Friday 29 July 2011

Exciting Day!

Good times ahead, because today I'm getting my first foster placement! I'm lucky, because the three year old will be staying with us for a week, and this weekend is the August bank holiday. So my husband will be off for three days of it.

Things are still fairly chaotic, as is our way, and we discovered last night that the stair-gates that we bought because they were the only ones that fitted our super narrow staircase need a drill to put up. Do we have a drill? No. We're currently ringing our way around friends and family trying to find one before she arrives. This afternoon. Our disorganization will come as no surprise to those of you who remember us losing our keys the week we were moving house, and came close to having to move the contents of our three bedroom home, including furniture, via Dublin Bus. Dublin's bus service should not be confused with bus systems in other world cities, which usually arrive on time. The Dublin Bus schedule is more a hope of what could happen, rather than a prediction of what will happen. It is the New Year's resolution of transport timetables.

In other exciting news, my main journalism job is stopping for August. That means that while I may still have some random projects to work on, my Monday to Friday job is on hold for four weeks. Which means that my plan of finishing the first draft of Lemons in August may actually come to fruition (See what I did there?). Good times.

Right, I'm off to write my last business segment for the summer, and to locate a drill. Hope you all have a good weekend!

Thursday 28 July 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Thanks everyone for the beautiful comments on yesterday's post. I've met so many lovely people since I started blogging here in March, I'm incredibly lucky.

I bought Divergent to take away on holiday, pulled in by its shiny cover, my love of all things dystopian and favourable mentions on blogger. Also because it was part of a three books for the price of two special in Eason's book shop on O'Connell Street. Hey, there's a global economic crisis on don't you know?

Whatever the reason, I'm glad I picked this one up. Roth's writing style is engaging and full of beautiful imagery that easily evokes a dystopian Chicago. Tris is an interesting character, though I wish we had gotten to know her family a little bit more before everything changed.

There's not much that I can say about the plot, without rapidly wading into spoiler territory, but I really liked this gritty YA novel. There were some parts that I didn't buy, like the trains looping round the city constantly for the sole use of the Dauntless faction, but generally it was a solid enjoyable novel.

The ending is obviously set up for a sequel, but I didn't get that annoying feeling that the sole purpose of this book was to set up the sequel. This is becoming very common lately with the rise of popularity of book series. I'd recommend any fan of YA or dystopian fiction to pick this up, it's well worth a read.

Oh, and I think I'd plump for Erudite, if you're interested ;)

Wednesday 27 July 2011

I've been approved as a foster carer!

Remember that thing I said a few weeks ago about waiting for something non writing related? Well, it happened yesterday. Myself and my husband have finally been approved as foster carers. We first applied in June 2010.

The great thing is, I can tell everyone now! I was afraid to tell people before, in case I jinxed things and made it less likely to happen. Our social worker was certain we would get approved, but I wanted to wait just in case.

We're getting our first placement on Friday of a three year old girl.  I'm so nervous, but really excited.We'll only have her for a week, so it will ease us in gently. Our friends have given us a pram and a playpen, and I've bought some essentials like baby shampoo, wipes and other things like that.

I'm not sure quite how this is going to work alongside my writing, but watch this space!

Monday 25 July 2011

Taking Stock

It's been a weird week. First there as the awful atrocity in Norway, which was just horrific. And then there was the death of Amy Winehouse on Saturday. Amy's death was sad in itself, but it also highlights the millions of lives that are ruined every year throughout the world due to addiction.

It's hard to see the justice sometimes. Almost 100 lives were lost in Norway due to one man, innocent people with the rest of their lives ahead of them. So too, hundreds of people have lost their lives through addiction in the past week. How is that all right? I'd class myself as spiritual rather than religious, and I can't seem to see through to the meaning behind it all.

Then there's the famine in Somalia, genocide and wars elsewhere in the globe, millions of people who seem to have the odds stacked against them from the very beginning. Sometimes it's hard to see how that is ok, and hard not to lose hope.

Sunday 24 July 2011

Liebster Award!

The fabulous Catherine Stine has given me the lovely Liebster Blog Award! Thanks Catherine! I encourage as many people as possible to check out Catherine's blog, she's an author, artist and teacher who is never too busy to give newbie authors some advice and encouragement.

 The aim of the award is to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers. The rules of the award are thus:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who awarded you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks & let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy & paste the award on your blog. (see award image above!)
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all—have bloggity-blog fun!

