Monday, September 3, 2012
I cannot believe it's almost a month since I last logged on to comment! Where did that four weeks go? I have absolutely no idea.
I had a bargain struck with my writer self to take part in the Flash fiction challenges set by Chuck Wendig each week - but that went the way of 'best laid plans of mice and men' sorry Chuck. (I've only missed 3 really)
Then I was trying to think of the why. In other words I was trying to come up with a good excuse which didn't ring hollow to my own ears and I have to admit I had none.
Busy in the 9 to 5, no change there. Busy raising my kids, no change there. Busy running my house, walking the dog, minding my husband, no change there.
No the big change came from me.
I had tried and failed to put some writing time in to action each day.
Then one day became a week and a week became 19 days.
How did this happen?
Because I did not prioritise my writing.
Thats why I am typing this at 11pm
The dog got his walk in before I got the laptop out.
Just realised due to some faulty maths its only 19 days and not actually a month. Oops.
So just have to get chopping again.
Bum in seat and all that.
Seth Godin gives great advice about getting yourself in action - read his blog about looking for the right excuse at http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/05/excuse-112.html
I think he set me straight.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Its called How I got published and its bursting at the seams with articles from great authors like Clive Cussler, Marian Keyes and David Brin to name 3 of the many many fine writers who took part. The book is edited by Ray White and Duane Lindsay and they have broken it up in to sections like
1) writing a synopsis
2) gripping title catchy tag line
3) getting to know agents and editors
4) Query letters
All the articles are fascinating in themselves but one in particular piqued my interest. It's by a man called Keith Raffel and his question was 'What do you consider success?'
He published a book which got rave reviews and sold well. So he succeeded in all the steps to getting published and beyond. But he remained dissatisfied with his success. Why? Because he had not set his writing goal before he began. So every milestone he passed he was thinking about the next one.
He made me stop and think.
What do I consider my success to be?
I started this blog just one year ago and I have managed to post on it most weeks. This is a success but I am dissatisfied with it because I feel the quality of the writing in these posts could have been better.
The aim of the blog was to take part in the flash fiction challenges set each week by Chuck Wendig on terrible minds and that has been a success. Again maybe the quality of the writing could be improved (enormously).
So if I were to measure the blog simply as a) being activly publishing on it (score 1) and b) writing the challenges each friday (score 1)
I have reached my target.
But I want more from my writing.
I want to earn money and I guess some sort of acknowledgement that I have enought talent to be doing this.
Realisation! I need to start completing pieces to send out to magazines or papers.
What about competitions? I hate them. To be perfectly honest I feel like I am back doing exams in school when I do them. But I think they are a necessary evil to get know as a writer.
So my next target?
To get published.
For a something.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Hear ye, hear ye.
Here are the three opening lines I’ve chosen:
Brendan Gannon: “Everyone else remembers it as the day the saucers came, but I remember it as the day a man in a suit shot my father.”
Joe Parrino: “Three truths will I tell you and one lie.”
Delilah Dawson: “Thursday was out to get me.”
“Three truths will I tell you and one lie.”
Michael said throwing his naked body from the bed.
Here we go again I thought him and his goddamn mind games.
"That was great sex"
"I thought so too matter of fact" then I thought he always says that. What if that's the lie and hes bored with me?
"I love your cooking" ditto. He tells me every evening when he comes home from work. Is he just saying that so I'll keep feeding him?
"I wish I had your job" I always thought he said that because I earn more than him and I have shorter hours and he loves kids. So teaching 7 year olds would be right up his street.
"I miss you when you're not with me" He said that last night as he was leaving, he was going to show a young couple a house in the new estate on the other side of town.
What if he was lying and he was going to meet someone else, a woman for better sex and better food and a better time?
Whats he doing with me so?
I could hear the shower going and he was singing Hit the road Jack.
And I thought I am sick and tired of his mind games.
So I followed him in to the shower and I asked real nice 'Which ones the lie Michael'
he had his eyes closed so he kind of sniggered and said 'Baby, you're supposed to figure that out by yourself' so I jabbed him, not stabbed, jabbed with the carving knife I'd picked up on my way through the bedroom to the en suite. That got his attention.
'What the hell is that?'
'Its a knife asshole whats it look like? now answer the question?
'The lie was a lie, OK all the statements were true, I love your cooking, can you put down the knife please, sex with you is fantastic'
He was trembling in the warm water and I felt sorry for him - just a bit.
Why all the mind games?
'Isn't it obvious? you have everything going for you. You earn more, you have a better job, everybody loves you.'
I sighed then.
'I'll help you pack'
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Welcome to the Party
We are one year old today here at Mutterings.
(that we is me and my alter ego the writer (her ego is so big it counts as 2) I'm just saying)
a little something to kick you off.
Something good to drink?
Some good music
Mumford and sons The Cave
Jerry Fish and the mudbug club True Friends
The commitments Try a little tenderness
Some good laughs
Michael McIntyre in Dublin
Graham Norton and will.i.am
And thank you for stopping by blogosphere friends!
Friday, August 3, 2012
It’s almost a year since I pitched up my little blog on the blogosphere. And I’ve enjoyed everything enormously.
I feel like I should throw a party with pink champagne and canapés (sounds posh!) to thank everyone who has stopped by and commented. So nice things to eat and drink will be provided.
Nice music to listen to (Jerry Fish, Mumford and son, some Smokie to get you dancing.) and subdued lighting so everyone looks good. To be fair after enough pink champagne everyone looks good.
And for conversation we’d need some really interesting characters but not bossy cranky annoying ones. People who could keep the laughs going, Michael McIntyre for early on while the kids are still up because all his humour is PC. Graham Norton because he would stop everyone from getting all serious and morose (morose can be a big problem at parties). I had thought about inviting some authors (my heros) but I want this to be a fun event and if my idol appeared I just wouldn’t enjoy myself I’d be too in awe to speak let alone have fun.
So if you are a chatty type with an interesting turn of phrase be sure to call by on August 8th which is Wednesday next week. We’ll have a blast!
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
This is my friends story and will really only appeal to women who are
married to men who are driving them crazy right now.
She looked tired so I asked her
'What you been up to?'
'Yeah the whole sitting room. And I had to do some of it 2 and 3 times to
get the colour right.'
Couldn't figure that one out so I asked 'Were there stains on the walls or
She looked at me then 'didn't I tell you?'
'Tell me what?' I leaned in closer expecting something juicy or gossipy or
'Well remember a couple of weeks ago there was a Rugby match'
I nodded and said 'ah haw'.
'and Derek (not her husbands real name) asked a couple of his mates and
his brothers up to our house to watch it.'
I nodded and said 'ah hum'.
'And I told you he had borrowed a projector from work for the special
occasion' when she said special occasion she rolled her eyes like one of
those dolls we had growing up. The ones that were meant to be sweet but
could also be freaky and scary.
Again I nodded encouraging her to continue.
'Well he wasn't happy with the picture clarity on the wall so he painted a
big white rectangle on the wall'
'Oh Yeah he went out to the garage and got himself a brush and a big tin of
Jasmine White and drew himself a patch slap bang on the middle of the wall'
I was speechless.
'Was it ...neat?'
'Oh no totally fuzzy around the edges'
'Did he help with the painting, fix up the damage, make amends?' I asked
'Oh no. He's actually being very clever. He's stayed away every night
this week until I got the job done. I probably would have stabbed him with
the paintbrush so it's just as well.'
'Could I just ask one thing? What colour was your sitting room painted in?'
Men you are strange beasts to us girls.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
I am not going to jump on to the band wagon (s) critising this book series.
I will admit however to being 50 shades of green over her achievement with (if we are to believe the blogs abounding on this) poor writing, plot and characters.
I am thinking so much is wrong here and yet she is a big sucess.
And then it hit me.
Sounds simple doesn't it?
So I am off to my WIP and get cracking. I am going to ignore editing until I have the story on paper. Then I will worry about polishing it into something people might want to read and even (thunderclap) pay money for.
Check out Ellen Degeneres reading from the novel 50 shades of Grey on this link
Monday, July 16, 2012
The first sentence is from a random sentence generator - you have 1000 words - genre is up to you.
The noticed android walked past the wondering chamber.
Jed held his breath. You couldn’t tell the latest androids from the human population but this one was after some sort of mishap because his left leg was wobbling a bit and every time he took a step a little eek could be heard.
Jed was fascinated he nudged Chuck sitting across from him.
‘Uh’ Chuck was eating a barbequed steak burger in a large sesame seed bap he had at least half of it in his mouth and couldn’t hardly chew it. Complicated sentences were out of the question. Jed jerked his head in the direction of the android. Chuck stared his mouth fell open and half a partially chewed burger threatened to fall out. Jed kicked him under the table and his mouth snapped shut. ‘finish eating quick’ Jed snapped ‘we are going to make a few bucks ok?’ Chuck nodded swallowing coke and burger furiously. He wiped his hand across his mouth spreading grease and barbeque sauce across his cheek. ‘Right’ he looked at Jed ‘what now?’
