the weather, and may I add your support through this time of unwellness has been much appreciated!

Anyhow, near the end of last week, I thought the second antibiotic was doing its job, I wasn't fully better, but I had left the bedroom and started to pick up stuff, you know what I mean, twenty ton of dog hair from lack of hovering, dirty dishes, mainly glasses spread around the house, mail which no one else opened because they were only bills, the usual stuff.  So on Thursday when my daughter started to feel sick, an appointment for the GP was made instantaneously, because that is how it is done when it comes to your offspring.  Friday morning we drove to the GP, and her tummy was unwell as she is not a good traveller, so you get the picture.  On arrival I let the receptionist know we'd arrived, and that my daughter might need a utensil, after which we were ushered with said utensil into the nurses station off the main waiting area.

Pretty quick the doctor came in to see her, and I should have registered that something was not quite right when one side of my brain was asking the other side of my brain, was this woman the doctor, or just some random female who wanted to join us in the area!  So there I was filling the GP in on my daughters symptoms, you know usual Mother stuff, when my head went all woozy - first thought - sort yourself out Louise, you are not the sick one.  Just as I'm giving myself this lecture, both right and left sides of my brain decided to take over, and 120 Socks collapsed on the floor.  First thought when I came to - this is stupid, I shouldn't be on the floor, which is a logical enough thought, but also rather stupid, as there had to be a reason for me being down there.

Okay, imagine the scene, near vomiting daughter, collapsed Mother, GP doing blood pressure tests, taking bloods for labs while ringing out to the main surgery, doing notes on PC of both Mother and daughter, asking daughter does your Mother have any health issues - to which the reply came 'none that I know of'.

Apparently, twenty minutes after fainting, you should return to normal, but 20 minutes after fainting, and now lying on the bed in the surgery, even though I wanted to say I was normal, or as near to normal as I can ever hope to be, I couldn't say it - the head was still dodgy, the knees were like jelly, and I hadn't got a good feeling about the whole thing.  At this point daughter is giving Mr Socks a running commentary from her mobile phone, as she is doubled in two, and not with laughter.  GP mentioned the word 'ambulance' and I immediately told her to tell her Dad to hurry the hell up.  Well I didn't use the word 'hell', because the doctor was there, but there was something in the tone that seemed to make its way down the phone line because my hero soon arrived.

Long story short, my viral infection had led to a chest infection, which had led to the lowering of my oxygen levels, so I had developed an inclination to collapse on floors.  36 hours in hospital, and an injection to thin out my blood so the oxygen could flow a little easier, and I was sent home on the strict instruction to have complete rest for a week, and yes you guessed it, more anti-biotics.

All in all we were really lucky, because it could have happened at any time, like when we were driving home for example - so pretty cool that I happened to manage it with a full medical team on hand.

So please forgive me for not posting Savage Chicken on the 23rd, as I was otherwise engaged! Now this longer than anticipated short post has worn me out, back to my position in front of the telly, while my hero puts on the dinner:)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Pink Cage on Tour

Today is Day 3 of The Pink Cage blog tour with writer and journalist Derbhile Dromey, and I'm particularly delighted to be part of it.

The original plan was to do a review alongside an interview with Derbhile, but due to my coughing illness, (and a desire not to spread germs to talented writers) the interview will happen later - which is all good because now I get the chance to talk in depth about the novel, with the added joy/interest that early next week, myself and Derbhile can chat.

Firstly let me just say, I met Derbhile via Twitter @ThePinkCage - I found her witty, interesting, and deffo someone whom I'm glad I followed.  Because I knew little of Derbhile before this blog tour, and I had not yet read her novel The Pink Cage, I was somewhat apprehensive about reviewing it.  What if I hated it?  What if I had to say things like - I really liked that the paper used was recycled, that for every tree felled, another tree was planted - or that I loved the cover because the beach does it for me, or pink is my favourite colour - I had plenty in reserve I guess, should the quality of writing not be as one might like.  Thankfully, even though I do appreciate that the paper used was recycled, and I am not adverse to beaches, or pink in the correct quantities, I don't have to reach for any of these references when reviewing this novel.

