Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This blog is under quarantine

The blogger responsible for this blog has been infested with zombies. We advise extreme caution.

Blogging will continue once all the undead have been decapitated and their bodies safely disposed of. We apologise for any inconvenience this infestation has caused.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Challenge Inkpot Friday

All right, readers, I'm fighting fit and ready for another Friday Challenge. So, put on your thinking heads and fill the comment section with tasks for me to complete by Monday. I can't wait to read what you've got in store.

Thanks to Daily Pets for this adorable photograph. Visit their website for a daily dose of dog and cat cuteness.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What do you identify with?

Last week literary agent Nathan Bransford blogged about writers who get too tied up with writing being their identity. I don't really understand the purpose of his original post (it has since been edited to say 'don't let the publishing process define you') apart from the fact that it is unpleasant when writers spam you, send you angry emails and phone calls and generally demonise agents and the publishing industry. However, he did bring up a couple of points that I found interesting and, immediately upon reading them, offensive.
1. Is writing a hobby? While he has retracted this somewhat, in his original post he likens writing to a hobby such as stamp collecting. I am sure that loads of people write as a past time but just because you do something in your spare time doesn't mean it is a hobby. Writing demands a lot of time and input, even when you are not sitting in front of the computer typing out words, and to improve your writing you have to put in a lot of hours. If you want to get your work published - and change your writing status from 'hobby' to professional - you have to work hard at honing your craft, editing your work and sending it out, which all takes time and effort. At one time all authors were in the hobby category. I wonder if they had thought of it as such would they have ever got published?
2. The second point that caught my interest was his distrust of people who claim that 'writing is more important than oxygen.' Now, I don't know if I've ever used that phrase, but I know that I need to write. Whether anyone reads what I write or not, whether I get paid for my work or not, it doesn't matter. I have to write. The same way I have to draw and act. I need a creative outlet. If I don't, then it bottles up inside me and I don't feel right. From talking to other creative people, I know they feel the same way. It doesn't make me special, it isn't a virtue, it is just the way I am. I'm sure other people have to sing to keep an even keel or play sports. Does it make me sound over dramatic when I say I have to write? Is it something I would put in a query letter? No, because when you are contacting an agent it is for a business relationship and I don't think it has a place in a business letter. Do I expect my agent to understand my need to write? Most definitely. I would expect anyone who deals with creative people to understand their need to create and, at times their pretension about it. Understand and accept and help keep grounded in a business sense, not request that it be placed in a hermetically sealed metal box.
My point is, writing is a creative art. It requires part of your soul. It is part of your identity (part, not whole) and it is personal. However, it doesn't mean you can't distance yourself from your work, put your business hat on when needed, take criticism and behave professionally. Every creative profession is the same. I don't believe if you could separate it from you and put it away neatly that any great works of art would ever have been produced.
What do you think? What makes up your identity? Can you separate parts of your life that mean a lot to you and keep them strictly professional, be they job, relationships or hobby? Do we need to contact Mr Spock for some Vulcan advice on how to suppress our emotions?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm as weak as...

I'm not well. :(
Thanks to Daily Pets for this dose of cuteness. Check out their website for more adorable photographs.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Writing tip of the day

A popular nugget of writing advice suggests that you read your story out loud after finishing it. Hearing it being read helps to identity repetition, awkward phrasing and misspelled words that might be skimmed over while reading quietly.
While I agree that this is a good practice, I sometimes find it difficult to listen to the flow of the piece when I am reading it out loud. I get caught up on how to read it and often get no value of whether it reads well or not.
To help overcome this I have found recording reading it aloud and playing it back a big help. I like to listen to it with my eyes closed, as if it were written by someone else. I find this a great help in identifying pace problems, plot inconsistencies, stilted language and also if the story holds up or not. I find it helpful to listen to it again and again, when sometimes repeat readings can make the words meaningless before my eyes.
Have you ever tried recording your story and listening back to it? Did you find it helped?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Challenge #3

Those eagle eyed among my readers will notice I had not two but THREE challenges last Friday, the third being provided by Ying_Ko_4. Apologies for not mentioning it earlier, I only noticed it today. Here is my very rushed story in response to that challenge. Thank you, Ying_Ko_4, it was fun to write. Enjoy.


It's the End of the World as we Know It.

Inky sighted through her binoculars at the deserted petrol station forecourt below. Beside her Janna, her German Shepherd Dog, growled. Inky rested a hand on the dog’s head.
‘I know, Babe.’
She looked over her shoulder at the way she had come. Already the street was filling up with the shambling undead. The smell of the rotting corpses had become visible after twenty five days of continual sunshine. A halo of flies surrounded the hoard wherever they went.
Inky scratched her head. If she delayed any longer the zombies would catch her, but she dreaded going out into the sun once more. Its rays, which she once longed for, had become lethal and even a short exposure to them sapped her energy.
‘Come on, Janna.’
Inky scratched the dog behind the ear before leaving the safety of the building and running down the steps to the road. She had no choice but to go on. Without caffeine she wouldn’t survive another twelve hours of the suns leeching, and the petrol station was her last hope.
‘Please God there’ll be some left in this one.’
She jogged out into the street, her dog at her side. The zombies howled, catching sight of fresh meat, drawing more of their kind out of the abandoned shops and businesses that lined the street. Inky clenched her fists and urged her legs to move faster. From the moment she had left the shade of the building she had felt the sun sucking the life from her. Apathy threatened to overwhelm her. If she didn’t reach the shadow of the forecourt she would stop dead on the pavement, easy prey for her pursuers.
Janna nudged her leg and whined, giving Inky enough strength to run the remaining distance to the petrol station. Once underneath the awning, she stopped to catch her breath. The sprint had taken a lot out of her. If she didn’t find caffeine fast, she didn’t know if she would be able to make it to the end of the street.
Janna sniffed around the idling pumps, the high price per unit frozen in memorial to a way of life that was now gone. Outside the shop peat briquettes and bundles of sticks lay equally obsolete, thanks to the twenty four hour heat and sun.
The door to the shop stood open. The dog approached it cautiously. She paused, body tense, as she sniffed the threshold. After a few moments she turned to her master and barked once. The all clear signal.
‘Good dog, Janna.’
Inky slapped her pet on the back as she went into the shop. She wouldn’t have survived so long if it hadn’t been for Janna. Once in the shop she went straight to the dog food aisle and tore open a bag of kibble, spilling it onto the floor for the dog to eat. She took a bottle of water from the refrigerated cabinet. A plastic bowl full of lollipops stood on the shop counter. Inky tossed the sweets and filled the bowl with water. Janna took turns drinking and lapping up the food.
Inky poured the remainder of the water over her face and hands to cool down and then went looking for caffeine. There were no fizzy drinks left in the cabinets, all the chocolate had been cleared off the shelves. Even the coffee had been taken.
Inky pounded her head against the counter, making the cash register ping.
Janna looked up and whined.
‘It’s ok, Baby,’ Inky soothed the dog. ‘There has to be another way.’
She remembered there was caffeine in some pain relief medication. She started reading through the list of ingredients on what was left in the shop.
Behind her, Janna tensed, the mane along her back bristling. She started to growl, teeth bared, and then lunged forward barking.
Inky twirled. She hadn’t noticed the door behind the counter. It opened slowly, revealing the darkness of a room beyond. She grabbed a bottle of motor oil to use as a weapon.
A man appeared in the doorway. Janna whimpered and shrank back, pressing her body against Inky’s legs. The man wasn’t a zombie. He looked vaguely human, wore a smart suit and tie and had a large, smug grin plastered on his face. He looked familiar. Inky knew she had seen him before. She recognised his face from the posters that hung on the lamp posts out on the street.
He was a politician.
‘Join us, Inky,’ the politician said. ‘We have been watching you and we think you are just what our party needs. Come with us. We’ll protect you from the zombies. We have plenty of caffeine. We promise we’ll keep you safe.’
‘Never,’ Inky said. She threw the motor oil can at the politician. It hit him in the face, pushing his smile askew, but he kept coming with arms out stretched.
‘Join us.’
Inky screamed. She ran out the door and onto the forecourt. The zombies had almost reached the petrol station. She ran out onto the road, but her way was blocked by an army of politicians. She didn’t know their names, but she knew in her bones that they were the ministers for health, finance, justice and education. The junior ministers walked at the front, their arms outstretched, their grabbing hands like claws. At the back of the politicians, driving them forward, was the Taoiseach. Inky couldn’t see him, but she knew he was there and the thought filled her with dread.
She knelt on the hot tarmac, threw her arms around Janna and buried her face in the dog’s fur.
‘I’m sorry,’ she whispered.
The sun drained Inky’s energy. She could no longer stand. She crawled on her hands and knees away from the politicians towards the zombies. Janna limped after her.

