The Marathon, then the Sprint

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Last week, I had the fun experience of going on a blog tour. Of course, I didn’t take my own advice for it: I set out on the tour without having time to get everything written in advance of the day it was due online. This is, largely, because of my trip to Leap Castle on Tuesday. I didn’t sleep, and so when I sat down to write again, it was Wednesday night and I hadn’t slept. Such is life.

That tour was to mark the end of my Writing Olympics, with an event-by-event guide for others to do some of the same things I did. With the book out in the world, however, I needed something else to fill my time.

Let’s put my life into context. I took a week off to write Balor Reborn, including booking time off work. I had holiday hours owed to me, so it made sense to take them. The blog tour helped to pass another week of my life. However, I’m now faced with something else entirely: impending teaching practice. This isn’t, in itself, a bad thing. Nor are the lectures due to start in college afterwards. The problem with them is that they inhibit starting a longer project that I won’t have time to commit to.

With that, I’m going from a marathon of a project like a novella in a week to something new and exciting: flash fiction. What this means is that the sequel to Balor Reborn won’t be written for some time. I need to establish a schedule once college starts, and while I would, under normal circumstances, get that book written before lectures start, I have to prepare lessons for unknown age groups, while also working on a research paper.

Life is rather full, then, if I could only get myself focused.

I had planned to get to work at eight this morning. I didn’t bother myself getting out of bed until ten. Well, I suppose staying up to watch the closing ceremony of the Olympics had something to do with that. However, it’s a disruption I canny afford on a regular basis.

I have a lot of work to do, this month. An annoying amount of work. However, that’s why I’m writing flash fiction. I need to remain creative, and while I will be attempting some longer work in the month, I can’t focus on a novella. There’s too much work in the writing process. Flash fiction is new for me, though, and it’s letting me explore some of the stories that I want to tell but don’t know how to introduce. So far, the two stories I’ve written are suitable back stories to Modern Irish Myth books, while also serving as stand-alone pieces.

I need that. I need that sprint. The stories don’t last long, and I still get a rush from writing them. It’s not the same, but the idea of sticking to under one thousand words is so fresh to me that it’s exciting. I’m hoping to stockpile on them, to stick them up for Flash Friday every week for the foreseeable future. I figure it’ll be a fun way to write some Irish myth and ghost stories in a short space of time, that can be read by people in a short space of time.

So, best get sprinting.

What about you? Do you write flash fiction? Comment below and leave a link for me to read a story you wrote.

Preparations

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For those of you who don’t follow little old me on Twitter, or who haven’t ‘liked’ my page on Facebook, or ‘circled’ me on Google+, you probably haven’t heard what madness I’m up to next. See, I like to write. I’d like to think I’m a little bit good at it. Stories are kind of a big deal for me.

So, I decided to write one in a week. A novella, in fact. On camera, live-streamed to the whole Internet. And then I’m publishing it, at the end of that week. Yes, I’m serious. I’m actually going to write and publish a novella in a week. It probably seems a bit mad. But hey, I’m not here to tell you all about that project. Not directly. You can read the press release for that here: http://paulcarrollwriter.com/balor-reborn-press-release/

What I want to talk about is the preparation stage of this project.

Let me be honest here: I don’t keep my room very tidy. I try to, but then I buy something (like a dozen books) and suddenly nothing fits anymore. So, everything ends up on the floor, and my beanbags end up in the middle of the room, and generally you need to step widely over everything. It’s a good thing I haven’t been out (drinking) much lately, or I’d probably be dead having tripped over something coming into the room.

In preparation for this ‘writing a book on camera’ stunt, I actually cleaned my room. There is literally nothing but a pair of shoes I plan on putting away that’s remotely in the way between the door and the bed. And it’s not even like it matters so much, because the camera will be pointing in such a way that no one will see any of that part of my room.

However, I’m a good little boy and I did it. My room is tidy. To make it even better, I got myself a new desk chair. It’s still in its box, because my dad wants to make sure it’s actually put together properly, instead of me falling and dying on camera in front of the whole Internet. Even if the fall didn’t kill me, I think I’d be the first person to literally die of embarrassment, whether it’s physiologically impossible or not!

So, that was another thing done. With the press release last Friday, that was Thing #3. I think I’m doing quite well. My parents are now making sure I have a kettle in the room, and an icebox for the milk, some water and my packed lunch. (Yes, I’m actually going to eat a meal-a-day on camera. The though frightens me, but not as much as losing the entire audience while I eat a sandwich.)

The last piece of preparation has been in running competitions. I’m giving away a copy of the book every day through my website. It’s fun, but it means checking in every few hours to make sure there are actually entries. I do enjoy reading them, though.

Want to enter? Please? You can see the list of them here. I’ve no idea when you’ll see this, but the current competition will be specified! http://paulcarrollwriter.com/balor/

So, four things, not counting everything my parents are doing for me. I’ve also already prepared the plan for the book – the only thing I’m allowed with me! The only other thing to do is to try organise a blog tour for post-publication, and excuse myself in advance if I don’t get to write a post next Monday. I’ll be busy, don’t you know!