The narrative voice in The Pink Cage, is that of Astrid, a visually impaired freelance proof-reader and DJ who is persuaded to go on a skiing trip - definitely not your usual tag line.  I will be totally upfront here and say, I wasn't a lover of the opening pages, and initially felt like I was being transported into a world which I really didn't want to be in - honest reaction, I felt somewhat unsettled.  That being said, in hindsight perhaps this was a good thing, for the more I got to understand Astrid, the more I came to appreciate the constant struggle of balancing things physically and emotionally in a world not designed for her purpose. 

There were some descriptive passages which at first I was unsure of, but soon realised were part of the writer bringing me into the life of, yes you guessed it, someone with visual difficulties - a constant obsession with detail being a necessary tool in the illustration of how one might access a world where the slightest variance can create challenges - thus giving the reader the opportunity to be exposed in a way which otherwise they might not.

In what I had read about The Pink Cage, it seemed some found the character of Astrid unlikeable at first - that wasn't the case with me.  Maybe, I just got her hurt pretty early on, and found the desire to put a protection around herself, even to the point of alienating others, perfectly understandable, or maybe the writer just brought me to the core of her humanity rather quickly, particularly when her younger years were allowed breathe through the pages, and the smaller, trusting, loving Astrid, made sense of an at times, senseless world.

The story unfolds via present day reflections and flashbacks to childhood/teenage years.  All the time you are getting to know Astrid and the world she lives in by circumstances/characters which have shaped her life.  As a reader you can't help but relate to the younger Astrid, and wonder about the A-B of her journey to the present day.  Bottom line, I cared about her, and this is something which is only achieved in great writing.  For me Astrid was real.  Nor might I add, is it easy to write from a child's perspective, and the narrative voice in this work, does it brilliantly, unravelling in a non- pretentious, heartbreaking, humorous, real way, what it feels like to live in the exciting, scary, loving, lost, changing world of growing up, whilst seeing the world differently to many.

I particularly like books/writers which look at people in the margins, for often when you leave the stereotypical norms, a world, one which you might not have known, or appreciated appears, and this is after all what a great book is supposed to do, bring you somewhere new, change even a little about how you look on the world, question, revisit, reflect.

Another line associated with 'The Pink Cage' is the following: - "a novel about a love that's not quite forbidden."  Now I don't want to give too much away here, but love, confused, messy love, and sexuality form an important part of this work.  Astrid uses her sexuality as a type of front, the sexier the clothes, the flashier the shades, the shorter the skirt, the look at me mentality, I might be visually impaired but I am hot, sort of thing, is there from the opening pages, and right through.

What I liked about this angle, was how it exposed the way many of us use our sexuality as a protection, a front - I know certainly when I think of my early teens, or see young girls parading in clothes or lack of them, I just think, shit - for the most part they have no idea what they are dealing with.  Sexuality within teenage years and beyond is a complicated cauldron, and one which Derbhile Dromey does not shirk from, and I admire her for this.  And just like writing from a child perspective, writing about sex is not an easy thing to do well, but in this novel, the rawness, confusion, satisfaction, betrayal, often brutal elements are dealt with without the usual spoonful of sloppiness.

Another aspect of a good read, is when the more you read a book, the more you want to read it - I call it the 'curl up on the couch in front of the fire syndrome', and I certainly got that within these pages.  Derbhile joked about the novel getting me through my women flu, and it did - only regret being I didn't have more of it to last me through the entire illness.

Is there great writing in this book?  Yes.

Will you feel differently after reading it?  Yes.

Was it a story told well?  Yes.

Will it go on the Good Book shelf?  Definitely.

All great answers you will agree, but all the more surprising when you realise that this novel got 27 rejections from mainstream publishing houses - only to be picked up thankfully in the end by Book Republic - a boutique publishing house.

The Pink Cage, does not slot easily into what is believed to be popular fiction, and just to add in here, I am quite fond of popular fiction, because after all, it is popular - but books like this need to be published - Why?

So you and I can read them.  Reading this novel reminded me of something from years back.  I remember the first day I got my adult library ticket, as a young teenager, I spent the following year searching the shelves for many different books to read, and every now and then I fell upon a gem, one which changed me. The Pink Cage, I am happy to say is one of these.