Challenge #1

Shadowthorne, you set me a tough task with this challenge. For those of you who weren't around Friday, Shadowthorne challenged me to write a poem/prose extolling the virtues of something/someone/someplace that I hate the most. I decided to write about James Bond. I have hated agent 007 since I was a very small child. His womanising, chauvinism and smarmy charm always fills me with anger, so I thought he would be an appropriate subject for this most challenging task. I picked Goldfinger as my movie of choice to suffer through over the weekend so that the full glory of Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang would be fresh in my memory. Here is my offering, Shadowthorne. It hurt me to write it. I hope you enjoy.


Why I love James Bond

To anyone who has watched a James Bond movie, I would have thought the answer was obvious. In all his incarnations, agent 007 is handsome, witty, intelligent, one heck of a fighter and whoa! what a lover. However, for those of you who have not yet succumbed to the pleasures of ‘oh, James’, here are some of the reasons I love the man who is licensed to kill.

He is a spy. Who hasn’t dreamed of being, or being seduced by a spy? Their lives are so exciting. They get to travel to exotic locations, play with expensive gadgets before they are released to the rest of the population, tango and look good in evening dress. While I’m sure the reality is slightly less glamorous than the movies depict, we can all be spies vicariously through Mr Bond without any of the down sides. For the short while we are watching him on screen we get to be a spy with him, revelling in his daring escapades, his irresistibleness to women and his witty one liners. Who wouldn’t be entertained by that, I ask you?

He is so good looking. The only thing better than being 007 is being one of his conquests. While I wouldn’t mind meeting any of the various Bonds, Sean Connery would be my first choice. With his brooding dark eyes and smooth Scottish accent, I can see why every woman he met fell into his arms. It would be worth losing your psychic vision, as Jane Seymour did in Live and Let Die, just to have one night of passion with Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

He is so informative. I’ve learned a lot from watching James Bond movies. Some of it is applicable to everyday life – like how to avoid skin suffocation (which has been known to happen to cabaret dancers) from Goldfinger, while the other life lessons – such as how to act in a car chase and always wear evening dress under your wet suit – I haven’t had to use as yet. However, I am prepared for all eventualities.

He has impeccable dress sense. Whether in a tux or a pair of shorts, 007 is always perfectly dressed for the occasion. And, being a spy, he is very toned and well worked out, so clothes hang perfectly on him. I particularly like this towelling one piece beach suit. You just don’t see enough of those around anymore.

He is a man of action. From parachuting off ski slopes to amphibious car chases, Bond never stints on action. Good looks and witty one liners will only carry a film so far. In Bond movies, the action fills in the rest. The Roger Moore days did tend to take the stunts a bit too far at times, but even still they were enjoyable. Daniel Craig makes Bond too human. I prefer the Connery days where Bond was stylish and deadly.

His gadgets. Even the movies made in the sixties have gadgets which are pretty state of the art. While small cameras and GPS are pretty standard for us ordinary folk these days, who wouldn’t kill to have their car kitted out by Q?

And finally, the bad guys. What would Bond be without his villains and, even more so, the villains henchmen? Who can think of Goldfinger without Oddjob, his bowler hat wielding thug? Or Blofeld without his cat? And let us not forget Jaws, silver toothed fiend in both The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Because James is so wonderful we want to see him pitted against a villain of equal calibre. No second rate baddies for our boy, please.

These are only a few of the many reasons why I love James Bond so much. If you haven’t watched one of his films in a while, or if you feel lukewarm about our favourite British spy, I urge you to watch one of his movies. You’ll be hugely entertained, feel better about life afterwards and I can guarantee you’ll be hankering after a martini, shaken not stirred.

Challenge #2

Wow, Shadowthorne and SSQuo. You've kept me busy all weekend with your wonderful challenges (and I think you both passed on your colds through the comments!).
I've decided to split the challenges into two posts. This post is in response to SSQuo's challenge to write a Haiku about my intruder. The second post in answer to Shadowthorne's challenge will follow this afternoon.
So, here is my Haiku.

Intruder Knocking
Snail burglar at the window
Slimy prints on glass

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Friday Inkpot Challenge is Back!!!

That's right - the moment you've been waiting for has arrived! This time the challenge is going to be even more extreme as I only have until Monday to achieve whatever evil, insane and down right dastardly tasks you will set me.

Ok, you know the drill. Leave your challenges in the comment section. I look forward to reading what you come up with.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Can you tell me how to get to the coco bongo club?

I watched the movie The Mask the other day and it sure did bring me back in time. I was thirteen when it came out in the cinema and it immediately became a favourite. I loved Stanley Ipkiss, the downtrodden nice guy played by Jim Carrey, and I really rooted for him to win the heart of the beautiful Tina Carlyse played by Cameron Diaz. I loved the movie so much I watched it many times in the cinema and on video, drew pictures of the characters and re-enacted the scenes in the Coco Bongo nightclub with my cuddly toys. I even called a soft toy monkey after Tina (yes, I was an innocent child).

The Mask was just as popular with the other girls in my school. The girl who sat beside me in class named her dog Milo after Stanley's dog in the movie. Unfortunately her Milo had a much shorter and less exciting life than his screen counter part. He was knocked down and killed outside his house a short while after being bought.

One of the things that I really liked about the movie was the forties themed night club the Coco Bongo club. Another favourite movie, Blast from the Past, also features a hip happening spot called Club Forties. I love the dance routines and music that take place in these clubs. They ooze style.

Now, I know that these are movies, but my question to the more widely travelled among my readers is this - do clubs like these actually exist in the real world? Is there a joint as cool as the Coco Bongo, and if so, where is it and would you recommend it?

