Friday, September 30, 2011

Life on my planet.

Last night I was hosting a dinner party.
Nothing too fancy just my husbands family.

So... to start at the beginning.... way back in the mists of time ie Monday
Hubster got the brain wave of inviting his brother (home from LA for the
50th wedding anniversary of Ma and Pa Hubster) to dinner.
To keep him company he asks Ma and Pa, the other single brother so he won't
feel left out and his sister just to balance the sexes a bit.
Hangs up the phone and his face falls.
'Oh my gosh!' he says (or something very like that) I'm in Dublin all day
Thursday on a course.
'What'll I do?' he asks me.
'Ring back and cancel?' says I helpfully/hopefully.
'Nah. It'll be fine. The course is over at 4pm I'll be home in plenty of
time' says he delighted with himself now that he has organised everything
to happen when he is out of reach and can't be asked to help with the

Then Boychild pipes up 'we are having an open night in school and I am
helping out until 7.30'
There goes any help from him.

Girlchild has a piano lesson but its only 30mins so I figure we can manage
that. And she is game to help with planning the menu and making (and
eating) the desserts.

Then Wednesday night - DISASTER STRIKES - my tooth parts company with my gum. Its a premolar so not very prominent but still causing a serious gap in my smile. Nothing for it but to get a dental appointment as soon as
possible Thursday morning. Phew. Couldn't have people calling to the
house and seeing my pipe smokers gap.

Everyone was asked to arrive at 8pm.
At a quarter to eight my mobile rang - it was the Hubster 'my car has
broken down. What will I do?' GIANT PAUSE from me.
He was a good hour away.
I was tempted to tell him - stick out your thumb and hitch, but it was dark
and wet and I was sure he would be knocked down and killed and I would
spend the rest of my life grieving and feeling guilty. So instead I did the
supportive wife thing asked him about the car - where was it? what was its
symptoms? and almost instantly 'we' detected the problem -
Petrol! in a diesel engine that is.
On his journey home he filled up with the wrong fuel and a few miles from the
filling station the car gave up the struggle and died.
All hail the car the car is dead
Well it did struggle valiantly until he was well beyond walking distance
from the filling station before deciding to die. You've got to admire its
Anyway I managed to get hold of a friend who galloped off to the rescue and
saved the day.

Meanwhile back at the ranch Ma and Pa Hubster arrived bang on time ' your
son is er.... missing.. as in not here yet' I mumbled. But they didn't seem to
mind and weren't a bit surprised Hubster was missing.
They arrived without LA brother who had decided to go to the open night at
boychilds school (being a past pupil he was curious to see the place). He
didn't arrive until 9pm a full hour late.
Sister Hubster arrived at 9.20 but she brought wine so was instantly

I decided we would begin without Hubster (anyone who puts petrol in a
diesel car doesn't deserve waiting for).
Hubster arrived at 9.55. So between the jigs and the reels he wasn't
actually that late. We were only half way through our main course. His
timing was not that off.

But I still think he should be punished. Don't you?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A quick word borrowed from 'terrible minds -Chuck Wendig'

I was reading a post by Chuck Wendig over on terrible minds about self doubt and it rang a bell. Well it made me sit up and pay attention. Its all fantastic but I really liked his last line and I hope it speaks to you too!

'External validation isn’t a bad thing. It just isn’t what you need. Because it matters little that they believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself. Confidence must blossom from within, a corpse-flower redolent with your delightful stink, a stink you find captivating, enlightening, empowering. The confidence you find elsewhere is hollow, a ladder made of brittle twigs. At the end of the day you’ll never be sure if those around you are just wrong — or maybe they’re lying! — or maybe they’re suffering under the depredations of some wretched brain parasite that tricks them into liking mediocre things! — and that just means you’re opening yourself to other forms of doubt.

And doubt needs to go suck a pipe. Doubt needs to take a dirt-nap.