The Pink Cage is available from the following:-

Amazon Paperback Version: http://amzn.to/qlX37Z

Amazon Kindle Edition: http://amzn.to/qrEDYL

The Book Depository: http://bit.ly/oKhh32

You will find Derbhile @ WriteWords Editorial 
& Twitter @The Pink Cage

Blog tour DAY 1 can be found HERE, & Day 2 HERE

DAY 4 on Derbhile’s blog tour will be the 22nd September with
 Michelle Moloney @ http://teachermoloneyking.com/

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How Times Have Changed - Beautiful Girls

All regular followers of this blog will know that I don't normally do political, apart from the odd observation about our society in general.  Usually, this gets it's closest scrutiny when we look back at the old vintage ads, and today is no exception.

Like many Irish people, I was glued to my seat/couch last night watching TV3's concluding episode about The Rise and Fall of Fianna Fail - and it was high drama indeed.  But, I am not going to get into the in's and out's at 120 Socks - I think as an Irish nation we are still trying to comes to terms with what exactly happened, what went wrong, and how we ended up here in this awful state. 

Myself and Mr 120 Socks run our own business, we have been through the ropes before, we have found times difficult, even in the so called 'good times'.  We have been the unprotected, so for the most part, I hope we get it when it comes to how people are hurting - it is not a nice place.

So taking the above into consideration, viewing the programme last night, even with a temperature/chest infection and virus, I was still shocked, and shocked in a way that goes beyond shocked, more like stunned.  I could do a series of blog posts on all the points that got me going, but here is not the platform for that.  However, last night as I listened to John O'Donoghue, and his quote about the beautiful girl in Killarney for some reason it shot home in that crazy, bizarre, is he serious?, holy cow, what rubbish, what so called sincerity, what utter belief in self righteous nonsense, coming out of a politician's mouth -in a OMG way.

For those of you who missed the programme, his story went something like this.  At some time during the meltdown, he was in Killarney, and this beautiful girl got out of an SUV.  She walked over to O'Donoghue and proceeded to tell him exactly what she thought of him, and all that had happened.  A voice of the public you might think, but alas no - according to O Donoghue, after the conversation he wondered, what is the point of having so much beauty on the outside, when there was so much ugliness on the inside.  I was stunned, as I would imagine so were many other viewers.

So have times really changed?  Mr O Donoghue would no doubt appreciate this Palmolive Ad from the 1920's - where beauty wins out over brains.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Psychology Behind 120 Socks!

Perhaps coming close to the 1st birthday of 120Socks, it's a good time for reflection.  I never thought near on 11 months ago that this blogging lark would turn out to be so much fun.   I had no idea starting out, what direction I wanted this blog to go in, but somehow it has stumbled its way to being what it is - although the exact answer to this question has still not been fully answered. 

They say one of the things you need to succeed in any given area in life, is an ability to change, evolve, adopt new ways of looking at STUFF.  So with this in mind, it was indeed timely that fellow expert www.theboreen.com contacting me in relation to doing a study on the 'Psychology of Socks'.  Afterall, we all have them, some of us, including my son, have a lifelong quest never to wear two matching socks at the same time (a quest which could revolutionise sock manufacture/sales in the years and decades to come).  Others like myself, tend to hold onto them FOREVER, even when holes appear, or their once sky blues or pretty pinks, fade, never to be the same again. Socks are of course a must for Christmas stockings as fillers, a sock in a stocking being very appropriate, or that extra thought to go with the birthday present for 'people who are impossible to buy for' - afterall, everyone needs a sock, often needing more than one.

With all of the above in mind, it is fair and reasonable for most people to end their thinking there - but this is where the blog and twitter has expanded my horizons - so it is with great pleasure today that I hand you over to eminent Sockologist Professor Deborah Mc Menamy who operates from the www.theboreen.com , but also has set up an exciting new writing competition at www.LabelloPress.com

I will be forever grateful to Deborah for her months of research and analysis which you will find HERE 

Do you wear matching socks?
Do you wear socks?
Do you keep your socks forever?
Do your socks come out of the washing machine inside out?
Are stripes, kittens, circles your favourites?
How many do you have? 
Do you care?
Have yours like mine turned blue lately?
Do you have a drawer for socks which don't match? (I have)
Do you know where all the missing socks go?
Do you have a question which I didn't ask?
Even better, do you know any of the answers?

Please help us in our research, your answers could move the 'Understanding of Socks' to a whole new level.