My second question is, what hotel/bar/restaurant/etc in movie land do you wish existed so you could visit it?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Books I'm reading at the moment

The books on my night stand at the moment are:-
1. Fatal Revenant by Stephen Donaldson - The most recent book in the final tales of Thomas Covenant quartet. The first three books were recommended to me by a friend. I found them dull and heavy going. Despite not enjoying them, I struggled through the next three volumes and the first volume in the final chronicles. I started this book months ago and it will probably take me another few months before I finish it. I can only take a few pages of Donaldson's verbose purple prose at a time.
2. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick - a classic from one of the greats. This book provided the inspiration for Blade Runner, but is not like the movie at all. Not the first time I've read it nor will it be the last, it is always fun to revisit old favourites.
3. Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin - I bought this book due to the amount of praise for the author on Amazon. I haven't started it yet. I like the cover, but the blurb doesn't entice me.
So what are you reading at the moment?

Monday, May 04, 2009

Writing Tip of the Day

This tip I learned from the writer M.M Kaye and I find it very useful.
When you finish your writing session for the day, always finish mid sentence. That way, when you resume writing the next day you will either remember where you left off or set your creative juices flowing to finish the sentence you left hanging.
It is much more inspiring than looking at a blank page or a neatly tied up paragraph and helps you know where to go next.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Friday, May 01, 2009

Fun fabrication fact Friday

Word: Pins
Meaning: Slang term for legs
Origin: During the early years of the twentieth century bored aristocrats used to play an early form of ten pin bowling using five servants and a marble sphere taken from a plinth. The servants were told to stand at the bottom of a hill, usually near a pond or lake, and the marble ball would be pushed down the hill towards them. The winner of the game was the person who had the most 'strikes' by knocking the servants down and pinning their legs with the marble ball. Players used to refer to the servants' legs as pins, referring to how many they had crushed and/or broken. The term entered common usage in 1929. It also became the name for the wooden manniquins that eventually replaced servants in this brutal game.

Have a good weekend everyone and for those of you enjoying a day off on Monday - have an extra good weekend. :)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Is there anything better...

Than riding in a convertible on a sunny day with the top down and the radio on full blast? It's my treat for finishing chapter 11 today. My brain is tired, my eyes are sore and my fingers ache but my shoulders are warm.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The verdict is in

The Gender Genie has spoken and concluded that I am male.

What does it have to say about you?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Writing Smiting - the movie!

You may remember my post at the beginning of the month about being blocked up and wanting mental Draino. The title of the post was Writing Smiting . While I think the imaginary in that post was pretty clear, here is a short animation to illustrate it, just in case you were waiting for the movie adaptation.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A treat for you

Instead of a Sunday Toon this week, I thought I would introduce you to my true self.

Don't get nightmares now!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tweet the Meat

As soon as Twitter opened its virtual doors a whole host of Twitter based zines started up. Tweet the Meat is a horror fiction market publishing Twitter only stories. It is accepting submissions from today (only accepts submissions at the weekend) and will launch officially in May. It publishes horror/surreal tales of 140 characters or less. The payment is $1 per story, which isn't bad.
To read submission guidelines, visit their blog here.
To read some sample tweets or follow them, visit their Twitter account here.

Friday, April 24, 2009


I found an intruder trying to get into the house through the patio door yesterday.

Luckily he wasn't much of a threat.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Character Building

When I prepare for an acting role I play very much by the Stanislavski rule book. I read through the script and see what the character has to say about themselves, what actions they make and what the other characters have to say about them. I think of my character in terms of what colour or what animal would best describe them, and then I step inside them and I try to figure them out on an emotional level. What has led the character to the place they are now at? Why are they the way they are? How would a typical day run for them? How would they react in a supermarket, on public transport, at a disco?
Some characters have simple motivations and are easy to work out. Others are more complex, but it is important to remember that all of them are performing actions because they are driven by want, desire and need. Characters don't see themselves as good or evil. In their mind, they are the hero. They may do things that are selfish or that hurt other people, but it is because their good intentions went wrong, or they feel threatened or they are seeking revenge for wrongs committed against them or their loved ones.
When you write a book, you have to get under the skin of each of the characters, not just one. I find this particularly interesting when it comes to the villain in Gift. I think I have created a well rounded character in the antagonist, and I hope other people will think so too. In fact, perhaps some people will even root for the 'bad guy'.
Then again, I hope I have managed to portray the complexities in the other characters as well. In many ways the main character is as much the villain as the one I have labeled the antagonist. After all, no one is wholly good or evil, and isn't it much more interesting when characters have flaws as well as strengths?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Novel Writing Update

I like to keep track of my writing and I use a spreadsheet to do this.
On the first page I record my daily word count, with horizontal columns for the months and vertical comments for the days. At the end of each month I tally the words and divide them by the number of days I have written to get an average daily total.
On the second page I record the number of books I've read, by month, including the start and finish dates and my overall rating.
On the third page I list the short stories I have submitted to markets, the date they went out, the number of words, the date I received a response and the payment and publication date if any. I also colour code all stories that have been responded to (red for rejection, green for acceptance) so I can tell at a glance which markets I haven't heard back from (they remain black).
So far this month the second and third pages of my spreadsheet aren't getting much use, but I am pleased to say that the first one is. I love to see the word count rising at the bottom of the page. It gives me a thrill.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Writing Distractions

It was so warm and sunny yesterday I kept the patio door open while I wrote. Mid morning, Fudge lured me outside onto the decking to play with him. The sun was warm, the air was fresh and the world was still. I felt so relaxed and peaceful. Playing with Fudge made me happy. Some say heaven is a perfect moment captured for eternity. If that is true, then moments like these will make up my heaven. For about ten minutes I was at peace, relaxed and without a care in the world as I enjoyed a simple game surrounded by nature. It is hard to focus on writing when I have distractions this good to tempt me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

And the Honest Scrap Award goes to...

L R Bonehill has very kindly awarded my blog the Honest Scrap Award. Check out his blog here and his beautifully horrifying short story 'In the Garden' here, in 52 Stitches.

The Award and Rules:

This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant.

The rules are as follows:

1. When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.

2. Choose a minimum of 5 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have five friends. Show the five random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.

3. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!

I'm not going to follow rule 2 and pass on this award because it is MINE, ALL MINE! but also because I know that some people don't like receiving blog awards (silly people) :). However, I am honoured L R, thank you.
As for rule 3 - ten honest things? Really? Oh, ok...
1. I was home schooled for most of my life because of illness.
2. I really want to get a tattoo.
3. I used to have a dwarf rabbit who was great friends with my two cats and dog and played with them all the time.
4. I started watching horror films when I was 3.
5. I'm the youngest of ten children.
6. My favourite game as a child was pretending to be a wolf or a panther and hunting people.
7. When I'm rich I'll use my money to travel the world and explore cryptozoological sights and take photographs of long thought to be extinct animals.
8. I have a plan in place for when the zombies take over the world.
9. I'm allergic to Tommy Girl perfume.
10. The song Dela by Johnny Clegg and Savuka (from the movie George of the Jungle) always makes me smile.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Toon

Thanks G. C. for inspiring this one.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

BIP #7 - Comments Galore Wrap up Post!