And the way you do that is by finding your own way. By fostering your own confidence.

Because just as doubt is one of the writer’s greatest enemies…'

…confidence is one of the writer’s most powerful friends.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Engage Arts Festival Bandon - Follow-up

Well to the follow up.
I had a great time at the Engage Arts Festival.
The Organisers made such an effort.
And so many things were free (important when you are bring kids along).
All the shops and business's on the main street got involved. Paintings
and sculptures in their windows displacing their own stock.
There was music most of which I missed (sob sob)
And the green village was a huge success again this year.

I went to see Catch the Moon - It was fantastic.
I have to say that again Fantastic!
Four women poets and a harpist in the Methodist Church.
The read pieces on love, exile, autumn and home.
They blew me away.
They are such talented women. (And all such attractive people - Wow how do
they do it?)
I especially loved every poem by Afric McGlinchy.
Tina Pisco's poem on exile had me laughing she has such a witty take on
Jane Clarke read a poem called 'Michael' about her friend. It was just
Kathy D'Arcy is so young and vibrant her poems seem to come from deep
within her.
Each woman is an award winning published poet.
Their words inspired me and made me want to be a better writer.
To be like them.
Taking my art seriously.

Also I want to tell you about Philip O'Ceallaigh. (I am a bit obsessed
aren't I?)
He was doing a reading from his latest collection of short stories 'the
pleasant light of day'.
When he walked into the room (loose-limbed, athletic, comfortable in my own
skin kind of guy) I thought 'he's not half bad'.
If someone is going to read depressing black stories it helps if he is easy
on the eye.
Matthew Geden introduced him quoting a glowing review from Ann Enright.
Which must be true - after all she won the Booker so she must know what she
is talking about.
Then Philip introduced the piece he was going to read 'this is a story
about nothing really' and we all giggled
cause we thought he was messing about - being a bit self effacing.
'there is no sex or jokes in it' he says.
Ah funny guy we all snorted into our hankies
Er No. It really was about nothing- he was having a joke but not the one
we thought.
It was like listening to a child reading out of his diary about an outing
with the scouts.
Detail after detail was given _ every time a new scene was described I was
hoping something would happen
But no. Nothing did. The main character progressed through his day and
into his night and not even his musings were very interesting.
My friend said later a woman could not have gotten published writing
something like that.

So that put me wondering about this man.
Was it because editors and agents had the same response as me 'he's not
half bad' that he could submit any old tosh and call it literature.
Or was it as my sister-in-law suggested 'its over your head, you just don't
understand it'
Is it a case of the Emperors New Clothes?

Can somebody tell me please?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Engage Arts Festival

Bandon is again hosting its Arts festival this weekend - 4 years in a row.
Not Bad.

I had toyed with the idea of going to the Short story workshop with Phillip
O'Ceallaigh (Rooney Prize winner).
Its described as 'explore the different ways a story can be written up,
examine how it finds its form,
how it might be cut,
or how the narrative can be approached from a more fertile angle' and then

I thought to myself this could be really exciting.
Cost of the workshop €30 from 10am to 1pm.
Not so expensive if it delivers on all it promises -

HOWEVER (and this was the first thing that stopped me)
participants in the workshop are expected to bring a copy of
'Sharp sticks, driven nails' edited by POC and 'the pleasant light of day'
POC's last collection of stories.

Hmmmmmm. Nothing wrong with a bit of self promotion but COME ON!
These two books come together for the princely sum of €20.
Total cost of the workshop to me €50.
In other word beyond my price range.

Then I read a review of his last collection of short stories 'notes from a
turkish whore house'.
The reviewer said POC never misses an opportunity to point out the
bleakness of life even in nature the birds in the trees aren't just having
the odd squawk or battle over territory they are raping one another (this
is not the exact quote but you get the drift).

At this point I thought 'Wait a minute, hold the fort, was I going to pay
€50 to be told how bad things are really if only I would open my eyes and
see it?
No way Jose!

