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.

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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!

Rants, boots, and comfort shopping

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Why do we always treat ourselves, buying something special, to make us feel better?

I just ordered some New Rock boots. Oh dear.

Those who know me and my fashion and music tastes may be surprised to know I don’t yet own a pair of New Rocks. If you’re not sure what they are, think of big, black, shiny, sexy über boots with shiny silver buckles and sometimes devil faces or coloured highlights. They are stompy, tough, not-for-any-old-barn-dancing, expensive footwear. Custom models are available, and could set you back a fair pretty penny. I’ve gone for something a bit more basic, at £85.99 (including the £12.99 FedEx fee. That’s a big Blimey! in itself).

I shall post photos on my own blog found here and on my Twitter when they arrive some time next week. I’m just a little excited.

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Why buy new boots? Well, for one thing, my old boots have been letting in water. Whereas my work boots are decent, 3-figure composite-toe-plated safety Magnum Elite CT boots by Magnum Hi-Tec, my normal day-to-day boots have recently been a cheap pair from a shop in town. I own three pairs of Converse, so far this has been as stylish as I get. Time to upgrade a little.

Also, it’s a comfort buy. Work at the DDJ* has been pretty rough recently. Until now, our company has remained fairly untouched by the recession, even posting overall profits this year. However, shareholders have to be kept happy, and takings are down, so changes are being made, pressure is being applied at all levels of management, and those of us at the bottom of the food chain are left picking up the pieces, as always. Hopefully things will improve, but at the moment there are an awful lot of disheartened workers. Thankfully, I’m in a position not to be too badly affected, but it does become a strain when your co-workers are constantly down-trodden and mopey. It’s very hard to motivate people, even harder when customers are of the mistaken belief that they should get things cheaper (or even free) for the slightest inconvenience or complaint.

Trust me, if you’re shopping, remember you are not always right. People who work in shops, especially large, specialty stores like mine, are well trained to know what they are talking about. You want to try re-wiring your house without being a qualified electrician? Fine, go ahead. Don’t come crying to me when your house burns down. Want to plumb in your new toilet but don’t know your U-bend from your elbow? I ain’t mopping up the water. Want to knock through a retaining wall? Fit a new gas fire? Unblock your bathtub with high power drain blaster? Yeah, your funeral, and I won’t be attending. Oh, and if you say to me you’d get better service elsewhere, don’t mind me if I roll about laughing. You won’t. No other company in our field gives the level of training to its staff, or service to its customers, like the one I work for. We’re market leaders (in a buggered market, yes, but leaders nonetheless) for a reason.

End rant. Sorry.

So yeah, my new boots are a comfort buy. Sosumi.

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Which leads me to ask what are your comfort buys? What have you splashed out on when you really should be tightening your belt? What impulsive spending did you rack up on eBay for? Useful things like regular clothes or footwear? Or less useful, like party clothes or trinkets, etc?

(Also, my New iPad purchase last month doesn’t count as an impulse or comfort buy. Since I started selling kitchens, I started saving up out of my pay especially to buy it. Last month was when I finally reached my target for the spec I wanted.)

Answers in the comments below. Best ones may get a sweetie, worst ones get fed to Reggie.

* = Dreaded Day Job, the job which many writers must have that pays actual cashy money with which to keep roof over head and food in belly. Not always writing related. I sell kitchens. Stop sniggering at the back there.

Dredding Monsters

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I hate when Hollywood tries to remake or sequel films. They rarely get it right.

You may remember Gareth Edward’s 2010 hit indie sci-fi film, Monsters. Filmed with only two actual actors, a camera guy, sound guy, and editor, and using local people as extras, this film raised the bar of indie films. With a budget of five figures (and low five figures, at that) this film is a testament to what can be done with brilliant cinematography, excellent acting, and minimal special effects.

I just read on iO9 that Misfits director Tom Green is to film a sequel, Monsters: The Dark Continent. The synopsis of Jay Basu’s script is thus:

Seven years on from the events of Monsters, and the ‘Infected Zones’ have spread worldwide. Humans have been knocked off the top of the food chain, with disparate communities struggling for survival. American soldiers are being sent abroad to protect US interests from the Monsters, but the war is far from being won.

Noah, a haunted soldier with several tours under his belt, is sent on a mission: an American soldier has gone rogue deep in the Infected Zone, and Noah must reach him and take him out. But when Noah’s unit and transport are destroyed, he finds himself with only a young and inexperienced cadet for company – the brother of the man Noah has been sent to kill.

The two soldiers must go on a life-altering journey through the dark heart of monster territory, accompanied by a young local woman to guide them. By the time the three of them reach their goal, they will have been forced to confront the fear that the true monsters on the planet may not be alien after all.

And this just feels wrong. Three paragraphs, and the only bit that seems true to the overall style and feel of the original is the very. Last. Line.

The whole success of Monsters was the simplicity of it, the basic get-home-in-one-piece plot, and the unbelievably low budget and method of filming. This sequel sounds to me like it is trying too hard to be a blockbuster by following Hollywood’s tired old formula of action, adventure, horror, heroes, etc. Everything Monsters wasn’t.

I may be proven wrong, and I certainly hope I am. But I predict this new sequel will fall flat on its face, purely because the filmmakers are trying to emulate the original’s success without repeating any of the elements that made it successful.

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What I am excited for is the forthcoming Dredd feature film. Now, I liked Sly Stallone’s take on it. Visually, for me, it was perfect. The uniforms, Lawmaster bikes, Lawgiver guns, everything looked good. Yeah, the plot had more holes than a pair of fishnets, but I still enjoyed watching it. However, Carl Urban’s Dredd looks to be much darker, harder, and more realistic, in line with recent hero film remakes as Iron Man and the Dark Knight trilogy. I can’t wait!

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I haven’t seen Prometheus yet. I’ll probably catch it on iTunes, I just don’t have time to see films at the cinema these days. But I am going to be trying to catch The Dark Knight Rises at some point.

What are you looking forward to this year at the movies? Tell me in the comments below.

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