Kim planned two weeks for this but unfortunately I only discovered it a couple of days ago. Therefore I don't think I can really write about what new techniques I used for making my blog more comment-able.
Every blogger wants to see comments on their posts. It shows that their blog is being read, that they have connected with their audience and comments give vital feedback on their content. I have learned a lot from comments on my blog and I love catching up with my other blogger friends through their comments.

I have found that the blog posts I get most comments on are

1. Highly interactive, such as the Friday Challenge.

2. Have something to say or solid content and, while perhaps posing a question, don't just exist to pose a question.

3. Have caused a debate, either on the post itself or in reaction to comments left on the post.

For a really good list of other reasons people comment, check out Shadowthorne's response to my earlier post on this topic.
When it comes down to it, what prompts me to comment on someone else's blog? I guess first and foremost it is content. If the post has something to say, and is said in an interesting manner I want to add my two cents worth.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Gift for You

Because I've updated three days of posts in one fell swoop, I thought I'd give you a little gift today - to thank you for reading and commenting, and to help you chill out after a tough week.
So here it is, the sound of Brittas Bay, Ireland.
I hope you like it, I find listening to it very relaxing.
Talking of relaxing, what helps you de-stress at the end of the week?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Boundless Living Challenge

I blogged about this in November last year, and my hair brained scheme to get a literary agent in 45 days.
Round three of the challenge has rolled around and this time I have officially signed on, with my first Boundless Living Challenge blog and everything (I know, there is a danger of spreading myself too thin, but it is only for 45 days).
The Boundless Living Challenge was started last summer by Bob Doyle to help people change their lives in 45 days. You pick an area of your life you want to work on - your goal can be as big or as small as you want to make it - and then you use the Ning community to help you reach your goal. There is a lot of help and support and, I think the main idea behind it, accountability to your other participants make sure you reach your goal.
The Challenge is completely free and some people have achieved amazing things in the last two rounds.
Now it is my turn.
My challenge for the next 45 days is to write the complete first draft of my new novel Gift. For those who follow the blog, you know I've already started work on the planning stage. Now it is time for the writing. I don't plan on using the next 45 days for a Nanowrimo like dash of creative out pouring either. I want to write the best darn first draft I can, and from the preparatory work I've done, I think it is going to be a pretty good novel when it's finished.
You can see my first challenge vblog entry here (don't I look pretty).
So what would you change in the next 45 days if you took up the challenge?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

BIP #7 - Make your blog more commentable

Once again I'm the chubby rhino from Jumanji running along five minutes behind the rest of the Blog Improvement Project herd. I've just found out that April is Focus on Comments month and that the wrap up for the first task is on Saturday 18th.

Oh well, I'm not too worried. As long as it helps improve my blog, what does it matter that I am taking longer to do it than the other BIPpers - right?

So, making my blog more comment friendly.

A lot of the articles about this on BIP mentioned writing open ended posts, posing questions and making sure to reply to comments (something I have been very bad at doing lately - sorry).

Now, I thought I would incorporate a few of those techniques into this post and ask you, dear readers, to tell me what makes you comment on a blog post. What is it that really makes you get out your keyboard and type? What are the things that turn you from a lurker to a participator? And what are the things that really annoy you and make you leave a blog in disgust?

I look forward to

(is that open ended enough?)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An open letter to television *spoilers*

Dear Television
How long have we been best friends? You've had my back for more years than I care to remember. There were the glory days of The X Files and Firefly, of Futurama and Frasier. We even managed to weather the lean years when Sex and the City nearly drove us apart. But now we have come to this. Three shows over the weekend that let me down. Big time. Television, how could you do this to me? Does our friendship mean nothing to you?

First there was Red Dwarf. Ah, the nights I would stay up to watch you show me the adventures of Lister, Rimmer, Kryten and Cat, muffling our laughter so we wouldn't wake the others in the house. You've been teasing me for weeks with the prospect of a new episode, after a decade of RD being off your screen. What happened, TV? Yes, the crew returned in the three part special titled 'Back to Earth', and I must admit it was good to see their faces again, but the magic was gone. The first part was one long set up without any jokes and no explanation of how or why the crew were back together. The second part was cliched and what a bad idea to bring in Coronation Street. The third part was derivative and ended abruptly. I know you say it was a homage to episodes in younger, brighter days, but when does a homage become rehashing of old story lines?

I could have forgiven you the Red Dwarf incident if - within a day - you hadn't hit me with a double whammy of despair. Even after the last few days I find it hard to make my fingers write about them. You know what I'm talking about, don't force me to say it, Telly.

All right, I will.


We've had good times with the doctor, T, don't get me wrong. We've both loved David Tennant as the 10th regeneration and followed his journey eagerly. I'm sorry to see him leave, but you promised me four specials this year to see him out. Specials. Notice the word, Television. SPECIAL. There was nothing special about the hour long mish mash of Tomb Raider, Pitch Black and previous Dr Who episodes that was served up cold and greasy on Saturday night. If I didn't know better I would think you were trying to poison me.

What's that? You're trying to take the sting out of losing David Tennant by making me stop watching Dr Who before he leaves? I'm not going to thank you for that, TV. I wanted to burn my eyes out after watching Planet of the Dead. I don't know which part offended me most. Perhaps it was the inane Lara Croft wannabe Lady Christina who could hardly wipe the grin off her face long enough to say her lines, and squeezed in the obligatory 'kiss the Doctor' before she flew off in a flying bus. Maybe it was the atrocious over the top scientist played by Lee Evans and the idiotic bumblings of UNIT that would have made the Brigadier blush. It could even have been the fact that the paper thin story centred once more about strange things happening in London, that the characters had no emotional depth or the fact that I've seen darker stories with deeper meaning on the Teletubbies. You know what hurt worst of all? It was boring, Television. I almost fell asleep watching it.

Perhaps I could have recovered from the stab wound in the heart that was Doctor Who, but then you kicked me when I was down. Your crowning effort, Television, was to pummel me in the kidneys with Primeval, ITV's answer to Dr Who.

It's always been ropey. The science fiction wouldn't pass in a 1950's B movie, it is traditional monster of the week fare, but over the three series I've grown fond of the characters and, let's face it, series two was a real corker. It was darker, and started to lead the characters down an interesting path. I've been disappointed by the first three episodes of series three, but I've learned that sometimes you have to give things time to bubble in the first few episodes until they thicken into a more satisfying whole. You've taught me that, Television. I never thought you would betray me with your own lesson.

You killed off Cutter. Never mind that he was the lynchpin of the series - I could forgive you if you had killed him in an interesting, dynamic way. But no, you just shot him in cold blood and ruined the only truly interesting part of the programme - the power struggle between him and his pretty amazing anomaly hopping wife. I could even have forgiven that if the preview for next week's episode hadn't featured that brain dead, stereotyped police man from last week. Bring him in as a new character and that's it, we're over Television. For good. I mean it this time.

You know that this pains me more than it does you, but you really have to pull your weight in this relationship if our friendship is to continue.



Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm all of a Twitter

The poll has closed, the votes have been tallied and the result is in.
Twitter is the winner!
I have set up my twitter account - you can find it here, or read my tweets at the side of this page. Now all I have to figure out is how to use it to promote my blog and what on earth am I going to tweet about????