‘I am going to instruct him to walk in to the wondering chamber and you will get up and follow us in there'
‘They have cameras and shit inside there in case anyone tries anything stupid.’
‘I know that! But out here someone else could spot him. I don’t want any government officials noticing him and carting him off to the mechanics. It’s the nearest place to get him alone.’
Jed stood dropping a balled up napkin on the table. ‘clean your face. You’ll draw attention covered in ketchup’ he sauntered slowly over to where the android was standing pretending to be adsorbed in the digitally created landscape outside. A forest of green leaved trees with a babbling brook gave way to a large open meadow covered in wild flowers.
‘Excuse me buddy’ Jed leaned close to the android ‘I want you to go in to the wondering chamber’.
The android took a quick photo of Jed, showing his clothing (lumber shirt, jeans and work boots) and a clear trace of his iris. He turned and walked to the wondering chamber and waited inside for more instructions.
Jed was behind him and Chuck followed in seconds.
‘What now?‘ Chuck asked checking nervously behind him every two seconds.
‘Hey Buddy’ Jed addressed the android ‘destroy all records from when you entered this burger joint’
‘I cannot do that, its against regulations’ his voice had a tinny quality but was very close to human.
Jed was nervous and Chuck’s agitated fidgeting was getting on his nerves.
‘I do not wish to be photographed. You photographed me with out my permission. I request all photographs be destroyed immediately.’ Jed waited sweat glowing from his skin in the unnatural yellow lights used in the wondering chamber.
‘I have done as you requested’
Chuck made the same statement and again the robot agreed.
Jed then reached inside the androids collar and flicked a switch.
‘Come on Chuck lets get out of here. This piece of robot is going to pay off most of my mortgage and yours too.’
Chuck didn’t answer. He’d never told Jed that he’d lost seventeen years of his life going into the wondering chambers in this city. He’d never told him about the years it had taken him to overcome his addiction. He snorted at that. Addiction. It was only addiction if you couldn’t pay for it.
But with this robot he could pay off his debts and live!
‘Sorry Jed’ was all he said then he swung his tool bag high and hit his friend killing him instantly.
He lifted the android on to his shoulders and left by the escape hatch behind the burger joint they’d spent the morning wiring cameras to.
‘People do insane things in the wondering chambers’
Monday, July 9, 2012
From the obituaries in Cork Today!
Today, peacefully at his residence in the exclusive suburb of Montenotte in
Cork City, Robert Maxwell of Maxwell Mills passed away. Surrounded by his
family, sons Michael, Robert and Toby and extended family.
Maxwell Mills ltd has been passed on to his eldest son, Robert Junior seven
years ago, Michael Maxwell the second son has emigrated to the United
States where he set up a franchise buying top quality wheat for the mills
The youngest son Toby remained as a care-giver to his elderly father for
the last six years. He was unnamed in the will.
Toby looked up at the cracked paintwork on the ceiling. An old leak had
stained the plaster work and mould grew along its fault-line.
It was cold and draughty in the studio but he had no where else to go. The
minute they had buried his father his brothers had thrown him out of the
family home. A 'useless waste of space' was what Robert had said as he
slammed the door behind him. Toby didn't even have the bus fare to get into
town so he'd stumbled down the hill and managed to find the door to this
shabby building not quite closed and not quite open.
There was somebody humming nearby, Toby glanced around and found a pair of
startling green eyes watching him from behind a huge easel. Her movements
were feline, graceful as she quickly ran charcoal across the page.
'Good morning sleepyhead' she smiled 'did you have a good rest in my bed?'
Toby slid his legs off the bed and managed to get his body sitting upright.
'What are you doing?' he asked the girl. She was dressed head to toe in
black and she wore a knitted black beanie cap. He really didn't think it
was that cold this morning. A pair of black gloves rested on one knee just
visible under her easel. She was very slim but her body gave off waves of
energy. He'd never met someone like her before.
'I am capturing your sleeping form' she said 'course you've gone and moved
now and spoiled it all' She took a rag which was casually draped across the
top of the easel and wiped the charcoal smudges from her hands. Replacing
the rag to its home she tucked her gloves into her waistband and stood,
stretching and yawning as she did so.
'Time for breakfast. You hungry?' Toby nodded. Casually she looked him up
and down her gaze sultry. 'Toby, you and I have something in common. We've
both been cheated by Robert Maxwell'. And she turned and walked through the
doorway behind her.
She stood at the kitchen window watching a chaffinch hopping about on the
branches of a huge sycamore. She was spooning sardines straight from the
can into her mouth without a glance. The smell of fish in the small
kitchen was over powering. Toby felt nauseated.
'Would you like some coffee and some soda bread?' he noticed the soda bread on the table 'hey you got Brennans best, it's the brand I always got for my father'
She looked at Toby then her brow furrowed. 'I picked it up last night along with these' and she upended a knapsack onto the table, a wallet, a set of keys, a
mobile phone, a cheque book and some clothes, all belonging to Toby poured
onto the table. 'How did you get these he spluttered in amazement' She
shrugged her shoulders then. 'I've been watching Robert for a while now, I saw him toss you out last night. I was going to invite you here but
then' she paused 'you invited yourself in'. She tossed the empty can out
the window and poured two steaming mugs of coffee. 'You had better eat
something, keep your strength up. We've a lot to get through'
Toby wasn't sure what they had to get through. His head was still reeling
from all the events of the last 24 hours. Toby sighed. It was finally
dawning on him he had no one to depend on except himself and maybe this
'We both know what Robert did to me it seems. But I don't know what he did
to you. I'd like to know.' Those green eyes were burning into his. 'You
think maybe I'm some nut job. After your brother for his money?' she
snapped. Toby nodded, might as well be honest when you've nothing to
'I was making a living, nothing extravagant, enough to get by when I met
your brother. He commissioned me to do a family portrait, him, that frigid
bitch of a wife of his and those two brats. Anyway when he comes to pay me
he gives me a cheque, for double what I asked only its unsigned see. He
wants me to copy his old mans signature on to a blank sheet of paper. And
then he'll sign. So I don't want to do it but my rents due on my little
studio and I haven't eaten all week. So I copy it down and I get it
perfect.' Words pour out of her like hot molten lava full of spite, she says this last bit with more than a hint of pride.
'So what happens next' Toby asked. 'He used that forgery to write you out
of your fathers will and the cheque he gave me was reported stolen so when
I tried to cash it I got arrested'.
Toby's mouth fell open.
'So tonight Toby Maxwell you and I are going to pay Robert a visit and
we're both going to get what's owed us' and she clinked her coffee mug to
his with a saucy wink.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
philosopher and author (1902-1983)
This lovely quote came to me today courtesy of the Word-a-day people.
I was signed up to this fantastic site by a good and thoughtful friend who
understands my need for words.
Especially new and wonderful words and the history of words.
And wonderful bits of wisdom and quotes from wonderful writers.
These little nuggets of joy appear in my in box while I am at work (paid
And they're great.
And they get me thinking.
Especially todays quote for the day.
WE/I perceive making love as something exciting, forbidden and dark.
While marriage is conservative, dull and predictable.
Its confusing really because we can't have marriage without love and
lovemaking being a big part of it.
Who will stick with you through thick and thin and put up with all your
craziness if they don't love you?
Conversely you must love your chosen partner a great deal to put up with
all his or her nonsense.
I know this is my excuse when my Hubster is rubbing me up the wrong way.
But what about lovemaking.
We can have sex with strangers.
There is a whole (illegal) industry built up around this.
It exists, but its not something I want to discuss here.
The treacherous territory is when you fancy someone, someone at work or
from your local sports club or your school.
Someone you've admired for a very long time from a distance.
Someone you've built up to something really special. And then you get it
Its a disaster!
That's what we're scared of isn't it.
Being below par.
Especially in the eyes of this God/Goddess we've created in the active
green goo of our imagination.
Facing up to the fear of appearing less than we want to be is truly
I must go now to my dull predictable marriage and make some radical love
with my Hubster!
Thursday, June 28, 2012
I have not been blogging regularly of late mostly due to time constraints.
The routine that the school year gives me helps me schedule in writing time
at the same time each day.
Now that we are out of school I cannot find a regular slot to sit and think
I can't even get the laundry and house work done either.
My days end when the day ends.
Or to put it another way its light some evenings until after 10pm and
that's when we get home.
In the beginning I created this blog to act as a tool to take part in
writing exercises such as Chuck Wendigs Flash Fiction and anything else I
It also allows me to comment on other peoples blogs and get involved in
discussions online which I feel strongly about.
So I am really happy I started this blog. It was like my own personal
commitment to my need to write.
And I must stop neglecting it. (Bold! slap on the wrist for that)
It has become clear to me that even though I get stuck in to the CWFF
challenges every week (I don't post if its not finished or total crap)
I write Chicklit!
