Who do you write to?

Working on the big re-write. Nothing new there I hear you gasp. Well, for this rewrite I have been plugging in. iTunes at the ready. And was wondering who do you write to? What music inspires the most words?

I find The Kings of Leon awesome to get the beat moving, but sometimes I find myself focusing on my favourite words in my ears rather than that on the page. Muse are good because there aren’t too many words. Adele is lovely. Oddly, I can’t write to REM.

Hozier's new album

What are the best tunes that inspire you? I have a lot of re-writing to do so your inspiration could soon be mine!

The final word?


So, I haven’t been very active on here lately…looking at the dates its been longer than lately…Funnily enough I have been doing the real writing. Which is good, right?

It’s funny, when you’ve been so enmeshed in a story, when the world is real beneath your feet, a world with people and buildings and weather, that it becomes hard to leave it, to subtract words, to lay the pen down and be done. But it’s done. Done. Done. Done. Until the re-write at least.




It’s not like I’m obsessed or anything. It’s like a hobby, watching Adam is my hobby. It distracts me from the ugly things in my life. The softening edges of my used-be friends, the classes preparing me for my destiny, my father’s continued distance.

The sadness swirls around me in a form I can almost touch; sometimes I want to draw it into me, to let it engulf me, to surrender myself to it and drift away. Usually I fight it.

Danny helped. His hug was a searing flame of happiness that I could feel for over a week.

Adam’s soft thanks for helping him, for bringing him home.

I’m anchored now away from it, but. I can see that Adam is not going to survive. It’s as if being so close to the veil has revealed some things with perfect clarity, we are just playing a game with a fixed ending. None of us are destined to survive, if surviving even counts.

What’s in a voice

So The Preacher’s Boy has hit another iteration-a rewrite of magnificent proportions-a change of voice.

“can you procrastinate any more?”

I hear you ask…possibly not, but this rewrite has made it better.

“What’s in a voice?”

A hell of a lot…first person strips away the need to frame assumptions, it gives you the right to name a feeling…rather than listing all the reasons why…but of course, disturbingly, it was not a single change I made, but a triple, 2 first person voices and a third…not so sure it works.

Not so sure I’ve ever seen it work.

Anyone ever seen a variation of multiple voices working before? Or are we going to have to make a first?

To Lent or not to Lent?

It’s possibly a distinctly Irish thing but just might be my Kerry roots showing, this weekend was dominated by talk of Lent, and breaking Lent (I was tricked into breaking Lent on Ash Wednesday by a FREE piece of Rocky Road!)

So to keep my mammy happy, and in a desperate effort to appease the gods of literature…this year’s Lenten Campaign will be a “taking-up” effort…not mass, not the quiet solitude of contemplation, and certainly not anything healthy…this year for Lent I am going to get back to my blog!

I’m sure the religious community will be up-in-arms…although I’m pretty sure they don’t follow me so I’m safe!

The blog-blocker…the ‘what am I trying to do’, the premise, the theme that every good piece of online diarying is mean to have, is still missing here…Any suggestions on the whole point of this online diary will be heartily read and counted or discounted as appropriate. The only thing I’m sure of is that I want this to be for readers, rather than writers!!

And sure it’s a quick enough run-in to Easter!!

Bitesize Vampire Story

Catch up on the earlier chapters here

Chapter Three:

For some reason Father’s car wasn’t rattling anymore. It might have been the extra weight in front. Vlad shared a seat with mum’s spirit, or ghost or whatever it was that Father thought he saw.

It only took two words from Vlad and she was displaced and he was directing Father through the dark, snowy streets. Essie and I stared hard out at the shapes lurking through the fogged-up glass but they meant nothing to us.

Mo wasn’t even looking. He fiddled with the straps on his backpack. Eleven years of possessions sat in the small bag on his lap.

click here for the rest of Bitesize Vampire Story.

Word Idol


In West Cork, accompanied by the rolling waves, there’s a concentration of literary types. The draw to the West of Ireland can be found in the incredible beauty and the ruggedness of the land. Those of us with creation in our genes sometimes subscribe heavily to superstitious notions. That surrounding yourself with beauty can make you create something beautiful is not the most outlandish leap that has ever been made. And so, I found myself, on a random Tuesday in July in the Maritime Hotel in Bantry, waiting on Writer’s Idol to begin.

Sometimes gimmicks work, sometimes they breathe fresh and interesting life into weary bones, and sometimes they are just gimmicks. Not sure yet where this one falls. That it was, or has been, is a solid truism to which I can cling. And truth is a type of certainty on a day when the fundamentals of my belief have taken a hammering.