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday Toon

Happy Easter

Novel Writing Day #3

Today I finished with my synopsis writing, character developing and scene charting. I'm pretty happy with the wad of paper work that I have accrued. What I found most helpful from doing the preparatory work using the methods I already mentioned was
1. Writing the story synopsis/out line from the other character's points of views. I usually put a lot of work into the non pov major characters and the notable minors and know a lot about them before I start writing, but I've never thought about what the book would be like written from their point of view before. For some of the secondary characters I found it a challenge to write the story from their pov and still make it dynamic and interesting. I learned a lot about my characters doing it, and about the blind spots in my writing.
2. Focusing on finishing each paragraph, bar the last, of the plot outline on a disaster (from the snowflake method). While I think you have to be wary of making your writing too formulaic and boiling it down to a science rather than an art, I enjoyed examining each scene to see exactly how it drove the story forward and how to make it page turning even when it wasn't action orientated.
I have also written out various words on a big sheet of paper to remind of things that I like in books and that I don't want to lose sight of while writing Gift. Things like MAGIC. I hope it will help keep me focused.
I hope to start chapter one tomorrow, even if it is only the first couple of paragraphs. It will be hard to get any serious writing done because we're celebrating Easter and I'm in charge of the vegetarian dish (I got off very easy). Also, I suppose I should take one day off. As we know, all work and no play makes Inky a dull girl.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Farewell Dr Who

Planet of the Dead airs on BBC 1 this evening.
It is the first of four special episodes wrapping up David Tennant's tour as the Doctor. I really like him as Dr Who. I think he brings the right mix of fun and seriousness to the role and he has become my favourite actor to play the 900 year old alien. I am looking forward to the episode tonight (the trailer makes it look suspiciously like the movie Pitch Black) but my excitement is bittersweet. I don't think I'll watch the show after he leaves. It's not because DT won't be in it anymore (although I will really miss him) but because I don't like the direction they are taking with the new Doctor. I dislike the fact that the Doctor is getting younger and younger with successive regenerations (he is from Galifrey, not Ork) and from what I have seen of Matt Smith, he is too close to the energy and mannerisms of DT. I'm sure he is a fine actor and I have nothing against him, but after the best Dr Who ever I want the next incarnation to go in a completely opposite direction to what we've seen for the last three years, and it doesn't look like they are going to do that with Matt. Shame.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Novel Writing Day #2

Still working on the foundations, so to speak. I'll have another day tweaking them and making sure everything is in order before I can start writing the novel in earnest.
Oh, I feel quite giddy with excitement. :)


I'm addicted to Queryshark. What is that, you say? It is a query letter critiquing blog run by a literary agent. Check it out.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Novel Writing Day #1

Today I started writing my novel. Well, not writing exactly but working on it. Most people tend to agree that novelists are divided into two types.

1. The kind who wing it, writing by the seat of their pants and hoping it will turn out ok. Those who follow this method feels it frees their creativity and any structure problems or inconsistencies can be fixed in the second, third and subsequent drafts.

2. The second type of novelist plans everything in great detail before starting to write their book. Every character, setting, plot point and scene is meticulously researched, planned and graphed. They find that by putting the ground work in before they start writing it makes the experience more enjoyable, the quality better and the number of rewrites fewer.

I have used both methods and found pros and cons for each. Writing with the sketchiest of ideas can be great fun. There is the thrill of making it up as you go along, of discovering characters and plot twists that you could never have foreseen and every day brings new discoveries. However, this is only when things are going well. It is very easy to write yourself into a corner and even when you finish on a high note, you can end up endlessly rewriting it to make it into something interesting.

I would naturally be the more prepared kind of author. I like to write out pages of plot outline, character profiles and sketches, genealogies, maps, graphs, chapter breakdowns and calendars detailing how much work should be done each day. This usually works quite well but writing the novel can become tedious and, if you haven't written your outline properly, it can become too restrictive.

I have recently discovered that my pre-novel preparation may not be helping me as much as I thought. Yes, I write pages of plot but it is actually mostly background rather than action. And those character profiles, complete with drawings and family trees? Well, they tell me a lot about where the characters come from but not that much about why they do the things they do.

I thought I would start this novel out on the write foot (heehee) and try not one but two different novel preparation techniques. Today I went with the snowflake method, more especially the snowflake method as outlined by Randy Ingermanson. This way you start with describing your novel in a sentence, than a paragraph and expand up from there. Tomorrow I will use the synopsis method as work shopped by Kathy Carmichael.

It'll be interesting to see if these methods help me produce a novel that is snapped up by a publisher in no time.

In case you are wondering, I've decided to go with the fantasy. Working title: Gift. Thanks for all the comments. :)

Novel Writing

Part of my plan for this year includes writing two novels, one of which I started in January while on writing retreat and then decided to shelve due to the comments I received (you remember the young adult versus adult debate, no? Well, maybe I didn't tell you about it then).
My plan also includes getting into the HWA (can put a tick against that) and applying for membership of the SFWA (still to be completed).
Anyway, back to the novels. I really have to start writing them if I am to draft, rewrite, edit and submit two novels this year. I have an outline for a fantasy novel and one for a horror (which, thanks to Shadowthorne's comment the other day has been fleshed out nicely). I'm going to blog about writing the novel because a) I think it will act as a much needed mental plunger and b) I thought you might find it interesting.
Now to decide which idea I want to work on first. Hmmmm.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I Need Chuck

Some technical problems have cropped up for me in the last day or two; Areas on my website I want to fix but don't know how, my humbling inability to podcast, my almost complete and utter lack of html know how. I have come to the conclusion I need Chuck, or someone from the Nerd Herd, although preferably not Jeffster. In fact DEFINITELY not Jeffster. The thing is, do these people exist in real life and will they fix my computer woes for free?

Podcast Problems

Blogger told me Podcasts were easy. I thought they might be fun. Now I know they're not. I did exactly as they told me, but it didn't turn out as I had hoped. Therefore, I will leave the Podcasts at the moment and post this link for anyone interested in listening to it. It is an audio version of my horror story, 'Who's for Dinner?', first published in Alienskin Magazine. Iseult Murphy (c) 2008.

Who's for Dinner.wma

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

What car?

Pinky let me borrow her Megane Coupe convertible the other day. Man, that is a nice car to drive (Pinky's model not pictured). I'm used to driving the Clio and, while it is a decent car, I had forgotten what a difference the extra price tag makes. Smooth road holding, excellent suspension, feather light controls, automatic lights, key card ignition. I could drive that car all day. Yeah, Baby. It reminded me that driving can also be fun, something I'd forgotten since my accident.

Writing Smiting

Naturally enough I haven't been very productive on the writing front of late. Short stories have languished and novel ideas have grown cold on the back burner. I had great fun yesterday making up graphs comparing my acceptance rate this year to last year. Valpot commented that it was good to have a way to pass the time that didn't involve writing. I agreed heartily.
Hang on a minute, isn't there something wrong here?
Last week as I sat in front of a blank word document, the cursor blinking sulkily, I felt bunged up creatively. 'If only I could get mental Draino to unclog my brain,' I thought 'I'd be writing with gusto again.'
Then it hit me. Duh! I've got writer's block. Thought I had it before, but never realised it could feel like a physical presence in my psyche. I really feel as if a part of my mind - that creative centre lodged somewhere between the Hypothalamus and the Pituitary - has a U-Bend all clogged up with nasty grey sludge and long black hairs and nothing can get through that wall of soap scum. The ideas still pop up, but without creative flow they got caught and well up in my imagination, making a messing puddle all over my subconscious without ever getting to my conscious mind, let alone my typing fingers.
Maybe it is because I am not passionate enough about any of the story ideas I have at the moment, I try to rationalise.
What I need is a mental plunger, a subconscious chemical so powerful it can cleanse my ego and id - or a hatchet. Whichever comes to hand first.