Not horror/fantasy/science fiction or young adult fiction.
Nope I write about relationships.
What I write is a little different from the other CWFF participants.
So perhaps I don't really belong there.
(But I must add all the people from that writing arena have been incredibly
kind and supportive so for that I am truly grateful).
Eventhough my characters don't lose limbs and end up in alternate universes
we were still welcome at the CWFF shindig.
I was a little down when this thought first popped up.
I didn't want to give up writing because I really enjoy it.
I enjoy the process very much.
Perhaps if I ever get to the publishing stage I will not like that part so
But at the moment as a writer I am my own boss so I have enormous artistic
I guess I felt down because so much of the stuff in the Chicklit world is
packaged in pink and to be honest badly written.
But then I started thinking about writing I really like and would they be
called Chicklit or literature.
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe - all about relationships is
it Chicklit though?
Rumour has it - funny witty silly definitely Chicklit
Perhaps I'm just a snob?
Folks its time.
Time to embrace my inner Chicklitter that is.
Monday, June 18, 2012
Chuck Wendig Challenge - write a story inspired by this photo taken by Chuck Wendig.
Its a beautiful haunting image and makes me remember my father who passed away 18 years ago.
All my education about trees came from him.
His favourite was the Oak tree he liked their majesty.
This is less a work of fiction than a reworking of old memories.
The Crooked Tree.
My father planted trees when he was a young man. Before he married my mother and began that battle of wits called marriage. And before I or my siblings came in to this world. He planted majestic Cupressus Macrocarpa (Monteray Cypress). We always called them by their latin names because we didn't know they had another name. To us they were always there, tall, dark and brooding like Heathcliff. But where he planted them the soil was shallow and one night a storm tore one of them from its anchors and it stretched accross the rock and out into the air horizontal like a giant green arm pointing to the sea.
The tree had been planted to give shelter from a sharp south west wind that ran along the mountains and landed against the westfacing wall of our home. Severe gusts would make the lino rise and that bubble of angry air would run along under the floor covering making us all squeal and think of ghosts and banshees.
I think it was an excuse for my mother to scare the living daylights out of us. But usually it backfired cause no one would venture up the stairs at bed time when all the light and heat was downstairs by the old stanley stove.
That west wind could be very determined driving rain in horizontal sheets into the walls of our house so that eventually it would find the crack on the chimney. Then it would gather soot and travel down and in the morning before breakfast a river of black water would be running across the kitchen floor. Those mornings my mother resembeled a banshee more than any rogue wind travelling in under the floorcovering.
She would get old rags and cups and bail the black strong smelling water into a dish all the while keeping up a monologue of how awful her life was. As kids we knew how to act out our parts "say nothing and argue nothing"
Aren't kids amazing!
They just know how to be invisible when they have to.
One day when I was collecting the calves from a field near our house I notice initials carved into a tree. They were the same as my brothers so I assumed it was his handy work but when I mentioned it to my father that evening he smiled and said no "if you look again you will see 1938" is carved next to them". Well I was none the wiser so he said his brother my uncle had carved his initials there before he left for the states. He went to live in Boston and he never came back to Ireland.
He died some years back.
I never met him.
I often wonder what he was like.
Monday, June 11, 2012
I don't know what goes on at your store but in my local giant grocery store
they keep all the really neat stuff on Aisle 9. Stuff like jewellery and
lingerie and you can get perfume too. Oh and chocolates, beautiful
handmade ones. Everything close by so no chance of a guilty conscience
Aisle 9 is also where all the best marks go.
They're usually businessmen buying stuff for their girlfriends. Things
they don't want their wives to know about so they always carry cash.
I work in the local library its good steady work with a good steady income
but there's very little left over at the end of the week for any little
extras. And besides it's dead boring. Aisle 9 allows me to indulge in a
little harmless action and no one gets hurt well no one I care about.
I have a wire supermarket basket on my arm and I've put a really slushy
romance novel on it, it's to match the summer blonde I've been dying my
hair for the last couple of years. Makes them think I'm blonde and stupid.
Men love that.
I swing from Aisle 10 stationery and magazines into Aisle 9 and I spot a
couple of likely marks. One is older and tanned and wearing gold
cufflinks. I dismiss him instantly. Anyone displaying his wealth so
obviously is either broke or used to being a target so very cautious. The
second one is younger and definitely nervous. His hair is blonde and cut
quite short. He is looking nervous. Nervous is good. Nervous men make
I decide to make my move. I saunter past him and stop at the chocolates
checking out the ingredients on a pack of Lily O'Briens hand made truffles.
they look delicious but I know they are too expensive for my salary. I
drop them in my basket. With a sigh I notice my ankle strap is undone. I
drop my basket on the shelf and slowly run my hands down my leg to fiddle
with the strap. As I bend down my soft summer dress rides up and exposes
more thigh than is really in good taste. Mr Young Mark is lapping it up.
I can just see him change his stance so he can watch without being spotted
on the CCTV. Dirty boy!
Maybe I should drop something next to him and give him a flash of soft
curving breast? But no I think that would be over doing it.
Time to move in for the kill.
I straighten up and suddenly get very interested in the perfume in the
shelves where I rested my basket.
Mr. Young Mark is trying not to look at me but he can't resist shooting the
odd look at my legs.
I mean come on he's only human he's just had an eyeful of my thighs. And
they're good. I know because Rose keeps telling me how beautiful they are.
She's here now working on the till.
I lean towards him to take a bottle of scent off the shelf I know he's able
to smell my body so close to his.
I stand just behind him so when he turns he bumps into me not the other way
He looks confused and embarrassed.
I act as though I can't even see him. I have his wallet and while he is
apologising I rifle the cash and drop kick it under the display of fancy
He is still apologising.
I wave him off as if he were a nuisance mosquito.
'what ever' and I turn and and walk off up to aisle to the jewellery.
When I check his cash all I got was a fifty!
Lousy waste of time.
Only a cop would carry such a paltry sum.
Quickly I drop the money into the bag of an old lady walking past.
Seconds later Mr Young Mark and the shop security officer arrive.
The security officer asks me to accompany them to the office.
I flick back my summer blonde hair and look all puzzled.
I make sure my chest is almost in their face. This little dress I'm
wearing doesn't leave much room for hiding things.
'We just need you to accompany us to the office'
'I'm not going to any office with you boys get a female member of staff and
I'll think about it.'
Mr Security Officer arrives back with the old lady from Aisle 9. She is
holding a fifty euro note with a red X on it in the air like a flag.
'I think you dropped this dear'
Rose walks past then shaking her head.
She always said one of these days I'd get caught.
But hey that's half the fun. Isn't it?
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
I used (chain)saw, flowerpot and milkshake.
A storm is promised from the west coast tonight. It is August and the sun is very bright. The air feels cool because it is moving so fast. Katie is sitting on her haunches, using the north gable of the farm house for support. She is watching the clouds draw shapes on the blue waters of Kenmare Bay. Her sweater will be chalky when she moves away but she doesn’t care. It is the only place where there is some reprieve from the incessant high pitched mewing of the chainsaw.
The constant noise has whipped the dogs into a frenzy chasing each other and any cat or bird that strays into their path. They swoop past Katie pausing only for the briefest of pats.
Ann is in the kitchen washing lettuce. There is a neat stack of tomatoes glittering on the draining board. She is watching through the window as she works. It is south facing and when the sun rises above the valley rim it gleams harshly off of the stainless steel sink. She is watching Sam working with the chainsaw under the ancient oaks.
Even though the noise from the saw is almost unbearable here so close she doesn’t leave her vigil. Sam who is manning the saw is wearing the only pair of earmuffs. They are bright orange and sit slightly crooked over his soft cloth cap. He is cutting logs for firewood with an old Stihl saw that had been his fathers. Great arcs of saw dust fly through the air and a small mound is growing at his feet. The dogs dart past him at a furious rate, careful not to get too close, the small mountain of saw dust remains untouched. Logs tumble in to a rough pile right and left of his work area.
A great axe lies against the wood shed. The wood shed is already half full of logs split that morning. He will chop these after lunch.
Ann picks up a milk shake and moves towards the door: it is time for lunch. The wind has blown all the petals off the geraniums in the flowerpot on the window sill. She notices the great oaks behind Sam are swaying their leaves turning back to reveal their paler underneath.
An omen of the gales that are to come.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
I have to say I am not so happy with this piece. But I missed the last couple so I was determinded to do it this week.
The Hospital Consumed the Silence.
May lay on her bed. Sweat beaded her upper lip and a glassy sheen stared from her eyes. She bunched the sheets between gnarled fingers. Thin skin barely covered the blue veins that snaked across sharp aged bones. She pulled at the blankets and moaned softly. The nurses checked on her every ten minutes but it was no use. Even trying to keep her comfortable was becoming more and more difficult.
One of them was with her now, her starched white uniform pained Sams eyes ‘not long now’ she said frowning at her watch as she checked Mays pulse.
