Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Night Terrors

Last night I had a dream. It was deliciously scary, and not the 'off-the-wall' kind of scary either. But it had a bit of a terrifying end to it, and since I haven't posted here in a while, I thought it would be the best place to muse on it.

In the dream I was at home with my Dad and cats as usual. I think my Mam was here too, but it's not unusual for me to dream that. For some reason we knew that there was going to be a lot of activity that night, spirits and ghosts etc. and we had accepted this. There had been some small incidences throughout the evening - knocking sounds, lights flicking on, doors open where they should have been closed - but it was all taken in our stride.

Later on in the night I was lying in bed and the boiler in the kitchen started to thump. This is a common occurrence in our house, at any time of day. We just need to adjust the thermostat in the boiler press for a few seconds and it regulates itself.

I get up to sort it out, hoping it wouldn't wake anyone. As I'm bent over with my head stuck in the closet, Daddy shows up in the doorway, all scruffy and bleary with sleep.
"You can almost feel them touching you," he said.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"The spirits, they're everywhere. The place is thick with them."

A chill ran down my spine, and I told him to stop. We were arguing back and forth when right in front of us, a chair started to move across the room, hovering just inches above the floor. It was understood that things like this were going to happen that night, but this time it was different, this time it was right before our eyes.

The argument was quickly forgotten, and we hurried to our rooms. A little later on I heard some noises. I use earplugs, so I couldn't pinpoint exactly what they were, but I figured it was probably my Dad up again. Then this awful pressure seemed to engulf the room. A drumroll of sounds like a stampede of footsteps started up in the hall outside my bedroom door, getting faster and faster, closer and closer. When they reached my door I woke with a jerk as my handbag fell off the hook on the back of the door.

Now, I've always believed in the power of the mind. It's not the first time something like this has happened - dreaming of the phone ringing only to wake up and the phone starts to ring - but I'm also quite rational and try to make sense of or explain these things. I know that perhaps the phone was already ringing, which caused me to dream about it ringing. But this time it was the opposite - the sound was in my dream, outside my bedroom door... can it be coincidence that my bag fell right at that moment? Or was it the power of the mind?

If I was to take my usual view, I would have to admit that the sound was actually happening outside my door and the vibrations caused the bag to fall, but this is just not logical; there's nothing in the house that could have made sounds and tremors so strong as to make something fall off its hook. Earthquake? In Ireland? I hardly think so. Besides, there's been nothing on the news to corroborate this.

I don't know, and though I spent a long time lying in the dark with my heart racing, I sure hope it continues; this kinda shit makes for damn good writing material!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Random Excerpt

This entire section of something I've yet to write just popped into my head and seduced me. As I was committing it to paper the thought struck me that maybe I'd leave it to seduce you lot also, if you were that way inclined. Enjoy...

The drinks had really done a number on me. When I closed my eyes to kiss her the room began to spin. I tried to lose myself in the sensation, make it work for me, but I found I had forgotten her face.
I pulled away and looked at her, saw the pretty blue eyes and the sweet mouth that had bewitched me, and I knew right there and then, there was nowhere else I'd rather be.
I brushed a lock of hair away from her face and continued to regard her. She gazed up at me in turn, her bottom lip caught between her teeth. She was smiling but her eyes were troubled, and there was no amount of sexy pouts she could try on to hide that. 
They begged me not to lie, to be different. I didn't know if I could. They searched deep into mine trying to find a clue as to what kind of person I would be to her once the deed had been done. Would I be another walker?
Though she spoke not a word, the pressure was hellish. Though she tugged at my neck, dragging my lips back down to hers, those eyes still beseeched me to be something I wasn't sure I could be.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Another Photo Post

Since its release, Red Wine and Words has certainly found itself in some strange places, in strange hands. Here's another photo blog for your entertainment.

Keeping the men quiet since 2010
Handsome Prince
Intermission entertainment
Keeping chefs well oiled since 2010

Slumber Party

Chilling after a hard day

Looks innocent? Appearances can be deceiving

One fan's evening of indulgence
What Pooh does in his spare time

Book club

Creativity inspires creativity

What d'ya think?

Red Wine goes overseas
Red Wine 1 - whoever's on the field 0

It's not Fifty Shades women, dismount!

Red Wine, Words and Scuba Diving

Don't ask

And that's it for now folks. Keep those cameras rolling and the pages turning. Watch this space.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Not Another Interview

Sorry to give the post a misleading title and lure you here under false pretenses, but yes, it's another interview. I was tagged in this interview by Nelson W. Pyles. You can check out his own version here.

If you like this, and what follows, you can check out the following blogs next week and see their answers.