Then the fair and reasonable side of my brain got in on the act and said maybe this review you read is written by some sad and mean old hag and you should actually take the time to read some of this man's work yourself. So I did. I read 'My secret War' and its bleak and sparse and scary as a story. As a piece of writing its clear precise talented etc.


I'll go see some of the many other good things on offer this weekend.
And I'll write about them here and see what you think.

But I am disappointed that the workshop didn't work out. Phillip O'Ceallaig is a talented writer No one is arguing that.

I want my writing to help people escape the mundane drabness of reality not highlight it and drive it home with a six inch nail through their heads.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Today is a good day.

Yesterday was not a good day.
I was in a puddle of mud - upset and emotional.
I was confused, angry and lost.
I didn't want to write.
I couldn't write.
It was like having a limb removed.
Hacked off by some manic axe wielding woodsman.
And there was all that mud to drag my weary self through.

Today is a good day.
I feel like writing again.
I feel alive again.
I feel in control again.
What happened in the middle?

Did some handsome stranger ride up on a white stallion and whisk me off?
Did anybody in my small personal community notice and treat me kindly - take some
time out from their busy schedule to spend with me?

Picture this.
I drove to the supermarket to get some food for my empty cupboards.
I sat in the rain looking at the shopping trolleys thinking nothing.
Thinking everything.
While I was sitting there sighing feeling very sorry for myself I noticed a
small yellow book sitting on the dashboard.
The kids had swiped it from some charity donation bin at the local
recycling centre.
(Don't comment on my parenting please)
It was 'The little book of confidence' by Susan Jeffers who also wrote
'Feel the fear and do it anyway'
And each tiny page had words of encouragement and it seemed like she was
speaking to me.
Telling me to pick myself up, dust myself off and 'take back my power'.
Words that I would have been scoffing at 24 hours earlier.
Scoff if you must but I feel better.
Explain that.

So if you are sitting somewhere sighing and feeling sorry for yourself you
know what to do!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge - the numbers game in 100 words.

The numbers game. Bishop, Lollipop, Blister.

'Bishop McAuley was parish priest in Fethard when I was a boy' Malcolm said
concentrating on injecting a tiny drop of fluid into the blister pack of
the strawberry lollipop I was holding for him.

'You knew him quite well then.' I said '

'You could say that'

'What if he shares his lollipops with his latest...........boy?' I

'He never shares and he always has one sticking out his big fat gob.'

I'm going to send him on the trip of a life time.' Finally Malcolm smiled.

Cork International Short Story Festival

For those who are serious about their writing craft:
The Munster Literature Centre is once again running the Frank O'Connor
International Short Story Festival.
It's been renamed the Cork International Short Story Festival.
Any one who is any one in the Cork / Ireland writing scene will be there so
I won't be there.
Not yet. But Soon I will have my day.
(I have to come clean and admit that I am heading to Kerry to cheer on the boys on Sunday against Dublin so I can't be hanging about in Cork)
They are having some very heavy hitters headlining the show.
Colm Tobín (nominated for a Booker prize several times)
Edna O'Brien whose writing was considered radical in the 60's when she
described women's sex lives and the internal workings of their minds.
Some of her books were burned at the time.
Wouldn't you just love that kind of publicity!
It promises to be a very enjoyable event for all.

Check out the festival here
Check out Munster Literature Centre here

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Flash Fiction - The torch - Chuck Wendig Challenge

Here is my entry to the Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge 'The Torch'
I don't usually write about zombies and spy bots but seeing as its my first entry I thought I'd throw in a few to keep Chuck sweet!