Sam sighed. There was nothing to do but wait for the end. The doctors had been around earlier mumbling something about catching it earlier. But Sam knew they were lying. They wouldn’t meet his eyes. Except for the boldest one, he looked straight at him and through him. ‘There is nothing we can do. Perhaps if you came earlier?’ They wanted you to believe it wasn’t their fault. That after years in college and working in the hospitals they still knew squat about anything unusual. He had made Sam uncomfortable they way he had looked at him. Sam wondered if he knew something about them.
And what was unusual about ‘Parsis’ fever. Nothing much. Just your common or garden viral infection. Causing the usual high fevers and hallucinations. And of course eventually killing you off. That’s the nasty part. Oh and it’s been eradicated for over 2 centuries.
That caused a lot of questions once they figured it out. Of course that was what threw them these mugs playing at doctor. It wasn’t supposed to be here.
Trouble was Sam didn’t think they’d be able for the truth. The truth about May or him for that matter. Would two old souls who had managed to survive death for five hundred years blow their minds?
May had been talking about being in Egypt and Persia and meeting Isis but the nurses had put it down to delirium. After all their tiny brains couldn’t cope with the idea of immortals. That was the stuff of legend.
Sam snorted at the thought of it. ‘Did you say something love?’ the nurse asked. But Sam only shook his head very slowly.
Immortal. If only that were true we wouldn’t be here. That’s what got us in to this mess.
Sam cursed himself. If he hadn’t gone out for some fresh air leaving her unprotected. If that old witch hadn’t got it into her head to drink our sons blood to gain immortality. If she hadn’t been infected with Parsis. If May hadn’t tried to fight her off. So many if’s.
May never really got over that. It was a bite from that old demon that had infected her. She’s had Parsis for nearly four hundred years but now Sam couldn’t care for her any more. He was tired. He was waiting for her to pass on into the next realm. And then he would go out into the forest like his ancestors before him when they had tired of living and let the life force flow from him. He felt lighter already having made his decision.
May’s breathing had steadied to a very shallow pull on the air around her. Her hands released their grip on the sheets. She sank back into the pillow. Sam watched the life force flow out of her. The room grew silent without her moans and raspy breathing. The silence grew and grew until suddenly the hospital consumed the silence.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Basically because I don't have any extra cash for spending on luxuries such as books.
Austerity anyone.. . . . . else?
There is a vast and excellent data base of free writing advice available online, Chuck Wending with his 25 of anything series, Janice Hardy with her real life diagnostics.
I am eternally grateful to these people for keeping me sane. Because for me writing is like therapy and without it I am one grumpy bunny.
So every week I attempt the flash fiction challenges set by Wendig. And every week I check out the writing advice from Janice Hardy buttttt what I love on her site is the real life diagnostics. This is where a wannabe writer wants some feedback on a piece. Say its an introduction to a scene or a piece of dialogue - they say what they want to achieve with a piece and Janice points out the bits she would change. And I quickly add here she is ever so gentle with her critiques and at the same time surgically precise. Truly fabulous.
Any way what got me on the topice of Creative Writing books is my two best writer friends got me one. A great big red one that looks very scary. It looks very much like a serious-must get your act together-stop messing with your hair-this is important kind of book. And it is all that and more. Its Creative Writing edited by Linda Anderson and its used as a text book for the open university course on creative writing. I checked it out on Amazon and it got 7 five star reviews and 2 four star reviews. Out of a total of 10 reviews. Thats pretty good.
I am a little intimidated by it.
One of the reviews suggested setting a time line and working through it chapter by chapter. On the OU course they do a chapter per week. So I might try something like that. I'll let you know my progress. Some serious work for the summer.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Apart from having my precious writing time interrupted by family I just couldn't seem to get the words to flow. I have read all the pieces on how to carve out a time and place for writing. And I have more or less done that. However as Chuck Wendig says over on Terribleminds if you don't take it seriously then no one else will.
I just don't know how to make something that hovers between hobby (everyone elses perspective) and desirable career (my perspective) become important.
Hubster has taken the view that every time I take out my laptop that he bought (big mistake) I am about to do some web browsing or software analysis for him. Or his company which becomes our company when it suits him. Its gotten so bad that I can't even take the laptop out myself now. I feel like a kid sneaking in to the teachers office expecting to get caught.
I hate this.
And the kids who are old enough to have opinions and go to school unchaperoned want their mother to help with "study" for their summer exams. So I silently fume and resent them wanting my time. This is quickly followed by guilt (so quickly in fact that I think they shared the ride here).
And what is making me nauseated is I know I am the person responsible for creating this circle of demands around myself.
How do I break this cycle of demand - resentment - guilt - fear.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
or so the old song goes.
I was listening to a Radio show the other day and they were discussing
books and writing.
Now I had missed the start of the show because of that pesky interrupter of
all things fun - paid work - so I didn't catch who was speaking.
But one of them said that to get a character to come to life you must have
the right name.
Once the right name lands on your desk you can get cracking.
This was a few days ago and I gave it no thought because I thought it was a
bit mad to be honest until...
(Drum Roll Please)
'Daisy' landed on my desk (really the inside of my skull).
You see I had this character in mind,
an older lady
I could see her house
her daily routine
her sense of humour
but I couldn't settle on a first name for her.
I had her surname but I wanted a girls name that would suit her.
And then Bingo! (or rather Daisy ) landed.
And its just perfect.
She's a bit of a scut so I didn't want anything too weighty
and because she's in her seventies it couldn't be a modern name.
And now that I have that she's absolutely bubbling with life and demanding
to be written.
so I'm off to do that.
How's your day going?
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
My story is about travelling into your neighbours yard.
Tadgh and Peadar were playing football in the street outside their home. They had spent all morning kicking the ball off the high garden wall of Mr O’Shaughnessy who was according to Conor, their older brother ‘at least one hundred years old’. Their mother had warned them not to bother him because he was old and cranky and ‘she wasn’t going over there asking like a beggar for some lost ball’. It was hot and sunny and their sport was kicking up dust flurries off the street.
Tadgh the younger brother kicked hit the wall at midpoint, it bounced back and Peadar catching it on return ‘gave it wellie’ and sent it sailing over the wall. ‘Conor’s going to kill us’ Tadgh’s lower lip was already trembling and his eyes were welling up. ‘Shut up’ Peadar snapped ‘don’t be such a baby’.
Peadar chewed his thumbnail and drew blood. His finger stung and he felt close to tears. Conor would be mad as anything when he missed his prized ball signed by Colm Cooper ‘The Gooch’. It wasn’t even supposed to be used as a ball.‘We’ll have to go over and see if we can find it. Come on’ but Tadgh held back. ‘I don’t think Mum would want us going over there. She said she wouldn’t be bothering Mr O’Shaughnessy. And you know that’s cause she’s scared of him.’ Tadgh pulled back to his own side of the street and stood up on the footpath. The extra few inches almost brought him eye to eye with Peadar. ‘Come on’ Peadar insisted, not wanting to travel into Mr O’Shaughnessy garden all by himself. ‘If something does happen I’ll need a witness! You can stay about ten feet behind me. Any how if he’s as old as Mum says he’ll never catch me or you neither.’Tadgh didn’t answer just nodded his head and wiped his running nose on his sleeve. ‘You go first and I’ll follow. ‘
Peadar crossed the street, the midday sun created dark shadows under the sycamore tree next to Mr.O’Shaughnessys gate. The old iron gate was cold to touch. Peadar pushed it open and the hinges tore and snarled so loud Peadar felt sure his mother would hear. He glanced back at his own back garden just to make sure she wasn’t flying out her own front gate at that very moment. Tadgh was making very slow progress down the footpath on the opposite side of the street. Peadar followed the drive up to the old mans house as it snaked through several large sycamores. His footsteps echoed against the tarmac and Tadghs footsteps echoed as well so it sounded like an army was trailing him. A blackbird flew out of one of the lower shrubs; Peadar gasped and only barely managed not to scream. His nerves were on edge and he could feel his palms sweat. The sweat was making his thumb sting.
The front of the house was shaded by the trees but in the centre of the lawn was an old man sitting on a sun lounger. He was holding the football in his hands and looked as if he was reading the inscription on it. He was wearing red tartan slippers with worn out soles. He had a walking stick lying next to him on the lounger. It was a funny looking stick because instead of a rubber stopper on the end it had a tiny slipper about the size of Tadghs fist. Peadar glanced back and Tadgh was standing just behind the blackbirds shrub. Just out of sight of the old man.
‘Hello. I was wondering who was playing such fine football off my wall all morning’ Mr. O’Shaughnessy looked at Peadar over his reading glasses. ‘So which one of Lily McDavitts boys are you?’
Peadar chewed at his bleeding thumb, unsure what to do next. The old man sat there watching him like he had all the time in the world. Peadar knew it was only a matter of minutes before his Mom noticed they were gone from the street out side his home and she would come looking for them. Taking a big breath he said ‘I’m Peadar, the middle one, Conor is the oldest and that’s his ball you’ve got there.’
