26 February 2010

Soon to be 100 Posts #5

Five is the number of posts that MM has written, as opposed to my 94 published posts, two drafts, and one scheduled post.

On another note, as I want to make this post a tad longer, I will list five blogs that I think have really cool and curious names (curious as in arouses one's curiosity).

#1 Ramblings of the Bearded One

#2 she left on a monday

#3 A Thousand Clapping Hands

#4 Confessions of a Junkyard Cat

#5 The Hermitage

Just a note about these blogs...I follow quite a few blogs, but four of these blogs I ALWAYS read when something new is posted. Also, I really like all of these blogs, not just their names, though their names are pretty cool. Lastly, I found two or three of these in Blogs of Note, and they are quite popular. I'm willing to attribute quite a large part of that popularity to their names :D

24 February 2010

Soon to be 100 Posts #7

Seven authors that I admire or that somehow, even in a small way (but a conscious (rather than unconscious/subconscious) way) influence my writing. (That has to do with me, just like I said it would.. even if I digress a bit from the original intent)

#1 Robert Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance*)

#2 George Orwell (1984*)

#3 Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice*)

#4 William Golding (Lord of the Flies*)

#5 John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath*)

#6 Anthony Horowitz...just to show that I do read normal books too :D (The Switch*..bought the only one I can think of at the moment, I haven't read his most recent/popular contributions)

#7...Finally, Edgar Allen Poe (The Tell-Tale heart (Short story)...his stories and poems never fail to creep me out and fascinate me, and that could be where the horror theme slips in somewhere...

* The book I admire them for/ the only book of theirs I have read

23 February 2010

Soon to be 100 Posts #8

Hmm. A list of eight...
How about eight pictures I haven't shown you?

#1...Can you see the maniacal gleam in that bird's eye?

#2...A cross at the beach, put there as a memorial to some children who found a ball washed up and shore and began to play with it not knowing until too late that it was an unexploded mine.

#3...A flock of birds flying over the water, doubled by their reflections.

#4...The eye of a sweet horse we saw one day.

#5...I liked the way the rocks looked, the ones in the back as though they didn't belong, out of place.

#6...Two pictures that count as one...the first a honeycomb of sand that we saw while traipsing the shore...odd isn't it? The second a view down into a tidal pool/tidal streamy thing which looks like it was taken in Florida or somewhere instead of Ireland.

#7...A bird in flight in Kilarney.

#8...Lastly, but not leastly, a ram in Connemara.

22 February 2010

Magpie Tales #2...The Perfect Match

She holds the match vertical, and waits for the flame to die out. When the last glint of light has disappeared, she throws the charred stick into the cold fireplace.
With a sharp flick of her wrist, she lights another match and draws it close to her face.
The soft yellow light makes her dark eyes gleam. She smiles, not in a friendly way, and tilts the match to its side.
The flame flickers out.
The small room is plunged into darkness again.
The soft scuttle of vermin starts, momentarily paused by the hypnotizing flame.
She wrinkles her nose. The smell of damp penetrates everything.
She leans against the crumbling wall. This isn't her house, she just crawled in for the night. Truth be told though, it isn't any better here than outside. Outside are the stars and the moon, the smell of open space, and the warmth left by the scorching sun after its departure.
But by night all manner of things descend on the quiet countryside. Creatures that fill the clear, rainless dark with whispers that seem to come from all directions and howls that stretch to the moon and back.
She lights another match.
The empty fireplace seems like an abyss that she could fall into without warning.
She hunches against the farthest wall.
The spark of another match casts her shadow, ebony black and towering, toward the small doorway.
She lets it burn down to her fingers, then tosses it to the ground.
There might have been a candle in the first room, but it is too late to go out there now. The night has cloaked the house with a gossamer veil, and she is safe only in this room.

Outside, a wolf creeps close to the house. It presses its snout against a dirt-encrusted window. A small glow is visible for second, then it disappears. The wolf waits. Soon a bright flash abrades its eyes and then the comforting glow returns.
The wolf crosses to the front door. It is battered wood, and has a simple latch on the inside. The wolf rises onto its hind legs and scratches at the door.
From the surrounding forest, a chorus of howls heralds his action. The door collapses inward and the wolf traipses confidently inside.

She fumbles for another match. With a sinking heart she realises that this is the last one. She positions her hands close to the match box, ready to strike the final match.

The wolf sniffs the rotting floorboards. His paws pick his next move before his mind registers it.

She stiffens, listening to the soft breathing of the wolf, and the click of its nails against the floor as it approaches.