(Disclaimer: Any nonsense included in this post is purely the result of precribed drugs which are currently fighting the virus attacking 120Socks.)  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Pied Piper - Magpie Prompt Week 83

The Snake Charmer - Henri Rousseau 1907

This week's Magpie prompt from Tess Kincaid is the image of The Snake Charmer above, and it certainly is an interesting one, so I'm really looking forward to reading other contributors HERE . 

My contribution this week is a poem called 'The Pied Piper'.

The Pied Piper

He met love one day on a bus going into town,
then later on a pair of legs ‘gorgeous they were’.
He flirted with it in a story masked by an unusual blond,
while lamenting it’s loss in his babysitter’s kiss.

Something in my voice he said dragged him in,
witch-crafted words laced in lovingness,
him watching over with eyes of one possessed,
confessing secrets in waves of tenderness.

Like the perfume maker he sought obsessed,
himself lost within the lost things,
deftly playing the pied piper’s tune,
chasing love’s lost dream in raw recklessness.

He told me once that he did care,
that dreams were things worth risking for,
that daring held some sweet gift of pride,
and fragmented pieces hover teasing to explore.

But my favourite song he did not know,
was all about the broken things,
was it within broken things that we belonged,
shattered pieces doomed to fall.

For he must have known only madness loomed,
that what he sought could not rest here,
that here was where it all must end,
buried deep, like all would-be lover’s cruel recall.

Friday, September 16, 2011

120 Socks Wilderness Adventure!

Gosh it seems like so long ago now, but our trip into the wilderness was only last week.  We had a great break, lots of fresh air, mountain and forest walks and we found a beautiful place to stay in the Glen of Aherlow, Co Tipperary.  It is truly a most wondrous part of Ireland, and one which I am really glad I visited.  I had hoped to do a long post covering our adventures, including some interesting people we met along the way, fab shopkeepers, and potters, and general great characters, but alas for now, I will just give you the pics taken during our forest walks, and a short myth (love these old stories) about Lake Muskry.

But before I give you the photos, just to say there are numerous forest walks you can take when visiting the area, all well signposted with length, incline, time required etc.  Mr Socks has always been a man in a hurry, so we tended to do 1hr walks in half an hour, and 4 hour walks in 2hrs - but sure what can you do.  I did give him the lecture about how it doesn't matter how long it takes, it's how you travel the path, which I repeated every time I stopped to take a photo, but we still managed to travel them far too fast in my opinion. 

The last walk to Lake Muskry was difficult enough, reaching 1,614 feet above sea level, and a pretty dodgy pathway with stones more like boulders than anything else,  but sure you can see the pics below (including Mr Socks miles into the distance).

Here's hoping my virus/cold will soon be no more, and I can get back to normality, but in the meantime, pictures are always good to look at!

Legend about Lake Muskry
Lake Muskry was formerly known as Lough Beal Sead (lake of the jewel mouth).  The legend tells that the lake was once the home of beautiful maidens who every second year were metamorphosised into birds, one becoming the most beautiful in the world.  To mark her pre-eminence she was allowed to wear a golden necklace which had a sparkling Jewel set in it, hence the name Lough Beal Sead.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When You Were Small - Hospital Memories

Okay yes I know I said the next post in this series would be all about first holidays, not hospitals.  But I am sick right now, an awful annoying head cold/flu which has been gifted to me by Mr Socks, who coughed and barked and blew all the way to sharing it.  So being sick, I don't really want to think about first holidays, being sick I want to feel sorry for myself, so being sick, I got to thinking about hospitals. 

Now again I know, most normal people when they think about hospitals have sad memories, and yes, I also know I am lucky not to have these, never having to be in hospital until the delivery of my first daughter.  That being said though, I have a couple of very distinctive memories about hospitals from when I was small.  The first one is around my Mam's stay in one, and my Dad getting us fish and chips from the chipper every single night.  It is a pretty distinctive memory, but alas not the one which I am going to share with you here.  The memory I am going to share with you, is all about jealousy!

Not 120 Socks I hear you say - but alas every now and then even I have bad thoughts, and on this occasion, the bad thoughts were all about my big sister.  You see, when she was younger, about 10 I think, she had to go into hospital to get her appendix out.  I am sure she did suffer, even marginally with this illness, but I don't remember any of that.  What I remember are the presents - the colouring books and crayons, the large bottles of Lucozade, the puzzles, the sucky sweets with flavours of blackcurrant, strawberry, lemon, orange, lime, you name it, she got it.  Every day for what seemed like an eternity, more prizes were brought up to her. 