It all started so well. Kate Thompson, Anita Shreve, Marianne Gunn-O’Connor and Suzanne Baboneau took the stage and the rules were explained:

It is a game. Your work would be read by the accomplished and amazing Kate, the others would judge. Two raised hands and the critique could be given. It was anonymous feedback. No one would know who you were unless you started crying. A muted titter at this. A thick skin has always been required for writing. And due to time constraints not all entries might be read out.

And the readings began with Kate Thompson painting a myriad of worlds with her tongue. She was respectful of each typed page, whether the reading survived the length of one, double-spaced page, or was halted with hastily upturned hands after the third cliché in the opening five words.

I always thought that heart pounding, blood thundering through your ears was a much abused description until I heard a famous voice start my opening. The words. My words. Ringing around the audience. Alive. The Americans beside me, they surely can’t hear my heart, feel how the chair is rocking with the force of my thundering blood. They are not being scorched by the flame in my cheeks. I watch Anita Shreve nod her head (appreciatively I think) at a sentence of which I am particularly proud. This is going okay.

Then BOOM. Two hands shoot up. POV change. It jarred. That’s it. Dismissal. Anita Shreve did say she’d have to read on, to see if the author (that’s me…Anita Shreve is talking about my work, for a mili-second perhaps, but still…) was accomplished enough to handle POV shifts. It is a scant balm. With 75 words to go, one final paragraph and I’ve fallen before the finish. I know (well at least I thought I knew) that I could handle POV shifts. Now I am not so sure. To learn sometimes is to unlearn. Do I look at it all again. Review and rework, or trust myself. It is hard to know if I am clinging to some hastily added appendage to a critical dismissal. Were her words spoken to soften an edge or with truthful intent? At least I am given this crumb. Later there are a few almost instant dismissals. No softening. There are two, maybe three that make it the whole way to the end. And the final summation from Marianne Gunn-O’Connor is that there was nothing original about the works she had heard today. No voice raised above all the rest. But she did admit that she had read the first fifteen pages of “Fifty Shades…” and decide not to represent the author, that there was nothing in it that appealed to her. That she still hadn’t finished the first book. (Respect from me at this).

And then it was over, more or less.

It was strange. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. My heart isn’t broken that I didn’t finish the race. But it is cracked. The ease at which the panellists dismissed the words, it was shocking. I can now imagine an editor (or agent) hitting a word that they don’t like and dropping the page as instantly as the hands shot up. It was shocking, but perhaps it was the visual that that entire room full of writers needed. That no one will massage you into a writer. That no one will tease the inspiration from your fingers and shape it into a book that someone will buy. Writers are a dime a dozen (to coin a cliché), even the good ones, and we need to bring something unique, and wonderful, and amazing to the market, and then be brilliant with it.

It was depressing really. Like when a final finishes with a draw and the supporters file out of the stadium knowing that they left it behind them on the day. Sometimes clichés are things to fall back on when your best words fail.

The Colour of Words

I’ve just finished reading Malorie Blackman’s excellent Noughts & Crosses. It is a book that was on my reading list for a long time, and it was my little sister who finally inspired me to pick it up.

Little sister usen’t be the read-y type, she is more the music-y type (or should that be musical, because she is TALENTED). But little sister is now an English teacher, and she had to vet Noughts & Crosses for her school library. It blew her away, the fact that plasters in Blackman’s world came only in one skin tone, this captured her imagination in the way that every author hopes that their writing can change perception. My 25-year-old sister is now more aware in her day-to-day life of the nuances of power that can be derogatory, not just based on skin-tone, but on religion and ethnicity as well. Being a ‘Paddy’ in London has helped this awareness too, but now she has begun to question how access and attitude to education in the formative years can make or break a societal class…she has seen first-hand in the classroom what wealth and power mean and Malorie’s book has allowed her to contextualise what she has witnessed and how it will shape her students’ futures.

For me the startling point was the voice…beyond the Prologue each chapter is told in first person point of view, alternating so you get to hear each of the characters progress the story…the voice, the narrative tone from inside the character’s own heads had no colour, unless you saw their reflections in the mirror through their own eyes you would not guess at the colour of their skin. And I think that this is Malorie Blackman’s point (but feel free to correct me). That people sound the same on the inside. Malorie flipped the world that we know on its head. To challenge our views by presenting us with our world from an entirely different perspective. And she did this very successfully. Knife Edge and Checkmate are next.

Have you read these books? What did you think? How would you classify these in the Young Adult age bracket (completely trying to define where The Preacher’s Boy sits so feel free to ignore this question 🙂 )

On the twitterati trail…

Okay, so I’m not great with twitter. I understand the concept of it. I know how it works technically, it’s just, well…I’m not the sort of person who can just jump into the middle of a conversation with a:

“hey there, I’m @babyfacedpreach and here are the gazillion reasons that you are going to want to follow me.”