The wolf continues, its head held high, no longer needing to sniff the ground to determine its path.

She freezes as the wolf peers around the door frame. She brings the match close to the box and closes her eyes.

The wolf shrinks back as a bright flash lights up the room.

She opens her eyes. The wolf is sitting just inside the room, its gaze intent on the match. She looks down at it. The flame is still large, but the matchstick isn't burning. She opens her mouth in amazement.

The wolf lies down, its head resting on its paws, eyes still captivated by the flame.

She holds her finger over the flame, and jumps back as it is burned. Carefully she places the match into the fireplace.
Instantly a fire fills it, the abyss now a welcoming blaze.

The fire lights up the room. It is not as dirty and in such ill repair as she thought it was. The wolf is no dangerous hellhound but a shaggy sheep dog.

She picks up the match box to throw it in the fire, but pauses.

The match box is full again.

She sets it back onto the mantel, in the same position as she found it earlier that afternoon. She will move on in the morning, and sometime in the future, someone else in need will find the house and the matches.

She smiles at the thought.

Soon to Be 100 Posts #9

Nine Reasons Why I am Glad I Will Reach 100 Posts

#1 It proves that I can accomplish/complete something if I put my mind to it, even if it gets tedious at times

#2 I am still attracting blog traffic.

#3 I have used the blog as a creative outlet at times, and I am glad I am writing more frequently

#4 I can look back at all my previous posts and see how far I've come, blog experience wise and just plain ol' experience wise

#5 When I Google my name there are lots of results, thanks almost entirely to this blog and various comment on other blogs

#6 Authors/novelists should have a blog, as they need to keep up with the current technology for reaching out to readers, and when I publish my first novel (hopefully in a few years or sooner) I will already have one...

#7 I have examples of my work and my personality that anyone interested in my writing or me as a writer can see.

#8 I have taken more photographs, and posted them ( most of them not half bad) than I would have had I not had the blog...sometimes taking photogrpahs specifically for a post, sometimes moulding a post around a photograph, sometimes just being able to find the right photograph to put into a post

#9 Lastly, I am glad that I reached (will reach) 100 posts because I am connecting with all sort of people all over the world. I could have given up at any time but I didn't and now look what I have achieved

21 February 2010

Soon to be 100 Posts #10

In ten more posts (aka ten more days...hopefully), I will have reached my one hundredth post.
While I could hope for more readers/followers, I am pretty satisfied with my achievements to date.
My blog will be one year old this July, and I am glad that it has not taken me that long to get one hundred posts, even though the blog was supposed to be daily.

Ten Reasons Why I thought I Would Never Get 100 Posts...

#1 I have a short attention span, and not a lot of determination (depending)

#2 For the longest while, no one read my blog, and still hardly anyone does (never consistently)

#3 I have hardly any free time due to bad habits such as watching television, and going on the internet (Facebook, games, etc.)

#4 I thought I would run out of ideas of things to post about

#5 My posts were (are) very long...so I used up a lot of ideas in one post

#6 I posted infrequently...sometimes I went for amost a month between posts (good thing for a daily blog, eh?)

#7 I spent a lot of time reading other people's blogs and being envious of their followers/good posts instead of working on my own

#8 After a while, I got tired of the name of the blog, but couldn't change it (because of the url), so I didn't want to post

#9 I had loads of good ideas for posts, but always forgot them...even when I started making a list of them

#10 And lastly... I never thought I would get one hundred posts because I sometimes wasn't all that in to the blog, and I usually desert things that I'm not all that in to.

20 February 2010


I wanted to share my birthday card from MM and DD because it is so pretty :D (I got it awhile ago BTW)

I love the woman, the pink is so nice, and it has a little black ribbon on the side!

Plus, the inside has a polka-dot border!

My favourite thing about it is the woman's skirt.

19 February 2010


I suppose I like to think of myself as a sentimentalist, but the truth is, I'm not.
I keep little trinkets and reminders of things, but I can't help feeling that I'm keeping them for the sake of sentimentality rather than for sentimentality, if you get what I mean.
Then, other times, I think I am a hopeless sentimentalist. I know I am a pack rat, but I like to think that I could just leave it all behind if I had to.

In the picture (or in my collection) there are:

11 various bus tickets, including two for the bus journey to Logan airport in Boston from Portland, Maine. And two from my very first bus journey in Ireland.

12 cinema tickets, two of which are from cinemas in Maine.

2 airline stickers from my plane journey here, along with 1 plane ticket.