Clive, the z's and me

Sweat was flowing down my forehead stinging my eyes and blinding me. The heat from the glow sword was almost unbearable. Clive was twisted in his genius. He gave you a sword samurai sharp to defend yourself but he added to it a fluorescent bar to attract the zombies. In a pitch black arena the light and the fresh smell of blood oozing from the back of my head kept their attention. The wound was throbbing and the sweat was making it sting. It was good though, the pain kept you alert. Clive knew what he was doing the fat bastard.
The Zombie Games, in the Zombatorium, remove the head or destroy the brains.
Me against five. They were closing in on me.
They moved slowly, in a straight line towards me. I was faster and more agile but they were strong, focused and there were five of them. Did I mention that?
The people out there in the blackness were absolutely silent. Z’s are not well trained circus animals; they’ll chase anything with a pulse.
I needed to separate them to have any chance of escape. Escape huh. Nobody’s escaped the Zombatorium yet. Snap! A bright flash momentarily blinded us.
Clive! Photographing me? I couldn’t believe it. Didn’t want to believe it. I took a chance and ran to the edge of the zombies where one man (white male, early forties) was dragging his right leg, it was slowing him down. The sound of him breathing reminded me of dishwater sucking down the plughole. I swung the sword high and severed his head from his shoulders. Neatly tossing it into the face of the old crone beside him. She staggered backwards and fell face first on to the blood soaked saw dust. It would take her approximately ten minutes to get standing again. How do I know this? Because this is the kind of useful information you pick up when you are married to Clive master of the Zombie Games.
The crowd cheered when I got Zombie 1 down, they laughed when Z- crone chewed the floor. The noise acted as distraction, the remaining z’s turned their heads slowly from side to side registering the sound but all the while staring at me with those milky blank eyes. I walked slowly putting the old crone struggling on the sawdust between me and the other z’s.
Two of the zombies watched the sword; they were young when they were infected, teenagers, brothers maybe. I could tell they had been infected a long time from their sluggish responses. I watched them watching the sword; they didn’t see where they were going and fell over Z - crone on the ground. The crowd roared. The last zombie, the one I was most cautious of approaching was a young woman in a nurse’s uniform. It was spotless. She was probably infected only a few hours, she still retained some brain function, enough to side step the old crone crawling around on her knees. She was not looking at the glow sword like the others but at the area of shadow and light next to it that was me.
I raised the sword to strike; she stepped back and to the side, drawing me towards the others, clever girl. All three were crawling on their hands and knees towards me having giving up on the complicated task of standing upright again.
She was going to let the others take me down and join afterwards. She had a plan.
The darkness smothered me, my head ached, the sword was very heavy and cumbersome to use. I had to keep an eye on the nurse. Goddamit! Where was she? Beautifully manicured nails on a lightly tanned arm grabbed my hand and tried to shove it between artificially white even teeth. Argh! I struggled and somehow managed to swing the sword close enough to cut her hand off, the other three were close behind, I could smell their putrid stench hunting me down. I shook off her severed arm and swung again. This time the sword glanced off her skull hacking out her left eye. It bobbed up and down on a grey slick tendril like some sort of eyeball yoyo. She staggered drunkenly spinning slightly so she was facing the audience. Snap! Spy bot flash. Clive you bastard. He’d timed the flash so she could see all the people sitting in the dark trapped like steak on a barbeque.
She lurched towards them. Like I said she still had some brain function, they were unarmed and there were an awful lot of them to choose from. I took a step forwards, but then I stopped dead in my tracks. Those bastards had paid to see me attacked they were getting what they deserved. The old crone was so slow now; I never understood why Clive used her in these games. Perhaps he still felt some loyalty to his mother. If I killed her he’d definitely have to get rid of me. Wait! Isn’t that what this is about?
People were clambering into the arena to get away from Z- nurse. Jerky body movements and glazed eyes marked the ones who had just been bitten. I held on to my sword. Its brightness wasn’t such a zombie attraction anymore. Z- crone was closing in on a man jittering on the sawdust. I raised my sword and decapitated my mother in law. Come on you’d do it too if you could.
Snap! Spy bot flash as I picked up her head and swung it up in the air at the closest spy bot. Old Ma made a direct hit, the spy bot blades scattered pink pulp all over the sawdust. I ducked to escape the worst of the Mom shower.
Z - nurse was chomping her way through the men cornered in the stalls. Clive is creating a zombie army. The thought struck me like the wrench he’d used earlier on my head.
I’ve got to stop him.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Seriously! I don't know what I'm doing. I think I know what I am doing.