What did I get?  Not a dot, not a sweet, not a sip from the large bottles which went up daily, I got nothing, a big fat nothing, and as you can imagine this had a devastating effect on me.  I started dreaming about going into hospital, being knocked down by a car and everyone around the bed crying over me, pouring lovely drinks down by throat, willing me to sit up so I could draw them a beautiful picture - my sister at home bored, sweetless, drinkless, presentless - the list was endless!

Looking back, I'm wondering if I had been given even one sweet from the packet/packets which went into her hospital locker, anything by way of compensation for being the well one, would the memory have stayed so vivid?  To me being in hospital foolishly seemed like the best place ever, probably cause as a child I never got there.

Like most things in life, it is all about which viewpoint to look at any given situation.  Years later, my son went into hospital as he was having problems walking.  Thankfully, it turned out to be a temporary issue with limb development, but I remember being so worried, and him being so delighted that he had to go everywhere for about 3 days in a wheelchair, his sisters pushing him up and down the hospital corridors, all of them laughing, having fun. And yes, he did get colouring books, and drinks and sweets, and cards, and thankfully, he also got better. So we all got really lucky, and I will always be grateful.

I know there are sad memories out there, and I know mine is a silly one, but if you do have a childhood hospital memory which you would like to share, well you know what to do.  In the meantime, I will go back to nursing my head cold - cause being sick is no fun at all!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About

Okay don't go telling me I didn't warn you!  This show is booking up fast, a couple of nights have already sold out, so go get your tickets or you'll end up missing a great gig!

Link to booking HERE

From September 19th to September 24th upstairs in The International Bar, three of Ireland’s leading male performance poets, Colm Keegan, Kalle Ryan and Stephen James Smith, will join together for a unique spoken word show about what it means to be a man.

Three different stories by three different men connected by the same human experiences of love, loss and redemption. Through poetry delivered in their own inimitable styles, all three men will take you on their deeply personal interconnected journeys about the universal truths that shape us all.

Some might say three men talking about their feelings is a big story in itself, but the fact that three of Dublin’s most well-known performance poets are joining forces for a one-off show together should make anyone with an interest in the spoken word take note. The show is directed by Sarah Brennan who brings an experienced theatrical vision and adds a clear female perspective to these poetic male stories.

The Dublin spoken word scene has grown and developed spectacularly in the past few years and it is no coincidence that Colm Keegan, Kalle Ryan and Stephen James Smith are at the heart of that movement. As organisers of Nighthawks, The Brownbread Mixtape and The Glor Sessions respectively, they form an informal collective of arts nights in the city that support and promote spoken word performance. They see this show as the next step in the evolution of that buzzing scene, as they join forces and create a new format and platform for their brand of performance poetry to be heard.

Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About is part of ABSOLUT Fringe, which runs from September 10 – 25, 2011.  Book online at www.fringefest.com or call 1850 FRINGE (1850 374 643).

Novel Update!

Now in case of few of you might be wondering what's happening with my novel, here is the general update.

Firstly, just to say there are 3 main characters in the novel, 2 of which I seem to have pretty well nailed, in the, yes they are brilliant characters type of thing.  One however was lacking something, I had my suspicions about her, and these were confirmed when I tested the opening chapters on a trusted expert. 

So, I set about rediscovering this character, and it has taken me a while to get to the bottom of her, 8 weeks to be exact.  I wrote and wrote, and rewrote, and sat up in bed in the middle of the night writing things about her, scrawling bits on bus tickets, you know the type of thing, until finally, somehow, miraculously she was there on the page/pages.  But the trouble was, I spent so long rewriting her, rereading her, and at times feeling jailed in the pages with her, that I could not recognise if at long last she was real, well not really real, but you know what I mean.