A geode we bought at the Glengowla Mines in Galway, along which a packet of rocks we sifted for in the sand (while being eaten alive by midges).

A wedding invitation (the red flower) from friends of ours who were our neighbours in Maine, and now have a baby.

2 tickets to the speech at Harvard (Connecticut) which J.K Rowling gave to graduating students, also 2 programmes for the same and 2 Charlie tickets (for the subway) which we used for part of our journey there.

A ribbon I got for my birthday from the school I used to attend.

A map of a hill-walk in the Connemara National Park.

2 tickets to an open-air play we saw at King John's Castle, Limerick, along with 2 small coins that are made there.

A picture of me and my friends at my 12th birthday party.

A coaster from a pub in Dublin.

A feather from a very unforgettable trip to the Dan O'Hara Homestead at the Connemara Heritage and History Centre. I tried to feed the chickens and got pricked by a nettle. At least I got the feather though.

A large wooden heart (pink) which DD used to make.

A stone.

2 American passports which have expired or are going to expire this summer and 1 Irish passport (put there for safe keeping) which is current.

A postcard from MM which she sent about three years ago.

4 diaries (all locked) in various stages of fullness.

Lots of scraps of paper about lots of different things.

So...maybe I am a bit of a sentimentalist after all.

18 February 2010


Remember this?

I'll refresh your memory (just kidding, I know you didn't read it in the first place).

"That's my ambition. When I Google my name, only the top three results actually concern me. I can't help thinking it would be really cool to have the whole page of results concern me (I think I have it set to show ten results per page, that's like ten results that concern me, if I want the whole page)."

Well I did it! I don't remember exactly when , but definitely a while ago. Now the whole first page concerns men! And there is one listing on the second page that is about me too. Very cool!

It helps having a very unique name.

EDIT: Now (June 2010) three or so pages have results all about me, while I am mentioned as far as page thirteen of results.

17 February 2010


Sometimes I wonder if all this online promotion doesn't just take time away from writing. I mean, is there ever enough time in the day?

Don't get me wrong, I really like blogging (and I actually classify it as writing, because I do use creative thought while posting).
But how could one person possibly keep up with Blogger, Twitter, and Facebook? Not to mention if you had a YouTube account, or anything else.

If you spend time updating all of those, and writing, when do you go outside to get some fresh air? When do you eat? When do you take a break? What if you don't write full time!? When do you do your day job (or go to school in my case)?

There is just so much!

