Catching Up

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I’ve been offline for some time. Don’t worry, I’m back. The Internet may now resume. (The Internet stops when I’m offline, right?)

I was at a 21st on Saturday night. It was in Westmeath. For those of you who don’t know Irish geography, that’s some bit away from Dublin. Returning on the same night is not advised, unless someone remains sober to drive (yeah right!) or you have a pocket full of extra cash to get a cab. We’re students. We stayed the night.

Now, we didn’t exactly sleep on Saturday night. It was more like Sunday morning before people made their way to the tents. Me? I was in the kitchen at that point, where it was warm, and decided it was too much effort to go back outside. So I slept on an armchair. At this point, it was half seven in the morning.

I did not get a long sleep.

At nine, I was up and talking (barely) until breakfast at eleven. We left the house for the two o’clock bus, and when I arrived back home a couple of hours later, proceeded to shower (which was awesome) and then, when the dinner was on, watch Supernatural. I stayed watching television until eight, when I went upstairs. I think.

Evidently, I woke up at half three in the morning still fully dressed and lying on top of my duvet. I wasn’t comfortable. I got up, used the toilet, removed my tracksuit bottoms (classy bloke that I am) and got back into bed. I thought, I’ll probably just stay awake.

I woke up at eleven, dreary, and celebrated. “You can’t catch up on sleep.” Biology, I have conquered you. I managed to get two nights’ worth of sleep, having woken up in the middle of it all.

So, there you have it: I am awesome.

Right? Okay, maybe not. However, I can report more from that 21st. For a start, I got drunk. That’s always a plus, here in Ireland. I haven’t had occasion to drink all summer, so this was a chance for me at reacquaint myself with my good old friend Captain Morgan. We got along well, I must say, because not only did I not fall over, I didn’t get sick.

That’s a double-win. Even after the miscellany of alcohol finding its way to me (from Sex on the Beach to Vodka to Mickey Finns) I survived. I honestly expected to have some form of liver failure after drinking, properly, for the first time in that house.

A fun sidenote: it was the same house where I first tried alcohol. I won’t, for the sake of those involved, tell you what the drink was. I tell that story far too often as it is.

What can we conclude  from this post?

  1. Even after a weekend of sleeping and drinking, I can remember to write my weekly post.
  2. I can defy biology.
  3. The Irish can drink without falling all over the place.
  4. Westmeath is worth drinking in. Sometimes.
  5. It’s possible for an Irishman, even an Irish writer, to drink responsibly. Sometimes.

Next week, maybe I’ll have something to say that isn’t about drinking. But then, what more do you expect from we Irish?

PS I have a habit, usually forced, of telling people when I’m drunk. Just for good measure: I’m sober.

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.

First I Was Afraid

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…then I was petrified. I spent a whole week on the camera without you by my side. Thought I’d always be alone, thought the book wouldn’t get done but I was wrong.

Actually, what’s wrong is that opening. Last week, I missed my spot. I said I would. I was tired, on the fifth day of putting together a book in a week. However, I managed to complete it. Balor Reborn is now published, after an exhausting week of writing, editing and whatnot.

You would think my summer activities would be complete after that, but no. I have a blog tour under-way this week with the other writing group I’m part of (yes, I’m two-timing the Den) and I’m in the midst of planning the sequels to Balor Reborn. Also, I’m getting ready to visit a haunted castle.

Actually, that’s non-specific. It’s actually the most haunted castle in the world, and I’m bringing brownies. You can tell that I’m clearly a professional paranormal investigator because I bring home-made brownies. We don’t expect to see much ghostly activity, but it should be fun, anyway. We also don’t expect to sleep. In fact, we’re banking on not sleeping. At all.

See how I managed to make that title specific to two things at once? Not bad for an outrageously tired writer. I’ve just come off three days’ working, almost two weeks’ writing and two hours baking. It’s close to midnight, and yes: I almost forgot to post today. These things do happen when life takes the turns it does.