My Five Picks Are:

1. Aspiring YA novelist and all round entertaining person Juliana L. Brandt

2. Alicia Gregoire has one of the most entertaining blogs around, it's laugh out loud funny.

3. Alleged Author is an aspiring MG and YA writer with a unique take on the world of writing. 

4. Agent intern and astrophysicist Brit Hvide blog is very informative and illustrated with lots of Microsoft Paint diagrams. Reminds me of a publishing centric  Hyperbole and a half.

5. Chelsey Blair is a sharp and witty aspiring author and her blog always makes me smile. Definitely worth checking her out.

Hope you're all enjoying the weekend!

Thursday 21 July 2011

Winter Is Coming

I quite like the motto of House Stark in Game of Thrones, 'Winter Is Coming'. It feels like winter has arrived early in Ireland, with grey skies, incessant rain and cool temperatures. It's not just a blip, the weather has been like this for the past couple of weeks. There's a reason why the Romans called Ireland Hibernia, land of winter.

I haven't been writing on my blog much this week, mainly because I've had a bit of a stomach bug. Also because there hasn't been much to say. My writing is go okay, I haven't had any feedback from potential agents, and I'm really busy with the copy for the beer festival.

Tonight I'm heading out to a comedy show and a tapas bar, which I'm really looking forward to. Spanish food and comedy shows are two of my favourite things, so I'm looking forward to that. I have a huge amount of writing to do before I get to that point though, so I better get going.

Hope you're all having a good day :)

Monday 18 July 2011

I Couldn't Help But Wonder...

I loved Sex and the City. The television series that is, the less said about the movies the better. Apart from the fantastic clothes, the handbags and the glimpses of New York life, we also got to see the inside track on the life of a journalist.

I, like the fabulous Carrie Bradshaw, am a journalist.Unfortunately, that's where the comparisons begin and end. I don't write about sex, I write about the lifting of the European Union milk quota. The only relationship issues I attempt to hammer out are the link between the Greek riots and the price of Irish bonds.Carrie Bradshaw said in one episode that when money was tight she bought a copy of Vogue instead of dinner. If I even attempted such a thing, I'd end up eating the pages, glossy sheen or no. Which is probably how she manages to fit into all the designer clothes that she somehow manages to afford on a freelance salary. A column a week does not a Burberry trench-coat buy, my friends.

As far as I'm concerned, the biggest myth that show spawned was not the fact that one 'average' woman could use four different Dior bags in a single episode, or that friends will forgive you if you repeatedly slam their other half. It wasn't even the unrealistic dynamic of female friendship that Holli Moncrieff wrote about. It was the 'one take' idea of writing. I never saw her do rewrites, for example. She just sat down, made a scrunched up face, smoked a Marlboro Light and 'wondered'.She never once wrote an article on, say, sheep-farming in Bavaria, to make ends meet. She never made writing look like the hard work that it actually is.

She did wear some cool clothes though...

Friday 15 July 2011

Where did the week go?

Honestly, I can't believe that it's Friday already. It's been one of those strange weeks where time seems to have sped up, while my to do list has remained frustratingly high.

I have discovered that drinking beer while writing about it is not the best idea. When I started off it seemed like a good idea, particularly since I was drinking one of the brands I was writing. I started to get tipsy, and realised that my sentence syntax was starting to get muddled up. Fibromyalgia decreases your alcohol tolerance, so I had to stop after one bottle. I am a one drink woman or, in other words, a cheap date. I'm never going to make it as a stereotypical Irish writer who writes Jameson-fuelled prose.

I was feeling a little down about my writing, though my rejections haven't upset me it's hard to get emails and letters that are passing on your work without thinking that maybe this isn't meant to be. However, I got one rejection letter that said they would have taken me on a few months ago, but their client list is now full. They may have just said that to let me down gently, but it definitely beats a form rejection. My partial request came from an agent that I hesitated about querying, because they're such a big name. The odds are still saying that they're going to pass on me, but even the fact that they asked to see my work will give me a boost that should take me through the next round of querying.

Speaking of querying, Ravensborough is going out this weekend. So fingers crossed.

What do you guys do when you get discouraged?