Peadar waited then afraid he had said too much. ‘And who is that young gentleman behind the bushes’ he said raising his eyebrows. ‘That’s Tadgh, he’s the baby’.
This is a fine ball. I can just make out the signature. I don’t suppose Conor knows you have it? The old man stopped and waited.
'No he doesn’t and he’d kill us in he finds out.’ Peadar was afraid the old man was going to tell on them. His anxiety was making him sweat again.
'I’ll tell you what Peadar, let you take this ball back home. And why don’t you and your brother come here and play ball. I’ve a whole collection of them in that shed and you could play on the lawn over there. And besides you wouldn’t be wreaking my head ricocheting the ball off the wall all day for the rest of the summer. What do you think of that?,
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Why don't you give it a try.
Peter entered the kitchen closing the door behind him with an
inelegant back kick. He was shivering slightly in the chilly air his bare
feet slapping against the cold tiled floor. He casually dropped the morning
paper on the kitchen table as he dodged passed, swinging his hips 'like a
girl'. On the counter top he spied a loaf of 'Pat the baker's' Pats Pan
heedlessly left lying on its side, the last two slices spilling out of the
gaudy yellow wrapper. He took them and leaning across the cooker dropped
them in the toaster. With a smooth downwards movement he clicked the knob
to the 'on' position. The element inside began to glow a rich red and the
wonderful smell of toasting bread began to fill the air. Peter dusted the
crumbs off his hand in a quick slicing motion scattering them across the
counter, cooker and on to the floor. This slicing motion developed into
a few karate chops and suddenly he was kung-fu fighting imaginary aliens
up and down the kitchen floor his bare feet oblivious to the cold.
Very black smoke smelling of trouble started to fill the kitchen, 'Ah no'
Peter gasped out of breath from killing aliens. Bounding to the counter
Peter smacked the cancel switch on the toaster. It was a small red
triangle on the top of the toaster and it didn't respond the first two
times. Two rather sad looking pieces of toast emerged from the machine.
Peter was disappointed; they didn't look very appetising at all. His
stomach rumbled, a loud gurgling sound that started somewhere near his
toes. Peter rubbed his belly up and down, the soft fabric of his pyjamas
moving over his skin warming him. His toes began to complain about
standing on the cold floor strewn with crumbs so he shifted from foot to
foot as he rubbed first one foot and then the other against his pyjama
pants to warm them while at the same time getting rid of the grimy feel of
the crumbs stuck to them. The toast did not smell good. But it was the
last of the bread and he would have to eat it. Taking a knife from the
drawer he began scraping off the burnt edges with great vigour, but he
wasn't happy with the result so he cut off the bits he didn't like the look
of letting them land in a pile at the bottom of the sink in the middle of
the halo of black dust which extended up the sides of the sink and onto the
counter top. He took a plate out of the wall cupboard and dropped the odd
shaped pieces of toast on it. He carefully placed it on the table. He got
a clean knife from the drawer and the butter from the fridge and put them
on the table also. He pulled out a chair and sat down curling his legs
around the limbs of the chair so his feet were finally free of the frosty
tiles. Carefully he set about buttering his toast. His tongue stuck out
as he concentrated, his black hair falling forward shading his face. He
worked methodically right to left, right to left, spreading great big
knife-fuls of butter on to the toast. Mounds of melting butter squelching
along in front of his knife. He took another lump of butter to cover out
along the edges and buttered his index finger and thumb too. He licked his
fingers and his knife clean, wiped it on his sleeve and popped it back in
the drawer. As good as new!
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Sorry to anyone who has been checking in.
I was musing and muttering to myself and generally mumbling out loud.
Well you know what that gets you?
Strange looks from people who pull their collars up against the winter
chill beaming at them from crazed eyes.
Strangers who cross the street and travel down unfamiliar alleys just to
avoid you and your incoherent babble.
Well that was me and my babble and crazed eyes for a while.
You see life intruded on . . . life. So much so that I decided to give up
Yeargh! Bad decision.
I felt I had nothing to say and nothing to share and nothing meaningful
would ever emerge from that soft fleshy blob in my skull.
But then a miracle happened.
A Road to Damascus Epiphany almost (OK not as important as Pauls but very
important to me).
I took a day off work (the paid kind) and visited my sister who is also a
writer in her heart and we started talking about all manner of things.
Then she said – pay attention now. My wise sister said 'Whenever I hear
someone talking about writing on the radio or TV I light up'
And that was it. Because there in those 3 little words she had summed me
I light up
When I hear a radio discussion with an author.
When I hear books reviewed.
When my friend rings and says lets get together and do some writing.
I light up.
So folks what do you say? Lets do some writing. It's good for the
Friday, March 16, 2012
Fire of the Gods
“Uisce beatha” he said raising his glass and saluting her. The glass glinted in the dull lights of the bar. The honey coloured liquid innocent inside the tumbler.
“The water of life” his speech was a little slurred, then he swallowed the entire contents of the glass in one smooth practised move. He tipped his empty towards the bartender who replaced it immediately. His eyes were bloodshot, bleary and unfocused, red tendrils shot through the whites and you just knew he already had too much to drink that year.
Deirdre made circles on the dark wood table with the condensation from her own glass of Ballygowan...Still. Pierce burped, a fog of food and alcohol flavoured air enveloped Deirdre. She must have pulled a face because he suddenly seemed to notice her. “Don’t act so posh now Deirdre. I remember you coming over to our house and you hardly had the clothes on your back” he burped again. “Just cause your old man’s got a few bob. . . don’t think we don’t remember where you came from”. Fat chance of that in a town this size Deirdre thought.
She was seriously regretting promising Fiona to keep an eye on her brother while she mingled with the funeral crowd. Pierce wasn’t that hard on the eyes but he wasn’t much company. To be honest he was a pain but I guess burying your mother effected different people in different ways. “Do you remember when you were thirteen and I let you see me naked” he was smirking knowing at her. Good God he was attempting a wink his whole face crumpled in the effort. He leaned in to her and whispered “you loved it”.
“You are so disgusting. I had to stop calling over to Fiona because of you. And when my Mum tried to talk to your freshly departed old Mam about it she tore her apart. You caused so much trouble for both families.” Deirdre was so angry as she remembered her teenage self being so humiliated by this man. She could feel her face burn in remembered shame. If only she could hit his stupid face off the timber of the table again and again and again. Pity about the law saying you couldn’t do that sort of thing any more.
“But you loved it. Otherwise you wouldn’t be sitting here with me all night”
Deirdre looked him up and down then taking in the cheap suit that was at least ten years old. The food stains, the wet patch on his crotch where he’d had a mishap in the toilet and she thought I am so much better than this.
“Fire of the Gods” She said it slow and deliberate. He looked up at her confusion knitting his brow. “It’s what my father always called whiskey”
“Huh” was all he could manage.
“Shall I tell you why?” she asked but she didn’t wait for an answer “because it could burn a hole in your belly but it would definitely sting the hell out of your eyes” and she took his glass and threw it in his face. “Goodbye Asshole” and she disappeared through the heaving crowd of black.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
It is all the things that the critics have written about it.
Well acted, wellwritten, well directed, mercurial, visual and more.
But the story of Biutiful is so so sad.
Uxbal is surrounded by people but he is alone.
I won't say any more because you may get a chance to see it.
It is 2 hours long so be warned.
But it is one of those movies that stay with you.
This morning driving to work I was so grateful to be alive and healthy.
This movie gave me a gift.
The gift to see my life for what it is.
Javier Bardem gives an overpowering and now Oscar-nominated performance as the anguished street hustler Uxbal, who finds himself bowed down by
troubles. This is a story of a man in free fall. On the road to redemption,
darkness lights his way. Connected with the afterlife, Uxbal is a tragic
hero and father of two who's sensing the danger of death. He struggles with
a tainted reality and a fate that works against him in order to forgive,
for love, and forever. The film stars Academy Award winning Javier Bardem
(No Country for Old Men), who recently won the best actor award for this
role at the Cannes Film Festival. This is a tour de force that takes us on
a unique and compelling journey down the rocky road of human existence.
Monday, March 12, 2012
write a story of 1000 words or less using 10 of the 20 words below.
Beast, brooch, cape, dinosaur, dove, fever, finger, flea, gate, insult,
justice, mattress, moth, paradise, research, scream, seed, sparrow,
'He's dead' Sally slammed the phone back in its cradle.
'Who's dead?' her mother asked.
'That Goddam John Murphy, remember him, he tormented every day for a
month after my tenth birthday. Yes. There is justice after all.'
Sally opened the window and screamed 'justice for all' scattering
some small birds from the yard.
'He's very young to die. Are you sure you want to be celebrating?
'I didn't kill him. I haven't thought him for years so you can't
come over all guilty and say I wished him ill. Something bit his
finger and he got some kind of fever and he died. I'm not surprised
really he's been living rough for years. I always thought he'd be
stabbed'. Sally was rummaging about in her handbag. She pulled out
a large brooch.