Anyway, this is merely me writing for the sake of it. I have things going on, but I feel it’s always right to honour your obligations. Even if your eyeballs do hate you for it at the end of the day. Hopefully next week I’ll actually be able to do more than just spout out words.

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.

A Busy Writer

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Have you ever stopped and looked at your life? I don’t mean literally. I mean, looking at everything that you do, everything that happens in your life, the things you can control and the things you can’t. I do it a lot, especially when I can’t sleep, and I wonder about my life.

When my head’s in the game, I’m what I call a busy writer. Usually, I’m  too busy. This is a result of me taking on too many projects all at once, which usually results in a project overload. At the moment, I’ve got a few things going on:

1. I blog here, for a start. Okay, so I tend to miss my posts because of a bad memory, but this is one of the things I do every single week. I won’t even count the weekend job for this.

2. I maintain my own blog and website. Both need regular updating, and when things in my life don’t quite go according to plan, neither gets very much attention.

3. I’m writing a non-fiction book. I’ve only revealed details of it to a few select people, but it’s going to become quite time consuming once I get my head down and write.

4. I have a research paper to write for college. The actual writing isn’t a problem. It’s all the parts before it that are causing me some major delays. As in, I haven’t touched it all summer.

5. I have fictional works to write. Time consuming, and I’ve lost all motivation to do much of late. Once I get back into the game – and it’s all a mindset thing – I’ll be flying through them. Well, not literally. My laptop wouldn’t like that.

6. Learning. I made it quite clear on my blog that I like to learn. This month, I’m supposed to start cooking. So far, nothing, but I do have a fancy new cook book and blog. I just need to get the ingredients and the time to make something. Then I can officially say I’ve started.

I’m sure there’s more, but I can’t think of anything right now. My point, though, is that when I’m actually in the right frame of mind, managing all these projects and tasks is actually possible. Sure, it involves jumping around from place to place, but seeing the end results really helps to keep up the motivation. When you take on a lot of work, be sure to plan your time to be sure you use it all accordingly. If you’re out of work or school, plan your day in such a way that you’re working from X-Y am/pm, and actually do the work.

Does that seem too hard?

It’s not, if you really care about what you’re doing. This doesn’t just apply to writing, of course, but my limited experience with other hobbies or businesses does hinder the examples I can give you. Just remind yourself that you have something important to do, and set that time in your day-planner to actually do it.

Me? I actually remembered to post this week. Now I need to find something else to do while you get your day planned and get some work done! Make the most of this and every day, and you’ll surprise yourself with how productive you can be!

The Den Needs Writers

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While Andy and I attempt to get the Den back on its feet after a long hiatus, I’d like to take this chance to tell you how you can get involved. It’s simple, and I’ll need to tell you quickly: I can see this deadline whooshing past already!

Basically, we need bloggers. We’re not saying you need to be able to write a post on a given day every week, but even just the odd post every couple of weeks would be of benefit to us, and to you. I’m a firm believer that writing experience is vital for getting better, and that writing across different sites is the easiest way to get noticed without having to pull of some marketing tricks.

I write on Mondays, and Andy on Fridays, but we’ve got four more days’ worth of writing spots available – Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Before we used to have a blog a day. It made for a vibrant blog, and an active writing community. I’d like to see it come back.

And Wednesday? Wednesday is the day we offer to guest posts. If you’re on a blog tour, we welcome you to write for us. This little community needs writers, and if you read my last post you know it helps the writers who come along. I’ve made some amazing friends here, and I got to write an awful lot more, and to a wider audience, thanks to the group.

So what are you waiting for?

Comment below, or send me an email at literaryden@gmail.com and we can get you started. Andy will sort out the blog memberships. He’s into that sort of thing. And once you’re set up, we can welcome you to the family.

I can’t wait to hear from you.

Happy writing,
Paul.

PS Can you believe it? I left it until a quarter to midnight to write my post. Again. I’m a glutton for punishment.

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