Monday, April 06, 2009

So many choices!

As I mentioned yesterday, the latest BIP is encouraging me to join a social networking/media site and use it to promote my blog and build connections. I decided to do some research into the different social media outlets available to me, as there are so many. Here are the ones I thought sounded most interesting:-
1. Twitter - Twitter is a text based social media site, often called the 'SMS of the Internet'. People communicate with 140 character long messages or 'tweets', which are updated during the day (think of the Facebook status bar and nothing else). It sounds like it wouldn't be too time consuming to take part in and a lot of agents and publishers appear to be using it.
2. Helium - Writers are paid for contributing articles which are then peer reviewed, the highest rated articles receiving the most money. As recently as last month a range of social networking features have been added to the existing writing and reviewing functions. I am already a member of Helium (a very absent member) and I found it quite time consuming to write and review articles that I would only get pennies for when I could be writing stories for bigger paying markets, but perhaps I missed the point and should give it another go.
3. Friendster - A social networking site focused on helping people make new friends. One of the first of these sites, it predates Myspace and Facebook (although they seem to have a lot of features in common with it). I like the idea of the fan profiles you can set up to draw more attention to yourself.
4. Ning - A place where you can make up your very own social networking site within the easy to use templates of the Ning banner. Sounds fun - but what would my social networking site be about?
5. Digg - People share stories (from the web) and vote on the ones they like (dig) or dislike (bury). The most digged (dug?) stories every day are displayed on the front page of the site.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Blog Improvement Project

I popped by the Blog Improvement Project site today and - oh dear - I really have missed a lot in my absence. There have been carnivals (social media ones, I'm not sure if they are more or less fun than ones with candy floss and geeks) and getting back to blog basics and I'm still stuck on brainstorming! Oops.
I'm going to take the next few weeks to get up to date with the project and help inject some much needed life into me and my blog. However, before then I need your help.
The latest task is to pick a social networking site and sign on. I'm not quite sure, my brain seems to have turned to spun sugar (too much thinking about carnivals), but there was mention of stalking authors and celebrities and promoting your blog on a social networking platform.
The thing is, I've tried Myspace and Facebook and I don't know, I feel as out of place on the virtual social networking scene as I do in the real life version.
This is where I need your help. Do I return to my neglected profiles on the above mentioned sites and try to promote the hec out of my blog, or do I boldly go where no Inkpot has gone before - and if so, where? Twitter? Bebo? Facespace? Ahhhh!
Thoughts and suggestions much appreciated (I might even put up a poll).
Happy Sunday.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Invisible Ink

Last year my short story 'All in the Family' was published in Invisible Ink 2. The anthology published the chosen stories anonymously and readers, when they were finished, were meant to log onto the website and vote for their favourite story. After six months, the story with the most votes would win £1000 and a publication deal with Baineth Publications (publishers of Invisible Ink).

The voting for Invisible Ink 2 closed in December 2008 and for months I've been hopping over to Baineth to see whether the winners of the competition had been announced.
Last week I received an email from the proprietor of Baineth Publications, Fiona Foster. Unfortunately, due to serious health problems, she has had to cancel the competitions and close down the publishing house.
I'm sorry to hear this, more for Fiona's sake than for mine. I don't mind not winning the £1000 and publication deal (although I could do with the money) but I am disappointed I don't know how many votes I got. Vanity, I know, but there you go. Even an inkpot isn't immune to ego. Perhaps it is better I don't know.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Iseult Murphy Dot Com

I've done some revamping to my website - streamlining and updating, that sort of thing. I'd really appreciate it if you would pop over to it (click here) and let me know what you think.

Horror Writers Association

Every little girl has a dream. For some it is to own a pony or win a beauty pageant. Mine was to become a member of the Horror Writer's Association.

Finally, that day has come.

Thanks to my publications in Necrotic Tissue and the forthcoming Sonar 4 Anthology, I have qualified for associate membership in the HWA (does that make me a AMHWA?). I can't describe to you the thrill of being in the same organisation as, among others, Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson and Stephen King. I've been wriggling, giggling, squirming and jumping with delight ever since I heard the good news.

Now to get the book deal that will qualify me for full membership. Better write the book first, I guess!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Is there anybody there?

After my long absence, I know it is not very likely.
If there is anyone reading this, I want to apologise for not posting. I've been ill and, on top of that, I got eaten by my pet cloud, Fluffy. For any Futurama watchers out there, think of the horrible gelatinous blob, but with a cloud. And then, when I thought I was getting back on my feet I had a relapse!!!
Thank you Miss Panda for guest blogging. You did a great job. Pity I asked you to cut your stay short.
To my loyal followers - thank you.
To any new comers, please stick around. I hope it will be worth your while.
And while you are here (if any of you are) please let me know what you think of the little changes I've made to the space (the new header and the tweaked colour scheme). Love it or hate it, let me know.

Friday, March 20, 2009

je ne regrette pas

Dear Angels

I got an email from Inkpot today. The good news she is feeling a lot better. I’m sending lots of hugs and positive energy to you, Inkpot.

She wants to get back to blogging so this is my last post. I really enjoyed my week here. Thank you for giving me the chance to try out your blog, Angel. And thank you too, readers and commenters. It has been a blast.

Went to Watchmen last night. NOT my kind of movie. If it is going to be about real issues, I prefer a movie to be set in a real setting and not have nutcases in Lycra running about and a glowing blue naked man. Then again, I’m not into superheroes or comic books. Phil LOVED it. He said I ‘didn’t get it’ and am not ‘deep enough’ to understand Alan Moore’s genius. What? Me, not deep? I’m so deep I’m shallow!

To get him back I’m posting this picture of him. He doesn’t like me talking about him on the interweb.

I think I understand why people blog now. I’m away next week on a shoot, but when I get back I’m going to pick your brains Inkpot on how to set up my own blog.

Au revoir

Miss Panda

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Let me entertain you

Work is mental at the moment. We’re organising shoots for two big commercials coming up and I’m on the phone all day to location scouts, the wardrobe department, director’s P.A’s, agent’s P.A’s, etc. I’ll probably have a cauliflower ear by this evening.

I’m eating lunch at my desk today so I thought I would write my entry while I munch. I have to be careful I don’t get mayonnaise on the keyboard. It stinks out the office for a week when I do.
I’m going to the cinema tonight. The BF has been gagging to see Watchmen. It is NOT my kind of movie, but he went to see Mamma Mia with me (the first time) so I think I owe him.
My topic today is celebrities. The job I have I occasionally get to meet some ‘celebrities’. I don’t have much to do with them because I am little more than a glorified runner, but I have shaken hands with a couple of stage and screen actors and the odd sports star.