Baking

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Today, I delved into the deep unknown of baking.

Lets be clear: my ability to cook anything goes as far as either putting it in the toaster, or putting it in the oven. The only thing I’ve ever made from scratch is a ham and cheese toasted sandwich. Everything else is from a packet, or heating up a dinner my mum already made. I live at home. There doesn’t seem to be a need for me to learn to cook.

But dammit, that was not going to stop me!

While baking isn’t quite the same thing as cooking, it’s a step in the right direction. I took seven ingredients, several of the instruments my mum keeps scattered around the kitchen, and I made a mess.

I also made cookies. Just so you know.

What I discovered in the process, aside from baking lessons I expressed on my food blog about this, is that baking is extremely enjoyable. Sure, I was awful at a few things, but overall it felt good doing it. It didn’t feel like work. it was even better when the cookies actually came out the way they were supposed to. It’s the same sort of thrill I get in finishing a novel, except it only took an hour. (Guess who spent twice as long in the preparation step than the recipe said it would take!)

The end result was surprisingly delicious. My family like them, they haven’t killed anyone, and they taste like more. It’s definitely something I want to keep doing, especially if it means getting some time away from the laptop. Lets be fair, I spend a lot of time on my computer without accomplishing anything.

I need to decide what to bake next time. My options include chocolate brownies, iced cupcakes, or a different type of cookie (I need to get a new recipe for that, but that shouldn’t be too difficult.) Leave your vote in the comment below. While you do that, I’ll get the kettle on.

2011 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Justin Bieber, Cards and Mass Hatred

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You know you’ve nothing good to talk about when you start talking about Justin Bieber. Let’s make this point clear: I don’t like the guy. Okay, that’s not entirely true, because I don’t know the guy. But I don’t appreciate his music, his career, or his fangirls. He sounds like a child, he looks like a child, and he might end up in North Korea. I don’t know yet. However, I don’t think he knew, until it was explained to him, that North Korea is bad. He didn’t know what Germany was, after all.

And trust me, it gets worse. Not only does he not know what Germany is, and not only does he sound and look like a child, there’s a biography of him. I think you can imagine already, it’s not that great. I haven’t read it, but I know by looking at it. It’s very thin, filled with pictures and, of course, he’s sixteen. He has a “career” in music, but that’s it. That’s all there is to Justin Bieber.

That’s not even the worst part. Someone came into my shop asking about – wait for it – the Justin Bieber magazine. A magazine! What? Seriously? He can’t do very much interesting that there’s a whole magazine about him! A hate magazine might have material in it, yes, but not one that’s Pro-Bieber. Seriously, folks, this is not cool. I have been educated in cool. Bieber is not cool. Fact.

In other news (News? Pah!), I had a lot of cards to go through today. Greeting Cards, I mean. 1026 of them. I had to firstly make sure they were all there, then I had to sort them into their different types. Following that came the removing of them from their bundles of six, and the labelling. Of 1026 cards. Some of which had glitter. I’m so glad my birthday isn’t for another few months so I don’t have to receive a card. (On that note: Happy 21st Birthday Paul B!) Okay, Christmas is actually before my birthday… but I like Christmas. I make it my goal to get cards for all my friends and write personalised messages in them. It’s fun!

As the title suggests: mass hatred. This is actually my attempt at a pun… see, it’s hatred of mass, and hatred en masse. I’ll start with the first one… I was having a deep debate about the Church with a co-worker’s sister/sister-in-law on Facebook the other night, as you do, and we’ve come to the conclusion that (a) people don’t go to mass anymore and (b) the Catholic Church needs to give women more power, or it risks collapsing. As to the other hatred…

Meath. That more or less does it for anyone in Ireland. They know what I’m talking about. Meath are fast becoming known by everyone as a cheating county. Even people who don’t care about Gaelic football give out about Meath. For those of you who aren’t aware of what happened… there was a “bit” of a problem when Meath’s Joe Sheridan scored a goal that led to Meath’s victory over Louth in the Leinster Senior Cup Final. The goal was “controversial.” From what I can tell from watching it (over and over and over again) it can be deemed a fair goal. Except that people would prefer it not to be. People are strange… I think the Irish just like controversy. After the whole “Tierry Henry is a cheating French b*****d” debacle, we’re on the lookout for more cheaters in sport.
Poor Joe Sheridan. Poor Meath. Okay, I feel sorry for Louth because they lost, but the people of Meath are getting a load of stick over this. I’ve a mate from Meath who’s still receiving abuse about it. And it was last Sunday. Thankfully he’s the sort of person who can return such abuse, but even still, it’s not fair on residents of Meath.

I think that’s me done… as you can tell, I’m not really in writing mode at the moment. This is what happens when I write ridiculous amounts of fiction. In three weeks I wrote in the region of 45K words, lost a bit of sleep over other things (including drunken phone calls, which are hilarious!) and have been going on a few adventures (including a BBQ at a lecturer’s house – we know his son quite well – and a trip to the museum). Sleepy Paul is Sleepy. 1026 stickers don’t help that. So, I bid you adieu.