Now, this is where having friends who are fellow struggling writers comes in very handy.  I went off a couple of weeks back for a gathering of the clan, four of us who had just completed a workshop with Conor Kostick at the Irish Writers Centre.  Having emailed the first 3 chapters off to my chosen victims, we set about reviewing everyone's work, and me, being me, avoided my own moment of truth, leaving my chapters to the very end.  Thankfully, the chapters got the thumbs up, so I was delighted - I think if they had not, I would have really worried about ever getting to the bottom of this fictional being.  The group also gave me a couple of small suggestions, which were great.  In fact this topic came up at the RTE Guide/Penguin workshop on Friday by Sinead Moriarty, who said she really appreciated the support her writing group has given her over the years.  Sometimes, having an outsider look at your work, is exactly what you need.  They see things that you can miss. So, some small rewrites and chapters 1-3 will be ready for flight. 

Secondly, it was also suggested by my trusted expert, that instead of just putting in a few lines about myself in the pitch letter, I should do a separate author bio.  At first I wasn't too sure on this, but nevertheless, I gave it a go, and it actually turned out very well.  Another job done, as it too is now ready for the off.

Okay, I have pitch letter, I have separate author bio, I have chapters 1-3 with just some small modifications, which leaves only one thing, the synopsis.  Now I did do a synopsis already, a lovely one page one, and it was harder to do than I thought, but I got there in the end, or at least what I thought was the end.  Here's the thing, apparently because mine is a crime novel, an expansion of this is now required, a longer synopsis, 2-3 pages, within which all relevant plot twists are revealed.  I dread doing this because I know how difficult the first one was for me, but thankfully I have a plan - and here it is. 

This week I'm going to do a complete reread through the novel, writing 2 lines about each chapter.  Then I am going to review all 120 sentences (60 chapters by 2), and I am going to do an overview with all the relevant twists and turns.  I figure this will give me two things.  One, it will be a very good springboard for a comprehensive 2-3 page synopsis, and secondly, I hope the overview might trigger a couple of plot twists/questions which will improve the structure.  Jean Kwok, also spoke at the Penguin workshop on Friday and she gave a very good suggestion on novel writing, she said never answer one question for the reader unless you have put in at least another couple of unanswered questions.  I thought it was brilliant, and I am hoping I have already achieved this, but if I haven't, by the time I get to the end of this week, I will have!

Right, so no television for me this week, I have a novel to read, fingers crossed it's a cracker! I will fill you all in next Monday, that is a promise:)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Looking back at the Children - Small Lives

I feel very lucky at times living in Dublin.  There are so many wonderful events happening here, one of which at the moment is the photographic exhibition showing at the National Photographic Archives in Temple Bar.

'Small Lives' is an exhibition of photographs drawn from the NLI’s collections, and range from formal studio portraits featuring children of the landed classes of the 1880s, to more candid shots of city kids taken in the 1960s.

After the Penguin Ireland workshop yesterday, myself and Niamh Boyce of Words A Day, called in for a look, and we were not disappointed.  Each of the photographs told a story, not just individually, but also as a reflection of their time and social backdrop.

It is easy to forget in these days of digital photography, that in the 1880's things were very different.  The studio shots for example required the subjects, (in these cases children) to remain absolutely still, the slightest movement causing a blurring of the image. 

Another aspect, is how few of them smiled, white teeth not being an aspect of the 1880's.  Photographs were not daily affairs are they are today, so great effort was put into getting them just right, the studio shots being reflective of the very elaborate attention given to creating a window into their past. 

This image, believe it or not is of a brother and sister, the girl given a doll to hold, the blond boy given a toy animal.

There are some amazing photographs at the exhibition, the one of the girls below although slightly damaged was one of my favourites, as it captures the friendship, excitement, and risk taking of the two girls seemingly daring each other to go further into the waves

The next image shows Violet Poole and her brother helping their father with some experimental photography.

All in all, it is an amazing exhibition, so get yourself in there and enjoy!

'Small Lives' runs from 25th August 2011 until June 2012.

Check out opening times, directions etc HERE

What do you think of this new look?

Well not quite changing your life, but what do you all think about  the new look?

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Wonderful World of Socks

I'm back from the wilderness, and what a wild time I've had.  There are just so many things to catch up on, I'm not sure where to start, except that 'thank you' is often a pretty good place, especially when it is deserved.  

So, number one, a big thank you for visiting 120 Socks blog 6,584 times last month, and another really big thank you for visiting it 1,512 times this week, even though I've been away and therefore not blogging, which gets me to wondering whether these old socks could carry on without me! 

Secondly, I had a fab day today at the RTEguide/Penguin workshop courtesy of getting on the long list for the competition, and I was amazed to hear that 4,000 people submitted work, 500 of whom visited here to find out details about the competition! But more about that on a separate post.