Ireland is a very small country. Unless you have lived here you can’t appreciate how small it is, and everyone in Dublin has a celebrity story.

One night I went for drinks in the Clarence with some of the girls after work. I went up to the bar to get a round in. I find it always pays to get the first round. People remember it because they aren’t too plastered to forget and it gets your obligation out of the way.

There was this bloke sitting at the bar wearing a pair of sunglasses. I thought he might be blind or something. Anyway, he starts chatting to me, asking me what I thought of the place and where I worked, stuff like that. I’m used to being chatted up. Men take one look at my voluptuous panda curves and round black eyes and fall upon me. I suppose because I am exotic – and also very cute. This guy was not my type and I was so not interested in flirting with him. He was too old, for one thing, but he looked really familiar. I thought he might have been a friend of my dad’s. He seemed pleasant and he wasn’t being too overly friendly, more polite, so I didn’t give him the brush off.

We talked for about five minutes, and it kept niggling at the back of my furry brain pan that I knew this guy and he probably recognised me and thought how rude I was for not remembering him. Then the barman came up and took my order and I went back to the girls. They were whispering and giggling so I asked them what the joke was.

“That was Bono you were talking to.”

I thought he looked familiar! Luckily I know his music better than his face. He is a sound guy.

Love and light

Miss Panda

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's black and white and red all over?

Miss Panda after her workout.

It was a hard session tonight. I wanted nothing more than to leave work and go home to the salmon steak waiting for me in the fridge. Whisk up a nice salad, pour a cool glass of chardonnay to accompany it and who can ask for anything more? It had to wait however, and still does, because after writing this I have to shower and then, if I still have the will to live, I’ll make my dinner.

Some answers to your questions. What does BF stand for? Boy friend, as in boy (or male) who is my friend (as in romantic relationship rather than platonic). His name is Phil and he is a gorilla. Yes, you might think it strange that a panda is going out with a gorilla, but if I were to wait for a male panda to come along I’d be a skeleton before he made the first move. Do you know that male pandas don’t know the first thing about flirting? All they do is sit around and eat bamboo all day. Then again, bamboo only gives you enough energy to sit around and eat bamboo. That’s why I stick to salmon, and chardonnay.

Second question, sort of. What am I doing in Ireland; shouldn’t I be back in China? I am so sick of this question. I AM IRISH. Yes, I am a panda but my parents moved to Ireland before I was born and it says I’m an Irish citizen on my passport. So there.

Back to my workout.

One of the benefits of the (now over) economic boom in Ireland is that lots of different types of gyms have opened up. There is the gym for the beautiful people, the mirror less gym for the ugly people and the do it at home computer game gym for the person who doesn’t really want to work out at all. Most gyms come with pools these days – and they are heated, indoor pools, no more jumping in the 50ft for you. There is aqua aerobics, slimming programmes, personal trainers, Pilates, yoga, yogalates (and then there are cafe lattes, my favourite).

Like most people, I enthusiastically sign up to a gym membership in January, work out every day until my fur sticks together, and cancel my membership in March because the last time I went was before Valentine’s Day when I wanted to fit into that slinky red number. This year, because every penny has to count, I have been going religiously three times a week. I’m paying for it so by god I’m going to get my money’s worth.

But why waste your money on a gym at all, Miss Panda? Good question. You might think my cuddly physique comes naturally, but you would be wrong. It takes a lot of hard work to look this darn cute and adorable. Sure, if I sat around doing nothing but eat bamboo all day I would stay naturally rotund, but because I eat high energy foods like salmon and spend most of my day sitting at a desk making phone calls, I would soon balloon into a shape more commonly found on a Blue Whale if I didn’t exercise. That’s why I have to go to the gym.

The variety of gyms isn’t the only thing to have changed in Ireland. It used to be that health food meant you cleaned the dirt off your spud before you cooked it. Now every supermarket has a health food section with nuts and whole grains. Most large supermarkets have at least one shop selling herbal supplements and things with strange sounding names like msn that are supposed to make you feel better.

Of course it also means that now there is a Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist in every shopping centre and that is certainly a very good thing. I hope they manage to survive the downturn and that people appreciate their true value, rather than thinking of them as luxuries.

Miss Panda

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Beannachtai na Feile Padraig

Happy St Patrick’s Day. I hope you had fun drowning the Shamrock. I certainly did. The BF, me and some friends watched the parade on telly and played a drinking game every time a marching band came on. Hurrah! It was fun. Of course, there was also the obligatory green Guinness. I’m not a Guinness drinker usually, but I’m a patriotic panda and make sure I have a pint (or at least a sip of the BF’s pint) on St Patrick’s Day.
Dublin city centre closes down for the day so the parade can – er – parade through the streets. I used to be involved with it when I was part of Youth Drama Ireland. It was great craic. You could make good money painting shamrocks and Irish flags onto the faces of the kids watching the floats (actually, I should have done that again this year, I’m a bit strapped for cash).

I gather I went on too much yesterday. I’m a bit like a charging rhino once I get going, so I’ll try to keep it brief this evening. I have to get ready for work tomorrow, so it is no harm if I keep this short.

As promised I’m going to talk about religion. You may have heard that Irish people are very spiritual people. We are. We love whiskey and brandy and vodka and gin. I’m very fond of Baileys myself. Baileys and ice, Baileys coffee, Baileys cheesecake (not sure if Baileys is a spirit or a liqueur).

Today being St Patrick’s Day, the Irish people filled the streets to pay homage to their national saint in the usual places of worship. In the city centre these are mainly Grafton Street (Southside, therefore a good place)
and Henry Street (Northside). In the outer reaches of the city there are places like the Dundrum Town Centre, Liffey Valley and Blanchardstown.

It is actually nice to see the shops so full of people again. Christmas it was like a ghost town. I know the recession has hit people pretty hard. A lot of my friends have been given their marching orders.

Tomorrow I am going to talk about health and fitness. I think a visit to the gym is due after all the chocolate and alcohol I indulged in today.