Summer Has Begun…

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The stress of exams is finally behind me and I can look forward to a fun-filled summer. Summer 2K9 was good but this year is going to be AMAZING. (on a side note….what are people calling 2010? I didn’t like the whole 2k9 thing but they’re hardly calling this year 2k10??)

I say it’s going to be a great summer, and it will be, as long as I don’t have to sit any repeats in August … but I don’t think I will. Fingers crossed!

This blog is just going to consist of what I’ll be doing this summer. So here we go –

It’s starting out pretty quiet. The big news in the McLoughlin household is that my brother is leaving next week to go travelling for a year. South East Asia for a few weeks and then he’s on to Australia. I don’t think I’ll miss him much, but I will definitely miss all the money he gives me … he’s a generous brother. I have warned him though that I better not see him in an episode of ‘Banged up Abroad’ next year. I’m deadly serious about this, it would not surprise me if something like that happened.

A week after my brother’s departure I will start working for the summer. I’m a sailing instructor and I was really lucky to get a good amount of work over the next three months. I do hope the weather stays nice this year because for the last couple of years our summer’s have been pretty wet and windy.  What I’m looking forward to most is the nights out – instructor sessions are the best!

Then at the end of June I’ll be heading down to Roscommon for a weekend to stay with a friend from college. A few of us are heading down, we just don’t want to lose touch over the summer. I’ve never been to Roscommon, in fact, in terms of my travel experience in Ireland, I’ve hardly ventured outside of Dublin … shameful I know.

The rest of the summer will include work, a lot of work, as I really want to end the summer with a good bit of money to a) pay my rent next year and b) pay for my going out. I’ll also be editing my novel because I really want to have it streamlined and ready to be sent off to agents by September. I’ll be going house hunting in August with my friends from college. I’ve been having second thoughts about moving out this year as there has been a few unexpected events which have put a downer on the year but I’ve been told by my parents that I should do it anyway if that’s what i want. And i think i will. There’s also Oxygen, but I might end up giving that a miss.

So, this summer is going to be, i feel, one of the best summer’s ever! I’m going to write lots, work hard, and just have fun! What’s everyone else getting up to?

Brendan

Silence

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I figured a rather ambiguous title like that might be a bit easier than trying to summarise everything in the post into a few short words; silence is following us, and then getting shouted at. By us, I mean the Den, and my group of friends in this common phenomenon called ‘real life’. I’ll get down to official business later, but for now… well, I’ve had a couple of crazy weeks.

A couple of weeks ago, the Monday before the volcano went boom, I went to the cinema to see… a movie… I can’t quite remember which one… which doesn’t help, I’ll admit. That might have been when I went to see The Ghost. Or I saw that the Friday afterwards. My mind’s a blur. Great movie, though, following the story of a ghostwriter (one reason I enjoyed it so much in the first place!) as he becomes involved in a story he’s not all that keen on – politics, with a shady past *insert thunder and dramatic music here*. The Tuesday afterwards, I went to see OneRepublic. Now, one thing the cinema and a concert have in common is the silence beforehand, and immediately afterwards. Cinemas in particular are quiet when you first enter; concerts tend to have some sort of music before the band comes on, but outside the venue.. silence. And when you leave.. deafness.

Then the volcano erupted.

My parents got stuck in Rome. Fun, I know. We had a house to ourselves. Terrifying stuff, when all my friends want to invite themselves over, and I just want to make sure the house is clean because anyone could come to house at any time… including my parents. We literally had no idea when they’d be home (thankfully, they’re back now, picking out pictures for a 21st birthday they missed when they were away… their oldest son. Classy.

Moving onwards and upwards, and backwards and multilaterally, we reach the Den. People who follow this blog will have noticed something: Paul B and Brendan both forgot to write a post. Not to worry. I’m here to be loud again. No more silence for a few weeks. But I might forget at some stage in the future. I have dreaded end of year exams coming up… it won’t be fun. Not one bit.

Other silences in the Den… well, the major one worth pointing out is the lack of activity on the forum. Where did everyone go? (okay, I understand that it’s easier for a lot of people to just comment on the blog… that’s okay too, assuming we don’t forget to post…)

I’m sort of sick of silence at this stage. Joblessness sucks. Yes, another man insight into my life. Thankfully, college wasn’t boring on Thursday; we had a bouncy castle and a big slide, and then some burns to show home much fun we had. I received a particularly bad burn when I tried to stop something throwing me from the top of the slide…by wrapping my arms around his leg. He still threw me, and I ended up with my arm stuck underneath him… That hurt…

And now another silence… You see, I’ve pretyy much forgotten anything else I wanted to say. I wasn’t even intending on posting this blog here, but I can’t remember what I had wanted to say initially. Oh well. Enjoy the few days of silence before Andy posts… or just go crazy and leave a few comments about anything you want (or specifically Lost, Heroes, Doctor Who or Glee – I love those shows!)

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