'I never knew that' Sally's mother sat down and folded her hands in
her lap. Sally came to sit beside her. 'He wasn't a nice person
Mum, he would wait at the school gate and gather a gang of boys and
they would chant here comes Sally the Sparrow, she eats fleas and
marrow. It was insulting and hurtful and I hated him.'
Her mother didn't say anything just nodded so Sally continued 'I
heard he was sleeping on a mattress somewhere near the research building
at the university. They think he was bitten by a lab rat that
escaped. His body is going to be cremated because they don't know
what he died of. It's going to cause a big rumpus. Professor
Dinosaur is going to be in one heap of trouble after this'
'Isn't he the guy who gave you such poor grades last term?'
'Maybe you're right Sally, maybe there is justice for all, after
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
vacuum cleaner. Talk about Dyson with death.
A mate of mine recently admitted to being addicted to brake fluid.
When I quizzed him on it he reckoned he could stop any time....
I went to the cemetery yesterday to lay some flowers on a grave. As I
was standing there I noticed 4 grave diggers walking about with a
coffin, 3 hours later and they're still walking about with it. I
thought to myself, they've lost the plot!!
My daughter asked me for a pet spider for her birthday, so I went to
our local pet shop and they were £70!!! Blow this, I thought, I can
get one cheaper off the web.
I was at an ATM yesterday when a little old lady asked if I could
check her balance, so I pushed her over.
I start a new job in Seoul next week. I thought it was a good Korea
I was driving this morning when I saw an AA van parked up. The driver
was sobbing uncontrollably and looked very miserable. I thought to
myself that guy's heading for a breakdown.
Statistically, 6 out of 7 dwarves are not Happy.
My neighbour knocked on my door at 2:30am this morning, can you
believe that, 2:30am?! Luckily for him I was still up playing my
Paddy says "Mick, I'm thinking of buying a Labrador." Sod that" says
Mick "have you seen how many of their owners go blind?"
I saw a poor old lady fall over today on the ice!! At least I presume
she was poor - she only had £1.20 in her purse.
I woke up last night to find the ghost of Gloria Gaynor standing at
the foot of my bed. At first I was afraid.......then I was petrified.
A wife says to her husband you're always pushing me around and
talking behind my back. He says what do you expect? You're in a
I was explaining to my wife last night that when you die you get
reincarnated but must come back as a different creature. She said I
would like to come back as a cow. I said you're obviously not
The wife has been missing a week now. Police said to prepare for the
worst. So I have been to the charity shop to get all her clothes
The wife was counting all the 1p's and 2p's out on the kitchen table
when she suddenly got very angry and started shouting and crying for
no reason. I thought to myself, "She's going through the change."
When I was in the pub I heard a couple of plonkas saying that they
wouldn't feel safe on an aircraft if they knew the pilot was a woman.
What a pair of sexist pigs. I mean, it's not as if she'd have to
reverse the bloomin thing
Local Police hunting the 'knitting needle nutter', who has stabbed
six people in the village in the last 48 hours, believe the attacker
could be following some kind of pattern.
Bought some 'rocket salad' yesterday but it went off before I could
A teddy bear is working on a building site. He goes for a tea break
and when he returns he notices his pick has been stolen. The bear is
angry and reports the theft to the foreman. The foreman grins at the
bear and says "Oh, I forgot to tell you, today's the day the teddy
bears have their picks nicked
Just got back from my mate's funeral. He died after being hit on the
head with a tennis ball. It was a lovely service
Monday, March 5, 2012
Somebody That I Used to Know.
'When we are married will you sleep in on Saturday mornings with me?'
Declan was smiling but worry creased his brow.
'We don't all have your privileged backgrounds' Karen kissed him 'some of
us have to work. Besides I like what I do. Teaching is in my blood'
'Schools were closed on Saturday s when I was a boy' Declan lunged from the
bed but she quickly sidestepped him. 'Well' she paused to admire his naked
body spread across her bed 'a lot has changed since then. For starters
we've stopped using chalk and a slate. And we have central heating so the
kids don't have to carry a sod of turf to teacher anymore'
'Ha ha very funny'
'I'll see you later' Karen kissed him again. A very firm but distracted
kiss on the lips. Not one of those long lingering kisses that ended
several hours later in bed. She shrugged on her pink patchwork coat, she
called it her child's coat; it was hideous. She only wore it to her
Saturday morning job teaching adults to read and write at the local tech.
Something niggled at the edge of Declan's brain. Surely it was too warm
and sunny this morning to wear a coat like that. As soon as Declan heard
the front door to the apartment slam shut he leapt from the bed and dressed
quickly. He snatched his keys from the night stand and bounded down the
steps two at a time. He reached the lobby just in time to see the no. 2
bus speed by and a glimpse of pink patchwork sitting close to the front.
Bless that coat it really stood out from the crowd. Declan's heart sank.
Karen could easily walk to the local tech but instead she was on a bus
going in the opposite direction.
He flung his full six foot six-seventeen stone- built for Rugby body into
his Lexus and followed the bus determined to find out what Karen was up to.
His mother was right he was a fool following his dick. He realised he knew
nothing about this girl except the few things she had told him.
The bus sped along the bus lane making it difficult to follow, thankfully
traffic was light it was so early and Saturday most people weren't even up.
He checked the crowds getting on and off at each stop but he was certain he
hadn't missed that beacon of pink she was wearing. He followed the bus all
the way into the city centre. Where he was completely gobsmacked to see
Karen get another bus to the Northside.
It was such a beautiful morning, shoppers were beginning to stir. Young
families going to the park, workers in their shirt sleeves 'and she's
wearing a quilt. He thought 'something's wrong here.'
Karen finally got off the bus about halfway up the northside of the city.
She began to walk back towards Declan, panic seized him. Karen never
noticed him sitting there in the traffic watching her. Instead she turned
down a narrow street lined with closed-up shops and boarded up windows.
'This does not look good' he thought. The street led on to a larger one
which was less dilapidated looking. And there was a cafe with large glass
windows watching the street. Declan could see Karen sitting at one of the
windows chatting to one of the waitress's. It looked warm inside the
waitress's face was flushed and Karen's cheeks were pink and still she
didn't take off the quilt.
A tall man in a check shirt with the sleeves rolled up, jeans and work
boots entered the cafe. He made a beeline for Karen and sat at her table.
Declan clenched and unclenched his fists. But the man got up again, Karen
speaking animatedly her hands dancing through the air, he was smiling at
her and then he went and sat at another table. Strange he didn't stay
Declan mused. He knew her well enough to chat her. The waitress she had
been speaking to earlier arrived with two plates. So she is expecting
someone. Someone she knows well enough to order for.
An old man shuffled up to the door then. He was wearing old runners
without any laces, a brown tweed pants and an over coat tied with string.
He looked like he hadn't shaved for a few days. The old man hesitated
outside the door watching Karen pour tea into a large white mug. She added
some milk before looking up and catching the old man watching her.
Declan was not prepared for her reaction. Her face broke in to a huge
smile. She signalled for the old guy to come and join her. She held up
the second plate and showed him a full Irish breakfast congealing to the
plate. The old guy took a step back and looked uncertain almost as if he
was going to turn away and leave. Then his shoulders slumped and he pushed
the door open. He kept his head down as he shuffled towards Karen and slid
in to the seat opposite.
'Who the hell is that?' Declan's anger made his voice guttural. The old
guy made to get up but Declan roughly pushed him back into his chair.
'Stay' he said to him like he was a dog.
'Declan you shouldn't have followed me. This doesn't concern you. '
Karen's voice was calm.
'You're going to be my wife' he hissed 'of course it concerns me. This is
not Adult literacy unless you hold your lessons in a cafe? So you have been
lying to me for weeks.' Anger flowed off of him in waves.
'This is' Karen paused 'someone that I used to know'
The old man was trembling, he began to rock back and forth and a low
moaning sound came from him. 'Shut up for Chrissake' Declan snapped.
But that only made things worse. Karen reached across the table to him
'Shush Dad. It's going to be OK. I'll take care of you. Shush now you
can't be moaning like that or they'll bar us leave and then where will we
Declan looked from Karen to the old empty shell of a man sitting opposite
her and back to Karen. 'you have got to be kidding me. He's your old man?
I thought you said he was dead'
'He was. I mean I thought he was. But then I found him.'
'What's with the coat?'
'I was wearing it the first time I met him, in January, and it gives him a
sense of foundation, makes it easier for him to remember who I am'
'Karen, I can't deal with this. I can't have some nut-job turning up on my
doorstep looking for help. What if we had kids? What if they turned out
like him. I'm sorry Karen but from now on you're just somebody that I used
Saturday, February 25, 2012
This article really interested me because it deals with self publishing.
Self publishing seems to have divided writers right down the middle.