A strange and beautiful thing happened last Wednesday.
Jo Eberhardt ( on my blog.
Such a simple thing really but it sent me wild with excitement.
Someone of Jo's calibre had taken the time out to read what I had written.
AND then gone to the trouble of adding her own comment.
I was orbiting the globe.
But then Gravity (that old kill joy) got busy and caught me by the ankles and started to pull.
I resisted of course. What true Rocket man wouldn't.
But I did crash land to earth some time about Fri noon.
It was too late to stop it happening.
I had been consumed by self doubt.
What am I doing on this blog page?
There are serious writers out there who blog about serious writer stuff.
If I were to run on to the pitch with the professional footballers I would get injured or worse still be shown up for the amateur that I am.
So with a nod to Jo and all the other serious writers I am going to take this blogging business more seriously.
There! I've said it. Now all I have to do is make it happen.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Clichés. Don't you just love em?

"He's as gay as two planks" she said.
I was confused.
I mean I can understand the phrase thick as two planks.
A plank of wood is impenetrable, it is thick because lets face it if it
wasn't it wouldn't be much use and its stiff and unyielding.
It is very useful when trying to explain about people who are not as clever
as you (NACAY) to compare them to two (not one) sturdy pieces of timber.
However to use wood to describe someone's gayness
is ..................wrong.
Just plain wrong. And inaccurate. In my experience most people spending
the pink pound are witty, clever, stylish and because they have to be -
Not at all wooden, or oaken, they may be sturdy but they are not stiff.
So I begin to wonder about my friend, does she belong to the NACAY crowd.
And then I started to panic and sweat (at the same time- its possible)
Did I want to be seen hanging around with her?
After all birds of a feather are known by the company they keep.
Or is she just tired? Was she burning the midnight oil at both ends?
Or is it worse?
Is she not the sharpest tool in the basket?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sleep! I need sleep.

Hubster and I had a late night Saturday night (unheard of lately)
so we were determined to catch up on our sleep last night.
(because we needed to recover big time)
So got big boy and big girl up to bed at 9.40ish and lights out at 10ish.
I was very pleased with myself.
Then managed to get Hubster up and in to bed for 10.53 (very specific I
know but it was important to be horizontal before 11pm)
So far so successful.
Everyone in bed and lights out .................
Boy child came in to me after lights out to say 'Good night'
He gave me a hug and a kiss. Sweet!
(I am lying on my back in the dark looking up at him towering over me)
and then he lifts up the quilt, hops in and cuddles in beside me!
He's too big my head is screaming - what about catching up on all that
sleep my head is screaming.
Hubster is oblivious - contentedly sleeping on his face taking up the
entire 50% of mattress he is entitled to.
I am now trying to survive on less than 25% because as Boy child sleeps he
Legs go askew. Arms go up and over his head. And he still manages to
burrow in to me.
Hubster is hot, Boy child is hot, I am on fire.Will I get up and go sleep somewhere else?
Boy child's bed is up in the air and I see in my minds eye great chunks of
concrete dislodging from the wall and the bed crashing down if I attempt to sleep there.
The couch is too short really for good sleep and anyway how do you exit a
bed with two big lumps on either side of you.
So I managed to convince my self to stay put and try to sleep.
And I did drift off until some time in the early hours when the alarm on
Boy child's watch went off!
Waking Hubster(something of note) but not Boy child.
I am wide awake again and go through all the original mind whirring of will
I move won't I move ...............
So to cut a long story short I am tired this morning.
What about you?