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Slainte! (Cheers)

So, as well as trying to persuade someone to buy and publish one of my books, I also am a freelance journalist. I write mainly about business and entertainment, but for the next month I'm working with my husband on a project for a beer festival. Fun times! It's a pity I didn't get this gig when Hart Johnson was writing the first draft of her microbrewery mystery. I could have given expert advice, and she might have even thanked me in the acknowledgements, which is at least a step in the right direction to having my name on the cover of a book...

The great thing is that it's very sunny in Ireland, which is perfect beer-drinking weather. After all, I can't write about different types of beer without doing proper research, right? Right?

It's a good thing I have something to keep me busy, because life is fairly tough at the minute. Writing wise everything is going well, but I'm waiting for news that seems like it's never going to come. Again, for once not writing related.

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer :)

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Check-In-Tuesday: Always Money In The Strawberry Stand

I'm back from holiday! It was lovely, I needed a break and I definitely got it. I wouldn't say I did no writing, I scribbled down some thoughts as they came to me and thought about my plans for certain story lines, but that was the height of it.

I had planned to bring my netbook with me but, me being me, I left it at home. I thought it was in the car, but it wasn't in the car when I arrived at the holiday house. I had a mini panic attack, when I went to the Freakerton city limits and worried that I may have left it in my driveway where it would get stolen by my friendly yet opportunistic neighbour boys. I once lost my iPhone in the snow, me and electronics do not have the best relationship. However, when I got home I found the bag was in the kitchen, so all was well. I'm now behind in finishing a crit of my friend's MS and was unable to send my MS to my crit group, but I'll catch up.

So, now that I'm back and refreshed I'll do my round-up.

Words written: 3,000 (all on Monday, I didn't write for the week I was on holiday).

Rejections: 3 (Still not too upset. For the moment anyway. I'm sure I'll start wringing my hands and wailing any time now)

Agent requests: 1 partial request. Yay!

Current favourite book: I read lots of books on holiday, but Divergent stood out for me. It's nice when a book lives up to the hype (As factions go I think I'm Amity or Erudite. Whatever else, I'm not Dauntless. I'm afraid of my own shadow, banjos, wrists and my friendly yet opportunistic neighbour boys).

High point of the week: Wexford is the strawberry capital of Ireland. Well, at the very least it grows a lot of them and there's lots of stand along the roads where you can pull in and buy some. My husband and I recently discovered the joys of Arrested Development, so imagine our delight when we found a stand shaped like a strawberry! It's not a banana stand (there's always money in the banana stand, after all) but it's fairly cool nonetheless.

Low point of the week: Thinking that I'd lost my netbook. Panic was not helped by the fact I couldn't remember if I'd backed-up my work.

How about everyone else? How is your writing going?

Thursday 7 July 2011

The Sea: A Love Story

I don't know what it is about the sea, but it just calms me. I like to think it's because my surname come from the word Moray, the Scottish term for a sea settlement. But that's just fanciful talk.

I used to live by the sea when I was a little girl, and I still miss it. Hopefully, one day I'll live beside it again. I never feel quite as calm as I do when I'm beside the sea, and I find it very inspiring. I get some of my best story ideas sitting on the shore.

The great thing about Dublin is its size. From the city centre, a thirty minute drive in any direction will bring you to the mountains, the sea or the countryside. I love that about the place. That and the winding back streets that evolved over hundreds of years.

*What about all of you? Is there anything about where you live that gives you inspiration?*
*I'm on holiday, so I'll respond to any comments when I come back*

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Writing For Other People

This is a balance, because if you're going to write to be traditionally published then you have to look at the market. A publishing company is never going to take on your book if they don't think that they can sell it.Occasionally books get published that defy the trends, but this is more the exception than the rule. 

Also, if you write in a certain genre you have to be aware of the genre conventions. There is a reason why a person decides to go into a bookshop and go to a certain section. The conventions are not hard, fast rules, but you have to give the reader a certain framework.

Ok, so we've gotten that out of the way. One of the biggest mistake that a rookie writer can make is to write with other people in mind. This can take several forms, but there are two particularly bad forms.

#1: Letting other people's opinions interfere with the plot. When you think properly about writing a book, you realise that if you publish it everyone that you know is a potential reader. Your mother in law, that neighbour down the road who hates your guts, your co-workers.You can't pick certain people and tell them that they can't read it. So a writer starts to think, I better tone down that sex scene, they may think that I'm some sort of nymphomaniac or My character can't talk about how much she dislikes her sister in law, in case my sister in law thinks that I'm saying that I dislike her. Some people probably will think that facets of your character are based on yourself, but you just have to remind them that it is fiction. You have to be true to your characters, and your plot. As long as you're not writing thinly veiled autobiography, you should be fine.