Miss Panda

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hello Blogosphere

Hello Angels, I’m your substitute blogger for the week and you can call me Miss Panda. My first day on the job and I barely got my post in on time. Inkpot didn’t tell you anything about me, so I better introduce myself. I’m a Dublin girl, born and bred. I work in the entertainment industry. I met Inkpot a while ago at an audition. I don’t have a blog (although I have lurked) and I’m interested to try one on for size. As far as you are concerned, I’m about 5ft 6, am covered in black and white fur and have the round cuddly body of a panda. However, don’t be taken in by my looks. I have very powerful jaws and long claws on my paws (but mostly I look cute).
I thought I would spend the week telling you a bit about life in Ireland – or more specifically Dublin. My plan is to take a different aspect of Irish life and write about it every day. Today my topic is politics.
You may or may not know that Ireland is a Republic. That means it doesn’t have a king or queen and is run by a group of ugly bullying school teachers who like to give us lots of homework (aka raise our taxes) and slap us for being naughty (aka voting against their wishes in a referendum).
The country is split into 32 counties, 6 of which don’t belong to the Republic (and therefore don’t exist). The most important county is Dublin, because that’s where all the interesting people live, especially in the Southside. The city is divided by the River Liffey into the Northside (ugh) and the Southside. The people of the Northside and the Southside have been locked in battle since the Vikings first invented Dublin about a thousand years ago, but recently efforts have been made to bring peace and reconciliation. Landsdown Road (in the Southside) used to be where all the Rugby matches and interesting concerts were staged until the Bullies (I mean Government) shut it down for “refurbishment” and forced the rugger crowd to move to the Northside and play in Croke Park (home of the GAA – you know, Gaelic football and hurling and stuff like that). It was supposed to bring the two sides of the city together in their equal love of sport. The jury is still out on whether it succeeded or not.
The headmaster of the bullies is called the Taoiseach (pronounced Tea-Shock) and is always a member of the Fianna Fail party. There used to be other political parties but Fianna Fail lackeys planted body snatcher pods in their green houses and took them over.
As well as the Tee-Shock, Ireland also has a President. This was installed by the first Tea-Shock, the devil – oops, I mean DeVelara. He loved being given a salary by the state so much that he invented the need for a president and set himself up for the rest of his life. Since then several more ugly beggars have managed to get looked after by us poor students (I mean taxpayers).
Unlike places like the U.S, our president is nothing more than a well paid puppet that has to attend show jumping festivals and occasionally gets to shake hands with real presidents and important people. Unfortunately puppets do very well in Ireland and tend to take over our TV shows as well as our cushy political positions (Google Podge and Rodge if you don’t believe me).
The president lives in a big house in Phoenix Park called Aras an Uachtarain (which roughly translates as something about ice cream).
Phoenix Park is one of the biggest enclosed parks in the world and is bigger than Hyde Park in London and Central Park in New York.
Dail Eireann is where the Tea-Shock and his minions hang out. It is located somewhere near the President’s house. Here is a picture of our current Tea-Shock, Brain Cowan.

Once a president has filled her seven score years in office she can look forward to a large pension to keep her in the comfort she has grown accustomed to for the rest of her life. Once a Tea-Shock is finished wringing the country dry and selling his soul to Europe for a handful of beans, he can look forward to a retirement full of tribunals and being asked questions like “How much exactly was in those brown envelopes people kept on handing you while you were in office?”
I hoped you enjoyed your lesson about Ireland and its political system. There will be a written exam at the end of the week to see how much you took in.
As tomorrow is St Patrick’s day I thought I would tackle the subject of religion.
Miss Panda

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Guest Blogging

Dear readers, thank you for your patience over the last couple of weeks. I'm really touched by your perseverance and comments. Unfortunately I am not yet up to returning to running the Inkpot Files. Therefore, I have enlisted the help of a friend to give you something to read during the next few days. I met her recently after moving to Dublin. She doesn't have her own blog (I think she is a little afraid of the Internet) but when she heard I wasn't so well she was keen to see what it is like to be a blogger. I will let her introduce herself to you tomorrow. She has told me some of her ideas for the week and I think they sound good. I hope you like them too. This is the first time I have had someone guest blog for me so I am interested to see how it pans out.

Hopefully I will be back up to speed by next week.

I want to give you something

Today is Sunday Toon day but I don't feel well enough to post a picture. I was originally going to post about sad things, but after I read this on Mercedes' blog last night I thought I would post about it instead. After all, I'm sure you would much rather read how to get your hands on a free gift than read about how sad life is for me at the moment.
Ok, so the deal is this. The first five people to comment on this blog will get something made by me! Yay! How can you resist. :) There are rules however.
Rule #1: I decide what to make you. You have no input in the decision whatsoever and there is no guarantee that you will like what I make.
Rule #2: I have until December to send it to you (December 2009 I assume).
Rule #3: You have to offer the same deal on your blog (or myspace or facebook or wherever you hang out on the web). You have to be prepared to offer to make gifts for five people who respond to you message.
Rule #4: If you have already done this, you don't have to do it again in order to comment. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity apparently.
So, what do you say?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Can I call it a Hat Trick???

I love the people over at Sam's Dot Publishing, I really do, especially The Boortean Ambassador, Terrie Leigh Relf. My micro fiction 'In a Galaxy Far Far Away' has been awarded First Place in the upcoming Drabbler #14, due out in April.
Now, that means I've been published in the Drabbler #12, had two stories in the Drabbler #13 and now will have the first place story in Drabbler #14!
I really do love those guys.

Spot the Inkpot

This is a Meteor Commercial I was in a couple of years ago. I don't know if you've seen it before, but I thought you might find it amusing. I'm the girl coming out of the door and taking the main character's hands. The story for the ad was that we had been in school together and he was travelling around Ireland meeting up with all his old school buddies. We were a diverse lot in that class, don't you think? It was a two week shoot, perhaps it was three, but I was only needed for two days. It was lots of fun and the people involved with the production were really nice. Out of the two days I was there about thirty minutes involved actually filming my tiny scene (and they spent all day filming, from 6am until well into the evening). We did a couple of takes, mostly concerning me being more or less excited as I recognised my old friend. My favourite take, after being told to be more excited, was when I yelled 'You've come back - I still have the wedding dress!' and jumped on the man. Everyone laughed. Hee hee. Another thing of note about the shoot was that we came across a car accident on our way to the location. I was in a mini van with one of the other actors (the man on the fishing boat) and several of the production crew and it was pretty early in the morning. The roads were very twisty and narrow and a light rain was misting down. We turned a bend in the road and came upon the accident. A young woman, driving towards us, had turned the corner too fast, clipped her tyre on a stone at the side of the road and flipped her car onto the roof, blocking the road. It had happened only moments before we arrived on the scene. Thankfully, she wasn't hurt. However, the two things that stayed with me from the incident - 1. Be very careful driving on the narrow country roads and 2. The charity of the people I was with who phoned the authorities, offered to use the production tow truck to move the car and stayed with the woman until her family arrived to look after her. That really impressed me.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Drabbler #13

The Drabbler #13, containing TWO of my micros is now available from Sam Dot's Publishing. The theme for this edition was Alien Magic. One of my stories does have an illustration, but I'm not really sure if it has anything to do with what I wrote. You'll have to buy it and let me know what you think.

Yes, Aliens got me

Hello all. I'm back - sort of. I apologise for the two weeks - er - vacation. I would like to be able to tell you that I've spent the last two weeks:-
1. In London discussing a six figure book deal with my agent and publishers
2. On a closed set of the next Firefly movie
3. Holidaying with Nathan Fillion
4. Imprisoned by aliens from Alpha Centuri
But alas, no. The real reason is not so pleasant to talk about, but includes illness and loss. I won't bore you with the details.
Thank you for the lovely comments while I was away. It will take me awhile to get back to you all and to check up on your blogs (which I have missed) so please bear with me. I'm looking forward on catching up and finding out what you have all been up to.
SSQuo - I'm sorry I wasn't around to receive your orders. I'm ready and waiting for the new batch.
Oh, and today is Friday 13th, the second one we've had so far this year. Spooky! So, do you think 13 is a lucky or unlucky number? I've never felt superstitious about it. Black cats and walking under ladders don't bother me (although if you do the latter you might get splattered with paint or soap suds, depending who is up the ladder). I have a friend who was born on Friday 13th and she sees it as her lucky day. What do you think? Is it a tuck your head under the duvet kind of day (sounds good to me) or is it business as usual?