Without further ado, here is my own interview, which I know you're just dying for!

* What are you working on right now?
I've just finished my second short story collection with the working title, 'High Heels and Elegies.' After the long editing process on that I figured it was too soon to go right back into editing. So I decided to write a short that will go into the third collection.
At the minute I've taken a teeny hiatus to travel home to Ireland. When I'm settled in here for a few weeks I'm going to go back and edit a novel I finished last November. This was never meant to be a novel, but in fact another short story to go into the second collection. However, when I started to work out the details it just exploded. About 20,000 words into it, ideas for a second and third in the series were already starting to germinate.
I set the first one aside for a while, so I could edit it with fresh eyes. And this, to haul a long story to a short end, is what I'm working on now.

* How does it differ from other works in its genre?
The novel is set back in the late 1800's. The protagonist is a twenty-something innocent whose family has fallen on hard times - Lillian. With the death of her father, the running of the homestead fell to her and her mother. The antagonist... well that would be telling.
We open with a call from her sister, asking her to come to join her because she's getting married. From there on Lillian's world is thrown into confusion.
The story links Christianity with the occult. It's something along the lines of Bram Stoker's Dracula meets The DaVinci Code without the God awful, frustrating cliffhangers (DaVinci code – I haven't a bad word to say about Stoker.)
Rest assured there's not much that sparkles in this novel. And as for happy endings, well, you'll soon see that I'm a hard-hearted cow in that respect. Sex, darkness, the eternal struggle between good and evil, and some nice, old-fashioned chills – that's how it differs from other current works in it's genre.

* What experiences have influenced you?
It's hard to pick 'experiences' as such, but I guess I could pinpoint some specific episodes that inspired this particular work. Stoker's Dracula is by far my favourite book of all times. They just don't make them like that any more, and this pisses me right off. We need to turn this Hollywood crap around, lose the damn sparkles and boo hoo storylines and bring it back to the 'chill down the spine' basics. (I hear the latest fad is zombie love stories, and I'm not entirely sure I want to live in this world any longer.)
Christianity – and all religions as a matter of fact – fascinate me. They inspire such hope, yet at the same time such mania and violence. So rich and colourful, so many hidden truths. And let's face it – Christianity and the occult go hand in hand. We eat up these stories of conspiracy and shady goings-ons behind closed church doors. It was while researching something else that I stumbled upon a connection between the two - a kind of clich├ęd 'aha' moment if you will.
On a broader scale, beyond this one novel, anything influences me. A dream, a random thought that pops out of a conversation, a photo on the web, my past, my hopes for the future, a single fecking word – anything can be turned into a story in my brain. You have been warned.

* Why do you write what you do?
Because I want to, because I love it, and because it grabs me by the throat, penetrates my mind, and forces me to do it. Some things just get under my skin and make me shiver. Many of these things wouldn't be your idea of traditional horror, but to me they are terrifying – horror without the crawlies and tentacled monsters; horror to me sometimes, can be found in the simple monotony of everyday life.
I love reading, with a passion. They say a person who reads lives a thousand lives, well if that's true then a writer lives, breathes, creates a million lives. And that's why I write. Besides, how else am I going to get all this stuff out of my head without being arrested?

* How does your writing process work?
Explaining that could be a novel in itself. Let's make it short and sweet (stop laughing.)
No music, no TV, no people. The idea has usually been in place for a long time. Blank sheet, Google search engine. I layout the story as it's going to go, handwritten, in a flow chart, each scene in a little bubble, flowing to the next. Outside the bubbles will be scenery descriptions or dialogue as they come to me.
Once I know all the players needed, I will pick their names, envision how they look, decide on their personalities and their quirks – do they smoke, have they a twitch etc. After that we've got to work on the place and setting - more research, more names, more quirks; sometimes maps.
Then, and only then, will I start to type. I make it sound so easy don't I!

* What is the hardest part about writing?
Finding the time to do it. Even when I have free time it seems there's something that crops up to thwart any notions I have of writing unimpeded for hours on end. There is always something, sometimes it can even be my own mind. I may be all set to write, no interruptions planned for a long time, but the mind just refuses to work. On those days every word is like extracting a gallstone, and suddenly chores like cleaning, shopping, alphabetising your trash, flossing the cat for example, become the most alluring tasks you've ever had ahead of you.
If any other career was as impossible on some days as writing is, I'd have given up a long time ago. That's why I know it's the only one for me.