2: Clarifying that your character's opinions are not your own in the main body of the text. If you write about a character that is a racist, people are not going to automatically assume that you are in fact racist. You don't need to do this: " 'Go back to where you came from,' David sneered. Obviously, racism is wrong but David was so full of rage at life that he didn't care about other people and the fact that we are all humans regardless of race."

Your characters are separate from you, and an intelligent reader is well able to separate the attitudes of a character, from that of the author. The above is unnecessary and takes away from the scene itself.

*Do you find it hard to write for yourself and not other people?*
*I'm on holiday, but I'll respond to any comments when I get back*

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Check-In-Tuesday: Holiday Edition

I'm on holiday so I'm not writing, and I'm also away from my email account and my mailbox, so I'm also not getting rejected. Which is good, rejection on holiday is not good for relaxation. So what is there to talk about, you ask? Books. 

Books+Time to Read= Happy Christine. 

Here are a few of the books that I'm hoping to get through on holidays.

This is one YA book that I've been meaning to read for a while. It's been getting great reviews on the blogosphere and seems to be one of those books that divides the YA community down a 'those that have read it, and those that 
haven't' line. I'm very excited about this one.

This book is about a group of women who have different backgrounds, but one thing in common: they all have cancer. The author herself has suffered from an aggressive form of the disease itself. I was hooked by this line on the back 'the experience of facing and fighting this illness is life-changing - and even life enhancing'. As a fibromyalgia patient, I like to see books with this theme, that explore the difficulties of illness without wallowing in self-pity. Illness really separates you from people, and it's something we don't talk about enough. Also, the author signed it in pink pen, how sweet is that?


I got hooked on the HBO series, so now I just have to read the book. It's great as a historian to be able to read a story inspired by the medieval age, and not keep getting dragged out of the story by anachronisms and mistakes. What, they're drinking water? But pure water was undrinkable in the medieval age, that's why everyone drank beer. Even kids drank special 'light' beer. (This is a true fact). But wait, this is a fictional world! So people can drink the water.

*Any recommendations? Reading is an all round thing, I'll need new titles when I come back from holiday*
*These blog posts are scheduled, so I'll respond to any comments when I come back*
*Miss you all!*

Monday 4 July 2011

I'm on holiday!

People who don't read my blog often, may not be aware that I'm currently on holiday. I may have spent most of last week blogging about it, and boring you all senseless, but now I should finally be very close to the picture you see on your right. Yep, that's County Wexford.

I'm scheduling this blog post, because if I do so much as attempt to boot up my net book my husband may wrestle me to the ground (and not in the good way) and throw it over the cliff. And, you know, he may file for divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour: i.e. not being able to take a holiday without writing.

Husband once wanted to buy an electric banjo.
Thankfully I persuaded  him otherwise.
 But, as it so happens, he may not be the only one pondering divorce. I was lucky enough to meet my soul mate at nineteen. He is a fabulous person, and we have a huge amount in common. However, when I daydreamed about finding the perfect man, I didn't imagine certain things that came as part of the package. I didn't see myself marrying someone who left cupboard doors open, and who likes to take random pieces of bric-a-brac out of his pockets at the end of the day and leave them on the kitchen table. And I certainly didn't see myself marrying someone who loved country music.

Yep. We have completely different musical tastes. I like musical scores, and pop, he likes a certain type of country music. While a proper holiday soundtrack for me would involve Rihanna, Beyonce, Michael Jackson and Fergie playing at full blast with me shrieking the lyrics tunelessly and flailing my limbs in wild, holiday-induced abandon, he will want to listen to depressing funeral dirge type music that bemoans the fate of humanity at length over the twang of a banjo. Our differing musical tastes only tend to come to a head on car journeys, when we're forced to share a stereo for a protracted amount of time. It will be interesting to see who prevails.

*I have no intention of divorcing my husband.*
*I'm sorry for any fans of depressing country music that may have been inadvertently offended by my post. On the bright side, at least y'all have more credibility than my pop-loving soul*
*Blog posts are scheduled, so I'll reply to any comments when I get back*