16 February 2010

Magpie Tales #1...The Pewter Creamer

Martha liked to pretend it had once poured honey, like in those ads for some perfume or other, where the Greek goddess was dripping with it.
Honey keeps almost forever, she knew. Once it was found in an Egyptian tomb...still edible. It must be because of the bees.
Her bees, now, they were something of another world. Martha was a careful bee-keeper, but she did not believe in wearing a veil or bee-keeping suit when she visited them.
When she first saw them, when she was only five, she had come home covered in stings.
Her father had shouted at her, but she could not tell if it was out of worry for her or concern for the bees. Maybe he thought she had let them loose?
That was the final straw, when her mother finally decided that it was enough.
Strange, she thought, her mother would hate it if she knew Martha had picked up bee-keeping just where her father had left off.
He had died three years ago, twenty-two years after her mother had been put in that place. He had been stung three thousand times. She knew, she had counted every sting. No one knew he had died, just her.
She buried him near the bees.
Every day she visited the bees, taking careful count of the dead ones. It seemed that they died so often. She knew that there were now exactly two thousand nine hundred seventy-five bees in the hives.
She supposed when she was ready to die that they would send her on her way just as they had her father.
It was a fair exchange. The bees had kept her father alive far too long. She was already seventy-seven, and he had been over one hundred when he died.
Every day at three o'clock she took three tablespoons of the bees' honey, carefully stored in a glass jar over the fireplace. She put it into the pewter creamer and then warmed it slowly over the fire, just as her father had taught her. Then a splash of milk, carefully calculated, but unmeasured. Lastly, a pinch of cinnamon.
She drank it in exactly two and a half minutes, no longer, no sooner.
Then she took a nap for two hours.
She couldn't say she felt a day over thirty, maybe even younger.
The ritual puzzled her though. Was it the simple preparation or the honey itself that gave her this energy?
She decided to test it.
After all, one day without the miracle mixture could hardly kill her, could it?
She prepared the mixture as usual, but instead used honey purchased from the store. She drank it, and went to take her nap.
Three minutes after she had fallen asleep she was woken by a buzzing.
This was not an unusual sound to her, for she visited the bees every day. Yet she knew something was wrong. She never woke from her nap until exactly two hours after it had begun.
Martha sat up in bed. It was dark.
Her window was open, a cool breeze teased the curtains.
She stood up.
She sank back down again. Her knees felt weak and her head was spinning. She rose more slowly this time, holding on to the headboard.
She inched closer to the window. She couldn't see, but she blamed the darkness. She reached out toward the wall.
Her hand connected with a living being.
Martha screamed.
The wall was coated in bees. She rubbed her hand against her night gown but yanked it back again. It too was covered in the buzzing, writhing mass of bees.
She reached for her face. She tried to pry her eyes open. It was then she realised that her whole body was covered in bees.
She ran into the sitting room, her knees almost giving way. She stepped toward the fireplace, only to have her bare foot connect with a carpet of bees.
Martha screamed again. This time she knew it was hopeless.
She tried to find the fire poker, she had left the fire to die down, it was probably still hot. Her foot felt as though it had been thrown into a furnace.
The floor was covered in hot coals.
Martha stopped moving.
She stood shaking in the middle of the room.
She could hear the bees buzzing.
Was this how her father had died?
She reached out for anything to fight them with.
Her hand touched the cool pewter of the creamer.
She swung it in the air, hearing the swoosh as it flew. Then a small ding. She had hit a bee!
She swung it again with renewed vigour, rejoicing in the soft *pings*.
Martha opened her eyes. All around her the ground was littered with dead bees.
She collected them all. There were only two thousand nine hundred seventy-five, not the huge overwhelming army she had pictured.
She lit a fire and threw them into it.
Martha inhaled the sickly smell of the burning bees.
When they were all gone, she carefully filled the pewter creamer with the bees' ashes.
The next day, Martha's niece found her body near the bee hives. There were exactly two thousand nine hundred seventy-five stings covering her body. Martha's niece buried her there, next to the hives.
Then she went inside and took a drink.
It was three o'clock.
She poured three tablespoons of the bees' honey into the pewter creamer and then warmed it slowly over the fire, just as Martha had taught her. Then she added splash of milk and a pinch of cinnamon.
She drank it in exactly two and a half minutes, no longer, no sooner.
Then she took a nap for two hours.
When she woke up, she thought to herself that her grandmother would have been very angry if she knew that she was following in Martha's footsteps.
Then she went out and visited the bees.

Note: I have absolutely no idea where this story came from! First of all, I was going to write about the origin of the pewter creamer, not a story where it just features. Secondly, I never write horror stories (I must admit, I frightened myself a bit on this one). Thirdly, where did the bee-keeping idea come from????

I changed the picture a bit from the one willow provided for Magpie Tales. (BTW, I am #45).

After one read through, I have realised that unintentionally I have made the pewter creamer the most important aspect of the story! It is the thing that kept Martha's father alive! And it is why the bees returned (resurrected) and were able to kill Martha! I cannot believe my subconscious mind did that.

The variety in posts abut the creamer is endless! Some are funny, some are poetic, some are funny and poetic. Some are sort of tragic and some haven't been posted yet. I look forward to reading the rest of them.

Old Book Smell

Wow, I am actually writing this four days ago, that's how caught up with posts I am!

I am trying to make the posts more daily (like that's gonna happen), so while I am in the mood for writing (and home alone with the cat), I am writing post-dated posts.

I think that the internet is very useful, but I hope everything doesn't become more virtual reality than real reality. I still want to read real books with real pages and read real magazines.

Speaking of real books, I was reading (in Writing Magazine) that scientists have actually determined what exactly, that "old book smell" is. Apparently it is "like grass, with a tang of acidity and a hint of vanilla."

I wonder if they will try to add it to the e-readers, like they are going to add sound to electric cars?
Will they make sure the book is (five, ten years?) old before adding the smell, so that a new book will not smell, or will smell like a new book?

Isn't that a bit over the top? (They probably won't go that far...hopefully)

According to the article, the smell of the book could eventually help determine (Hah! Queen Elizabeth spilt tea on THIS one) the book's history.

Note: If any of you eagle-eyed people noticed the selection of books, I have to plead my innocence on some counts. First of all, it you noticed that I own Breaking Dawn, I have to say, that is the ONLY Twilight book I own, and I am in no way a Twilight Groupie. Besides that, about the only other book you can determine is Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. Well, I really like Dan Brown's books, no excuses there. Thirdly, if you were actually there, at my bookshelf, you would notice other more redeeming books such as The Grapes of Wrath, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Pride and Prejudice, and the Holy Bible (that last one is not because I am a Catholic/Christian).