Those on the left say self publishing is for people who can't get a publishing deal with a 'real' publishing house' because their writing stinks and those on the right who say I have written something good but I won't go through a mainline publishing house because they will put it in a pink cover and market it as chicklit. Which is exactly what happened to Orna Ross an author with Penguin. She wrote a murder mystery set during the Irish civil war and Penguin marketed as chicklit in a pink cover. This is when this author and former literary agent decided to go the self publishing route. Ross decided it was time to give self published authors a voice and is involved in the Alliance of Independent Authors. (http://allianceindependentauthors.org/joining.html)
It is a non profit organisation which aims to help authors find editors, agents, designers, booksellers and publishers. It is a fantastic fresh idea. Perhaps with an Alliance such as this 'watching' our back we finally can concentrate on the business of writing!
Sunday, February 19, 2012
“You can write a whole page on a character making a sandwich and if you do it right it will be gripping and compelling.
This weeks challenge:
· You have up to 1000 words to write a story — not a scene, but a story — where a character makes a sandwich. Any kind of character, any kind of sandwich, but the point is to infuse this seemingly mundane act with the magic story-stuff of drama and conflict. Make it the most interesting “person-making-a-sandwich” story you can possibly make it. It needs to grip the testicles. It must twist the nipples. It must not let go.
Love Crazy Love.
Cian looked at Niamh.
Her eyes were enormous.
It was the first thing he had noticed about her. She was watching his every move. Frankly it made him nervous. As if he wasn’t already shaking with excitement and nervous energy. His stomach rumbled and he up stood suddenly needing to eat. “I never offered you any thing to eat” he said his voice unsteady. He swallowed then his Adams apple bobbing up and down on his skinny throat. She didn’t say anything. Niamh just kept watching him with those big beautiful brown eyes. He opened the drawer where his mother kept the knives but he couldn’t see the bread knife. He whistled through his front teeth in frustration. Then he remembered he had given it to his mother right between the ribs. It was still there lodged in her lifeless body in the back room. He could go and get it he supposed but he didn’t feel like cleaning the old woman off of it.
“I’ll make us a couple of sandwiches” he said too brightly “I have some chicken and some mustard and I’m sure there’s a bit of pepper somewhere. Everyone likes chicken don’t they?” He spoke to the air somewhere between them. He busied himself finding things in the fridge and laying them out on the counter for Niamh to see. Little mini offerings on an altar. “Normally” he said cutting thick uneven slices of bread “a girl as good looking as you wouldn’t even see a scrawny piece of meat like me”. He laid the bread out on the plates and began tearing the chicken off the bone “But you had been kind to my mother who just happened to be the old woman in the apartment across the corridor from yours.” Niamh didn’t even blink as he recounted her short history in his life.
“That time you came over for a cup of tea with my mother. God how she had fussed and fretted she even took out the good china tea set. It had been a wedding present over forty years before. Did you know that” he wiped chicken fat off his hands on a tea towel. Niamh nodded slowly.
“Mother didn’t want me around that day” he shook his head like a parent talking about an unruly child. “You’ll scare her off with your oddness. You’re so selfish! You never think that I might like to have a friend. A nice girl to talk to sometimes.“ He mimicked his mother in a singsong voice. “You’re a waste of space you are always in the way.” He hated his mother so much sometimes he could kill her. Oh that’s right he thought he already had he sniggered.
Niamh’s head shot up and she watched him carefully. Cian put a red pepper on the chopping board and began to slice it with a seven inch serrated knife spreading the slices artistically on the sandwich like a fan. “After that you saluted me on the corridor. And you even said hello to me once in the corner shop. Do you remember?” He asked holding the mayonnaise jar and knife in mid air like he’d just had the most brilliant idea.
“I knew you’d come. I knew I could count on you. All I had to do was be believable. Please come quick my mothers collapsed” he was laughing again it was such a high pitched unpleasant sound. He placed the final slices of bread on top of the sandwiches and cut them in to neat triangles with that lethal looking knife he cut the bread with. He took some fresh coriander from the pot on the kitchen window and sprinkled it over the sandwiches.
“Mother would be so proud” he sighed. “She never lets me make the sandwiches when we have guests. These are a masterpiece.”
He carried the plate towards where Niamh was sitting and placed it on the low table in front of her. “I’ll be very disappointed if you don’t finish it all up” he smirked “like a good little girl”.
He crouched down then so he was at eye level with those gorgeous brown eyes. “Now Niamh I’m going to undo your left hand, only your left had so you can eat your lovely sandwich. Unfortunately the tape on your mouth is going to be a bitch. But…” he shrugged in a you know how it is manner. Niamh raised one manicured eyebrow and waited. She flexed her left hand a few times to get the circulation going. The tape coming off her mouth hurt like hell. But she didn’t make a sound. When Cian turned to get his sandwich on the counter she reached behind her and pulled out her police issue revolver. When turned back to face her he had that goddamn knife in his hand. No telling what he would do with it so she shot him right between the eyes.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Write for your own enjoyment!
Unfortunately I'm not built that way.
I absolutely live for others peoples comments (praise - was I a needy child?)
I love when I get good feedback and lively debate from my writers group.
I love when CW challenges us to write and people from all over the world read and comment.
So to be perfectly honest I have never written something without picturing how it will be 'heard' by the reader.
Maybe that's where I am going wrong?
Maybe I should start a piece and adamantly insist to my subconscious that I am not going to share this with any living breathing human.
I can hear the voices in my head already arguing that one.
The thing is I can't be bothered if its not going to be read.
When I first started writing my plan was to give up the day job and improve my standard of living. Have more time for my friends and family.
However once I started on this road I really love the writing. Its not a means to an end any more.
In fact I need the act of writing (fiction)
If I was told 'No dear. Stick to the day job' I'd be sick.
If I had to give up making up stories in my head I'd be sick.
So heres to health happiness and writing!!
See you next week (I'm away for a few days)
Friday, February 10, 2012
‘It’s closing time’ she said. The old bell jingled as the door swung closed.
‘I’ll only be a minute’
‘Something for your wife, sir’ she said. ‘I could just kick him in the balls with my ‘fuck me’ boots’ Natalie thought.
‘Something like that’ Jim said. The soft cream of her thighs trembled a little as she walked around the display cabinet. Her skirt was very short. He watched her model engagement rings for a young couple pulling out more trays for them to ogle.
‘I thought they’d never leave’ he said
‘We closed five minutes ago’ finally she looked at him.
‘Please Natalie, don’t be like this’ he whined. He hated how she reduced him to this but she was so damn sexy. He reached for her but she stepped away from him.
‘Just give me a chance to explain’
‘There’s no need, really I get it. You’re married. You have kids. It’s fine.’ She walked around the store locking up cabinets and flicking off lights.
‘Look,' she paused her closing up shop duties 'if you really want to get something check out the cases in the window and I’ll even give you a discount, for old times’ she smiled at him then, a sort of lopsided look-at-us smile.
‘You’re the best Natalie. Jim felt foolish but he had to get something or his wife would kill him. He just couldn’t go home empty handed on Valentines. He slipped out to check out the stock in the window and she promptly locked the door behind him. He banged on the door. What was she playing at? ‘Natalie. Open up for Chrissake.’ She walked up to the glass and looked him up and down like some kind of cheap suit. ‘Valentines Day falls on the same day every year, you had twelve months to plan for this but no. You turn up here at the last minute and expect me to look after you. Why? Because you were so good to me? Because the sex was so good? Because of all the gifts and meals out you lavished me with? Idiot.’
She pulled the blind down. Jim waited. She couldn’t stay holed up in there all night and he was going to teach that bitch a lesson. He skulked in the shadows just a few feet from the door. If she thought he was going home with his tail between his legs she had another thing coming.
A tall athletic man in his twenties with blonde highlights strolled up to Natalie’s shop door and rapped. It was a childish type of rat-a- tat – tat. He heard the locks undoing but he couldn’t move. He was glued to his spot in the shadows. Natalie squealed when she saw the flowers Blondie had brought her – she pulled him into the shop. Jim couldn’t help it he just had to watch.
A cardboard display of a newly engaged couple admiring a ring fell to the ground. A tray of sparkling bracelets was swept off the counter. He could see Natalie through the chink beside the blind and Blondie leaning towards her. He was big in every sense and she was loving it. Her panties; a small scrap of lace were thrown to the floor. And the rumble of the stranger and Natalie could be heard out on the street above the noise of the traffic. Jim couldn’t take his eyes away.
His phone rang, it was Fran his wife, he didn’t answer it. ‘Honey, where are you? I thought we were going out tonight? Did you forget to make reservations? Let me know what’s happening’ Jim listened to the voicemail. He was sick with himself. Fran was a good woman. But Natalie was fucking gorgeous. It should be him in there with her sending diamonds flying.
Natalie and Blondie were standing inside the door laughing. He hadn’t noticed the blind going up. Blondie opened the door ‘hey Natalie give the man a break Honey, let him get something for his woman’
‘OK Tom, you’re the boss’ she sniggered.