Our short holiday break into the wilderness went really well, so I'll be doing a post on this over the next few days, lots of pics and stories which I hope you will enjoy.

This month's book club choice is 'Before I Go To Sleep'. I read it while I was away,(staying up until 4.30 in the morning to finish it) so dying to hear what you all think.  Reviews will be posted at the end of the month, so contact me either here or on twitter if you want your review included.

Later in the month, I will be doing an interview with the fantastic Derbhile Dromey, and reviewing her new book, 'The Pink Cage', so watch out for that!

Anyone missing the 'When you were small' series will be pleased to know that a new post will go up this Monday based on your first holidays, so get your thinking hats on!

I've also learned a couple of neat things about Twitter, which I'll share this month.

Other than the above, I hope to do a guest post with the wonderful Moloney King, give you some details on a series of library readings which I'm delighted to be part of, put up some more crazy vintage ads (cause you love to hate them!), and share details of a great photographic exhibition!

Finally, I'm nearly there in relation to getting my novel submission package completed, so I'll fill you in on all the ups, downs, in between, etc over the coming few weeks.

I've missed you all over the last few days,and I'm deffo not addicted to Twitter or Blogging, honestly, and that lunatic hanging out the hotel window trying to get a signal, it wasn't me!

So, a little late, but nevertheless important - This week's 'Thought for the Weekend' is one I noticed on a tweet from @MoloneyKing and it's from the wonderful Enda O Brien. The picture below is from the wilderness hols and there are plenty more of them to come!

"When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious."

- Enda O Brien -

Monday, September 5, 2011

Into the Wilderness

Heading off into the wilderness for the next 4 days - apparently because the spot we're going to is surrounded by trees, it is near impossible to get an Internet signal.  It sure will test my blogger/twitter addiction, and maybe, or even quite probably, it will be the best thing ever!  Anyhow, while I'm away, feel free to visit some older postings as 120 socks might get a little lonely in my absence. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

How Times Have Changed - Utterly Bizarre!

Some of these old vintage advertisements can make you mad, or laugh, or just darn well become speechless, but this one is utterly Bizarre - my advice ladies, is never mind DAVE stick with SOAP!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thought for the Weekend - Pearl Bailey

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Labello Press - First Annual Short Story Competition

I love beginnings, especially the beginning of something exciting and different, which is exactly the sense I got from this New Short Story Competition just announced by Labello Press - Independent Publisher of Short Fiction.

A few weeks back via Twitter I stumbled onto a website called  The Boreen which featured some of Deborah Mc Menamy's work, and I instantantly liked what I saw.  You can check out Deborah's Author Bio HERE

As you will see from the Bio, Deborah has had an interesting life, and sounds like just the lady to launch this new publishing venture. 

Deborah has a love for the printed word, which in part is why she's embarking on the publication of "Gem Street", an anthology of short stories chosen via this competition. 

The launch is also a tribute to her late father, whom you can read more about HERE along with other details of awards/prizes.

Submission Guidelines are as follows:

1.   Maximum word count 12,000 words.

2.   The theme is open, but for now, Children's, Horror, Science Fiction or poetry will not be accepted.

3.   It is an INTERNATIONAL competition, so entries are accepted from any part of the world, but must be written in English.

4.  There is a nominal fee of €10 per entry.

5.  Entries should be double spaced, using Times New Roman, 12pt.

6.  Simultaneous submissions are not accepted, and you are requested to advise immediately if your story is accepted elsewhere.


The Competition will run from the 30th August - 31st December 2011.
Long listing will be announced in early January 2012, with the short list at the end of that month.
Final results - 29th February 2012

This is a great opportunity for your story to be published in print, and it is wonderful to be part of something from the very beginning, as I have no doubt that Labello Press will become a powerful source for writers in the future. See Press Release below:

"In conjunction with the launch of Labello Press, a small independent publisher in County Tipperary, we are pleased to announce our first International Short Fiction Competition. In addition to cash prizes, selected stories will be awarded the Leonard A. Koval Memorial Prize and be published in the 2012 Anthology, “Gem Street.”

“Gem Street” is an annual anthology featuring previously unpublished writing and over the coming months we will be working hard to create new opportunities and services for writers."



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