Most of the people I know think its great because it gives them immediate access to people…CEO’s and celebs and the like…personally I’m not that much bothered by CEOs and celebs, when I meet one in real life I don’t have the overwhelming urge to slip into the seat across from them and say ‘hi’, or spend seventy million hours trying to come up with one witty line so that they’ll remember me (not having the advantage of seeing my outstanding good-looks :/ on the twitter machine).

So I’m struggling. With the follows and the followers. With the tentative hello’s and the subtext that I know I am missing. This bothers me, because in real life I pride myself on being able to read a situation, I have this sense for body language and the pitch and tone of voice that gives me insights into the person who I’m dealing with. In the faceless toneless world (well except for the lol’s and :D) I am missing a sense, and I while I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it is crippling me, I do think I am much less comfortable without it.

In my six weeks of getting up and running I am finding a rhythm of sorts…I’m only following people of interest to me. This great ‘epiphany’ has only happened in recent forays on the phone (my primary medium)…if your profile tweaks my interest then I’m yours for the following.  This of course will horrify my marketing masters (the wonderful Kevin and Ciaran of BeCreative‘s diploma in eBook Publishing) because follower = sales, or something…

I am at once naive and innocent of the world of sales, my ‘Preacher’s Boy’ is for YA, 15+, but I’m not going to blanket follow this age bracket and pepper them with commentary that is not true to me, just to keep their interest. It will probably be my downfall, but even with a convenient nome de plume and the protection of the Babyfacedpreacher and @babyfacedpreach I still can’t abandon the core of who I am, my fundamental essence seeps into everything that I am, and I can’t forsake myself to become to people something that I am not.

And of course I am a talker, so now that I have twitter and have selected ‘friends,’ I am not going to machine tweet a sales pitch. And already making this decision has paid off. I have met people, rather than accounts,  I have been able to widen my circle beyond what is available or accessible here, in Ireland.  I can follow the people I admire and watch how they live their online lives. I can seek the emulate the ones that most closely map to my world view.

And off-line I’ve started to have more interesting encounters now too (not that this is in any way related to twitter but there is a shared point I promise). On Friday I went to my first Civil Ceremony Reception. The grooms were radiant, the food was amazing, the drink was flowing, and like every Irish Wedding (I apologise to anyone who takes offence at calling it a wedding, but for me it was – hopefully the legislation will catch up soon) there were old folk jiving, and the speeches, gosh the speeches, they were funny, and poignant and witty and full of love and committment, and heartbreakingly honest. And in my drunken zen in the taxi on the way home I realised that the day had not been the slightest bit weird, only beautiful, and it was because it was people getting married, people who I knew were deeply in love, people who I admire and respect getting married, and there was only happiness from me, because they had found love and they had found each other…I’m not really a drunken crier, and this realisation did not stymie me to tears, but it catches at the throat, because it was something that rings true for me. That it is the honesty in the relationships that is important, not who the relationship is with, and not what you get up to behind closed doors, but once the relationship is fulfilling, and mutually edifying, and that it is a love that builds up not tears down.

So honesty in relationships, honesty in love, honesty in your dealings with others, honesty with yourself. That’s all that I ask of myself of my friendships and that’s all I’ll try to give.

A picture for a story

Just to explain the header picture. My better half took it, on a bridge in Agra a couple of years ago. We had spent the day at the Taj and Baby Taj. Being wowed by the guide at the breadth of architecture this city had to offer.

We thought, with two weeks in India already passed, that we had become immune to the starkness of poverty and the inexplicable guilt at our easy lives, but…

…The Taj is marvellous, a massive, swarming melee of tourists. Bricks that shine in the heat, that seem to glow against the hazy backdrop. The ultimate expression of love and devotion…who would want an engagement ring, a blood-y diamond, when a mausoleum was on offer.

The grandeur, the coiffed gardens, the sparkly fountains, the illusion of peace and tranquility…and then, you pass the queuing crowds,  you slip into your car (chauffeur driven, of course) and back into the world. The world outside the walls. You wonder have you gone back in time 500, or 5000 years? No. There are motorcycles astride the mules, tuk tuks and camels sharing the bridge. There are lives being lived beneath the shadow of the walls.

It is a wonder alright, the Taj, but one of the greatest wonders I have seen (and I’ve clocked up a few at this point), is the contrast of opulence and poverty sharing the simple shade of  bricks. It may be fitting that the worlds biggest tombstone is beside what seems the worlds most likely grave, it may be fitting but it is not fair.

And that’s what I feel those eyes are saying, those intense eyes looking out through me. How can life fall this way? How can the cards be stacked thus? How can fate choose such a hand and deem it equal. And what part in all this do we, ourselves, play?