‘T-thanks’ Jim stammered. Natalie’s knickers were still on the ground. Tom reached past Jim and picked them up. He patted his tight jeans pocket. ‘You don’t mind if I keep a souvenir?’
Natalie giggled and began kissing him very deeply. Jim had to look away. That’s when stepped outside and locked him in. Tom smiled at him through the glass. In his hand was Jims’ phone. It was ringing and Jim could see Fran’s’ face lighting up the screen. Jim slammed his fist against the glass of the door but he couldn’t break it. Natalie gave him a single finger salute before she pulled down the night shutter. He could see Tom talking on his mobile through the chinks in the metal. He handed the phone to Natalie. Jim felt the room spin. His legs grew weak and he slumped to the floor.
‘Could things get any worse’ he thought?
Tom and Natalie stood outside the window laughing and kissing. The phone on the counter started ringing. Jim stumbled over to it.
‘Jim’ it was Fran ‘where are you?’
‘I’m-ah-still in town, I-ah-got delayed, I-ah-wanted to get you something nice for Valentines’ he stumbled out the words.
‘You bastard!’ she hissed furiously.
‘I’ve just been talking to Natalie. She told me everything! How long you were seeing her, how she broke up with you, how you came to see her tonight! Everything! How do you think I got this number to ring you dumb ASS’ Fran screamed ‘I never want to see you again. And another thing you have no kids, you come near us again I’ll get Daddy to kill you.’
Jim sat on the hard industrial carpet looking dumbly at the dead receiver in his hand. ‘Christ’ he thought ‘that was close. She always said she’d get her old man to kill me if I cheated on her.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
I can't concentrate on what I'm supposed to be doing!
I am writing a scene and its set in a cafe and I want to describe the food but its making me hungry.
How can I write about gorgeous fresh salads, soft warm bread, juicy ribs, exquisite sauces and not drool.
It's driving me crazy!
I'll have to move the action to a truck stop that sells stale chips and burnt burgers!
Any one else have this problem?
Monday, February 6, 2012
I am trying to expand my vocabulary in a writerly sense.
Normally my stories would lay along the fault line of romantic fiction / comedy / relationships
This week I am tackling a crime story.
Because my writing group demanded it!
Damn their cold blood thirsty hearts.
Not sure if it falls under the hardboiled, soft boiled or cosy crime yet.
Any way genre (sub-genre?) aside what I want to say it this...
I went to see 'The Grey' mainly because Liam Neeson is in it
(and also because boy child wanted to see it).
I won't say anything much about it here because i don't want to spoil it for you if you haven't seen it yet.
But one thing.
Boy is it tense.
And really there is no let up on the tension bar one scene where there is some funny dialogue and the brief flash backs our main Character has to his lovely wife.
Coming away from it all I could think about was Jo Eberhardts blog about narrative structure and rythym.
Breath in ... breath out.
I don't think I exhaled for the whole movie.
So I am going to use this experience to guide me in my tension building
let a little comedy creep through here and there to ease the tension
Add a bit of romance to up the interest in the characters.
And hopefully I wont produce a pile of stinking ...writing!
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
As per instructions from Chuck Wendig
The love of my life.
'I love you'.
He mouths the words over my son's head.
His eyes crinkle up at the sides as his face splits into a smile so
enormous I think his head might just crack in half.
'I love you'.
I mouth it back.
It is such a perfect moment.
The noise of the hospital ward fades into the background and we are sitting
in a bubble of euphoria.
The exhaustion hasn't hit yet.
I smile back at my husband but I don't see his face anymore.
I smile and say I love you again but it is to a new face I am speaking.
The face of the person I love most in the world who cannot be here.
She cannot give me babies and marriage because she is married already with
children of her own. She is so clever. She suggested this union with her
'It'll be perfect' she said 'we can spend loads of time together and no one
will be the wiser'.
She was so excited telling me her plan 'you always wanted to be an actor?
well get ready for the role of a life time! Wife. Mother. Pillar of the
community.' She was practically on fire telling me all this and all I
could think of was how beautiful and animated her face was.
I do love my husband. I love him because he is a kind and gentle man. I
love him because he is the father of our son.
I sigh, utterly content.
He looks at me anxiously.
'everything alright?' he whispers.
'everything is perfect' I reply just as the rising sun washes the walls in
early morning orange.
Monday, January 30, 2012
Every wife reading this knows exactly what this means. We have passed the
passionate shouting to be heard stage. We are together long enough now to
know that just leaves us with sore throats and exhaustion. It was a
difference of opinion, a difference in parenting, a difference in how to
get the best out of people.
I was frustrated and angry.
Boy child was upset.
Hubster had decided for all of us something which in itself is quite simple
However there was another person outside the family involved.
Someone who is not quite and sage.
Someone who is reactionary and difficult.
Hubster never sees this person.
And never has to deal with the tantrums (OK not quite tantrums)
Only I and my son have to deal with this strong person.
We will be the ones doing damage limitation.
We will be the ones smoothing ruffled feathers.
And I was annoyed.
So I took the dog for a good long walk.
It cooled me down no end.
He enjoyed the exercise too.
But he was bold and willful. Insisting on sniffing every tell tale sign
left by some other mutt.
Is it something in the air?
Or is the moon out of line with the earth or something?
All the males in my life giving me grief.
But there is a silver lining.
For the first time ever someone - a stranger - thanked me for not letting
my big awkward over friendly dog lick him and paw him as he passed us.
I have this dog four years now.
Its the first thank you.
I was thrilled.
My stranger looked like a murderer so it took some of the gleam off of it.
He was tall and thin with very hollow cheeks and a grey hoodie with the
hood up, his hands tucked into his jeans pockets and his white runners
gleamed against the grimy pavement.
Looks can be deceiving can't they?
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Or best adaptation of a Novel to a screenplay.
Or any thing really.
Wouldn't it be the maddest thing ever to be in Hollywood today for the
glitz and glamour!
To be honest I probably wouldn't go.
I'd just film a message and have a GREAT party at home surrounded by my
(close) friends and (friendly) family.
I'm too shy to walk anywhere there are so many people with cameras and as
for wearing fancy frocks that you can't pee in?
Well thats a step too far.
Fashion is meant to make you pretty not cry.
I'm hoping Michael Fassbender gets something because he's one of our own.
Meryl Streep for being so fantastic everytime.
George Clooney just because . . . .
Well what do you think?
Friday, January 20, 2012
And now that the weather is a bit Springy all I want to do is gardening.
I was pondering Chuck Wendigs Challenge re: describe your death but the
superstitious in me did not want to play Russian Roulette with that one.
Imagining it might just make it come true!
But it did get me thinking on writing about death, killing off characters.
How do people die normally.
What is believable, acceptable, plausible ?
Monday, January 9, 2012
We celebrated women's Christmas on Friday.
Its also called Little Christmas or the Feast of the Epiphany.
Its the 6th of January.
2012 will always remain special for me because it was the first time I had
a group of great women to go on the tear with!
(translation on the tear means out of the house having a good time eating
and drinking and being merry)
(but because we were all driving ourselves home no one was drinking)
(but being sober didn't stop a sing song erupting in my local pub)
It was great!
And I am still feeling buoyed up because of it.
And I survived Christmas.
I don't mean to denigrate people with real troubles and stresses to
Money is tight, tighter than its ever been but we had a feast on the big
day, bought and got presents and managed to do everything we wanted to do.
The kids were content with their gifts.
It means a lot to be able to achieve all that.
So the relief is palpable.
Also there is a real Spring feel about the place.
The days are getting longer, its a wonderful time of the year.
Better than Christmas in my opinion,
On the writing front:
I've had a bit of a wake up call.
If I don't assign time to it every week and treat it like a real job its
going to be a haphazard jumble of ideas that never goes anywhere.
Other bloggers talk about word count and reaching targets each week.
Some people ask for time to dream and plan plots and story lines.
So what do I need.
1) time to plot
2) time to write
3) time to edit
Lets say I spend 3 hours a day doing all this and I do this 4 days a week
thats 12 hours.
Its not nearly enough is it?
If I could make that 20 hours I think then something serious would develop.
OK. Some Calculations.
How do I up my hours?
there are 24 hours in any day
minus 8 hours for sleep
that leaves 16 hours.
Of thoses 16 I spend 8 hours working (paid work that is) and commuting
that leave me with 8 hours
Minus 1 hour for walking the dog (I love this so it has to stay!)
minus about 2 hours for cooking and eating
so I should have 5 hours a day Mon to Friday for writing shouldn't I?
Ah I forgot
-badgering about home work,
-helping with home work,
-turning off TV and arguing with boy child and girl child about TV,
-trips to the cinema
All that has to stop.
Who says you cant wear 3 day old socks?
And I wear my hair like this cause lank and greasy is the new hmmmmm shiny
and glossy (?)
And washing it just takes so much time.