* What would you like to try as a writer that you haven't yet?
A story in second person. I haven't done that yet, haven't got an idea, but I'm sure I'll get to it. The thing with writing is you're constantly learning, constantly hearing of different forms of writing. It could be as simple as stumbling across something you hadn't heard of before and thinking 'I gotta write about that.' Or, in my case, thinking 'spiders scare the shite out of me, I gotta do a story.'
But then there's also things like writing in the second person, which is basically unheard of really, and which many publishers wouldn't even look at. That sounds like a challenge to me – I know I can do this, and do this good.
Recently I stumbled upon a competition to write a story back to front – I'm all over that, says I. And another competition to create a drabble – a story of one hundred words maximum – yup, like a leper's lesions, says I.
I love challenges, and this gig has no shortage of them.

* Who are the authors you most admire?
Oh dear. As we say at home, you've went and gone and done it now.
I'm guessing, at this stage, it won't surprise you if I say Bram Stoker. Well, I do. And to read his biography is mildly heartbreaking. I've read some of his other stuff beyond 'Dracula,' and it's great. But in essence 'Dracula' was his nemesis. It made him, and it broke him. Basically anything he wrote afterwards was reviewed as 'it was good, but it wasn't Dracula.' After 'Dracula' nothing was truly recognised, and that's a terrible, terrible shame.
Next up – Daphne du Maurier. For a woman, writing in her time, she really nailed it, bless her. It was basically unheard of for women writers back then to tackle what she did, but she did it and did it well. This 'women writer' prejudice still exists, believe it or not. Now it's not intentional, it's a subconscious bias, and these are hard to break. I want to break it like she did.
J.K Rowling – against all odds. Poe – you could almost taste his soul in his writing. Hemmingway – in my eyes his best works were the ones with fewest words; the impact has never lessened. Steinbeck – classic, easy reading that will blow your mind. I could go on all night...

* Who are new authors to watch out for?
Okay, you've went and gone and done it!
Suzanne Robb. This girl writes faster than I can breathe, and I've been called prolific. But she doesn't churn out junk. This is good stuff and I would have no qualms recommending her.
Brian Dobbins. I should check this statement for innuendos, but what the hell, he blew me away.
Darren Gallagher – he's struggled, he's succeeded. He's worth it.
Adrian Chamberlin – in the words of Nike, Just Do It. When it comes to writing, this guy has eyes in the back of his head.
Last but not least – me? Sniffle.

* What scares you?
Questions like these!
I don't know. This is a personal question. I could do the usuals – spiders, heights, mild claustrophobia, and, anyone who knows me wouldn't believe it, but shyness. These are all very real and scary but I'm sure any number of people could say the same.
What really scares me? Being alone. I don't mean this in the conventional 'I don't want to grow to be an old spinster' terms – which I reckon I'm fated for – but worse for me is finding that person and losing them to wherever we go after we're done here. Same with my sisters, my family, my best friends. To be the last one, to have known this depth of love, friendship and companionship, and then to be without... I can't even begin to consider that level of fear.
End it with a bunch of bright flowers eh? On a lighter note – with writing I think that even if I'm in that position I can create one of those million lives I mentioned before and live in there. Hmmmmm, material for another interview I wonder?

There you have it. Hope you enjoyed reading. And never fear, I'm sure there will be another one along soon.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

In Sound

This is the start of the big leagues. I can feel it in my waters. Today one of my stories has been released in audio form, courtesy of the talented and kind Nelson W. Pyles. The lucky number is Frozen Outpost, the third story in Red Wine and Words.

You can listen (that sounds weird) here.

Next up - filmisation :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Three Days of Me

No, this is not some kooky self-help thing I'm going to spout about. This is far, far better. This is three whole days of interviews. With whom, you might ask? Why, me of course! Little old me. The first installment is up and running today - a promo of Red Wine and Words, including an excerpt from the final story in the collection, 'Cornflower Blue.'

You can read it here.

And tomorrow's installment promises even more excitement with two never before seen stories; experiments, if you would, in the endless possibilities of writing.

If you're curious about me, the author, then Friday is question and answer time where you'll find all the useless information you could even have dreamed of.

Pop over and have a look, call back tomorrow, give it a like or throw it a comment, whatever tickles your proverbial fancies. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Two New Reviews

In the last week Red Wine and Words has received two new reviews that I'm terribly pleased by. With such praise as:
"Each tale is the product of an active and somewhat skewed imagination, and each one is told in a way that quickly grabbed and then held my interest."
"You won't find gory horror or gratuitous crimson spilling in this short story collection, but if you're after more thoughtful discourse in the faults of human nature you shall be pleased."
You can find the full reviews at the following, respectively:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

On Tunnels, Hypothermia and the Dangers of Not Wearing Underwear

I was asked recently by a good writer friend of mine to conduct a little interview. The premise is that such a thing would help readers and potential readers to know me better. Personally I think she's just plain nosy. Whatever the case may be, here's a link to the outcome of said interview.

Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Seven of Five

I continue to be blown away by the reviews I'm receiving for Red Wine and Words. As a writer, I find that one of the most stomach-knotting chores is sending my book out to be reviewed. I've no idea how it will be received, described or rated. No matter how many excellent reviews I've gotten, at the back of my mind is the always the terrifying thought that this time, this one, could be the one.

Ultimately it's like standing on a podium in front of a room full of your peers, and asking them to pick you apart, point out your flaws and judge your every detail with the most critical eye. And you don't relax until you see those stars.

Thankfully the latest review for Red Wine and Words had five of the little beauties. It was an absolutely wonderful review, and you can read it here:

My favourite line is:

"Someone wrote a review saying they were putting this book on the same shelf as Poe and Conan Doyle, which sounded like hyperbole, but I have to say that several of the stories in this book belong in such company."

I know many might have thought the same while reading some of the reviews - hyperbole - and it was a relief and a joy to have that pointed out and refuted. Plus, yet again, my work has been compared to two of my all-time favourite authors - the great Edgar Allan Poe, and the father of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. And that's a breed of flattery one couldn't afford to buy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Red Wine and Words Does the Rounds

To make up for not having posted in a while, this is going to be a photo post, the photos being various weird and wonderful endorsements of Red Wine and Words. Brace yourselves, and consider yourselves duly warned.

Red Wine by the fire, with Jenny O'Brien

Loki the dog and author Suzanne Robb
showing Red Wine some loving

What happens after too much Red Wine
Red Wines on the mantle

A proud niece and her Wine goggles,
with Chloe Ennis

Recess! With Triona Furlong
Not quite fifty shades faces, but Red
Wine faces

Auntie Em wrote a book? with Spot the dog

A whole new breed of book club, with Karen Furlong
And again, with Fairy Furlong
Billy Bo, starting young

Wine goggles again

Thanks so much for all your pics. They've been great fun. And most importantly - keep 'em coming :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Terribly Witty Idea

I finally did it. I conformed to trending social networking fads and created myself an author page. I held off as long as I could for fear of being labelled as a spammer. But I hear it's the 'in' thing nowadays and I'm nothing if I'm not fashionable.

So here it is. Why not pop on over and give it a like?

While I can't very well write four or five long and insightful posts on here each day, I can update regularly via the author page. Just a friendly warning; wouldn't like you to miss out on anything.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

At Your Polling Stations

Read the End First is currently entangled in the Predators and Editors poll for best anthology of 2012. It's doing really well, but because I'm so hard to please, I want it to do better.

There's just over 15 hours to get your votes in. Any of you who have read Read the End First will know that it's a quality book with consistently good writing and editing throughout. It's unique in its premise and in the content it drew. So it's well worthy of your vote.

My story in this book, Hammered and Nail, has been called out a few times, as have many of the stories, and we want to spread the news of its existence far and wide. As always, my loyal subjects, I would be eternally grateful for the support.

It takes only a few seconds, but will create many hours of happiness for me and hence unending satisfaction for your good self. Don't forget to click the confirmation link on your email though, or the vote won't count.

Ready, steady, GO!

Friday, January 4, 2013

A New Way to Become Acquainted

First and foremost, happy new year to you all. I ask you to forgive me if this post sounds sluggish and hungover-ish, but there's a perfectly good reason for it. I'm sluggish and hungover.

So, a new year and new beginnings. I have already started to organise my tonne of scraps and papers to prepare for the writing year. Hopefully 2013 will see the printing of at least one more book by my good self.

Now as you know, from the start this blog was dedicated only to things writerly. I'll admit there have been times when I've had to slap my hands away from the keyboard to stop myself spouting about some new gadget I'd purchased, or ranting over world affairs, or lamenting my non-writing related woes, and though this does good for the health of the blog, it does not however, help to foster the most open relationship between you and me. Surely, I have heard you ponder, there must be more to this person than pen and paper, fingertips and keys; surely she has more to say than buy, buy, buy.

Well, if you're interested I have found a way in which we can become better acquainted. There's a relatively new site on t'interwebs called 'Storylane.' It's basically Facebook, Twitter and Blogger all rolled into one. Here is where you can find the writings of non-fiction, emotional and life insights, and general bladderings I must contain myself from deluging here.

In short it's more like a very public, very embarrassing diary, but we shall call it speculative non-fiction for the want of a better title. You can find me here.