15 February 2010


Musing is funny word. If you think about it, it has to have derived from muse, but why would one need to muse when one has a muse?

Just a thought.

I found out (*looked up*) something interesting, though random, that I will share.

I was wondering about the staple the other day, so I looked it up. Turns out it has been around for a loooong time.

The earliest mention of a staple is from the 1700's! Apparently, it was invented for the then present king of France (King Louis XV), and was encrusted with jewels and made of gold.

However, the proles could not use these wonderful little buggers until about 1877. That's when Henry R. Heyl applied for a patent ("Improvement in devices for inserting metallic staples"), that paved the road for the modern stapler.

In fact, the term 'stapler' was not commonly used until as late as 1920 (though it was first used in a patent in 1887).

One more thing: Did you know that surgical staples are actually shaped like 'M's and form a rectangle when used, rather than the straight line of more traditional staples?

14 February 2010

Themes and Musings

When I am writing, I don't really have an intention. That is, I don't consciously make an effort to include any deeper meanings, nor do I (mostly) pre-choose a theme.

However, I find when I view my writing from an objective eye, it seems to be much better than I felt it to be whilst I was writing it.
Maybe I can pretend someone else wrote it (in fact, that IS what I do).

When someone reads it out, I pretend it is someone's else's work, and to my amazement, find that it is really good.

I think I have mentioned before, though no harm in saying again, that people seem to read deeper into what I write, and find themes and such. And I have said that I think perhaps it is my subconscious that includes these themes and deeper meanings, metaphors, etc.

Well, I actually like that. I think it is really cool, because it gives my writing so much more depth than I had intended. I can't seem to consciously write like that, though my last story did have an encoded message in the first letter of every paragraph (purposely).

13 February 2010

The Sea Vista

I am extremely frustrated at the moment because we have no batteries (so no camera).

For the past three day there has been the most lovely scene as I wait for the bus:

A pink sunrise glows just above the blurred-by-cloud mountains of the Burren, and a tree is silhouetted against it, its branches and trunk black against the sky. Just to the left of the tree, the crescent moon shines in the slightly blue and very clear sky. The sea which separates the mountains from here is smooth as glass, and indigo.

How could I not photograph it?

I was going to wake up early to do so, but no batteries.


09 February 2010

Working on Words

DD helped me cut down a synopsis (for a competition) from 643 words to 500 words. He was astonished that it could be done. I felt everything that was in the synopsis needed to be there, and worked well in the first place. But we did it.

Which brings me to a point I feel I should make. The misconception that writing short pieces rather than longer ones is easier.
It's not.
Sometimes it is harder.

I'm not saying that, for instance, writing a short story is harder than writing a novel. However, it has been said that novel writing is much easier than script writing.

Sometimes when a short story word limit is 1000 words it's easier than if it was 5000. But equally, if it was 2000 that might be easier than 1000.

I just think that a lot of people (mainly people who aren't writers) think that greater length is to be admired much more than lesser length as far as word count goes. I think it is unfair especially in flash fiction for example, which is really hard to write and yet has a very small word count (somewhere between 50 and 300 words).

At the same time, if you write a novel and it is too short to be publishable, sometimes it is excruciating to lengthen it.

EDIT (JUNE 2010) I was one of the runners up in the competition.

07 February 2010

Writers are actors. Except that they get to play all the parts.

They get to write the script. And direct it.

They get to cut a role, or add a new one. They can change a character's personality utterly, or keep it.

Writers are lucky.

06 February 2010

Where I Have Been

Sometimes life overtakes work, even if that work is fun. So maybe that's not what happened to me, but at least it sounds poetic.

Today, we went to the library. When I had last gotten my work published, MM had given the librarian a copy, which she hung up. When we came in, the librarian told us that a woman had been in earlier, read the story, and had really enjoyed it. That was so cool!

And we went down to the beach, because a glorious fog had rolled in overnight and stuck around until early afternoon, and I wanted to get some good photos. We went down the nearest road, hoping to see Roisin (she's a horse). We saw her, and a pheasant! What a beautiful bird! It had a really red head, and a long tail, but it was quite skittish. I got some pics of it (and Roisin).

I got some pictures of a few spiderwebs, which MM has high hopes for, but I don't really think will work out too great. The auto-focus on the camera isn't great for macro, but I'm not expert enough to try manual focus without destroying settings that could be crucial.