Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Week 4 - I love dark YA blogfest

November 23rd:
#YASAVES—Blog about how a dark YA book made an impact in your life.

I don't remember how or why I started reading the Inheritance Trilogy by Christopher Paolini ( which is not even called a Trilogy anymore but a Cycle) but I remember how it started to shape me.
Strangely enough, the story really dug into me as the hero got an horrible scar down his back; As Durza scars Eragon for life, it seems to have the same effect on me.
As I read on and discovered how Eragon suffered frequent debilitating seizures because of it, I grew respectful of the character and of the author for bringing this very realistic approach to the story and his character.
The pain Eragon suffer is well described and I remember thinking: I dont think I ever encountered a story where the hero physically suffered from an injury which became something that he carried along.

In every movie, every book, every game, most hero survive mortal wounds without any "real" scar, or at least if they are physical, they rarely explain how a scar beyond the history of how or why the wound was inflicted became to shape the hero in his or her daily life.
In reality, even a ligament or a muscle injury stay with you for years to come. It often awakens with the weather or with a bad move and it becomes a part of you; it shapes you physically and mentally.
Your body starts to compensate in other ways to balance itself out. Because your mind will do anything to either make you forget how you got the wound or how to avoid feeling the injury again.
I thought there was a really cleverness about this.
But of course, this cleverness is nothing compare to the cleverness of creating a whole new language and a whole new world.
Rivers, mountains, deserts, rules, hierarchy, legends, races, powers.
Creating landscapes where there was just void before.
Creating conflicts and interests where characters were just empty ragg dolls without purpose.
Creating meanings behind made up words. And not any words. Creating Words which pronunciation will become as vivid as the meaning itself.
That word really sounds like Fire coming to Life.
And turning them into shape, sense, texture.
All of this in the mind of one person.
That is truly the skill of a writer.
So this is indeed one of the many dark YA books that shaped me.

His fourth book, Inheritance, was released this month (on November 8, 2011) and I can't wait to put a conclusion to this story I read over the course of 4 years.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sport Writer opportunities

Volunteer Writing opportunities

I have seen this post and thought to promote it here for my fellow writers who might be wanted to try to get their names out there and hone their writing skills in Sport.

Kellco Sport is currently looking for Volunteer writers to join their ever growing band of reporters.

It could be a good building platform if you are trying to get into journalism or have journalism experience.

Their goal is to bring the latest sporting news from Ireland and further afield while giving young and aspiring writers a chance to have their work published online.
They are run by volunteers and thus do not pay for work submitted.
However, there are other perks that come with writing for Kellco Sport such as tickets to various events and press passes to games in all sports.
If you wish to fill one of the roles listed below or if you would like further information please do not hesitate to contact them.
Sub Editor
Blog Editor
Football Correspondent
Rugby Correspondent
Football Writer Ireland
Football Writer UK
Football Writer Europe
GAA Writer – Football
GAA Writer – Hurling
Rugby Writer
Boxing Writer
Golf Writer
Cricket Writer


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Week 3- I Love Dark YA Blogfest - Music and Movie Fun

I think today is my last day for week 3 of the blogfest by which I should do week 3.
I am a little behind. Okay, I'm a lot behind.

November 16th:
Music and Movie Fun—Take a dark YA book and build a soundtrack for it or cast characters for a movie version.

I am reading a Dark YA book called " Small Minded Giants" by Oisin McGann.
He is an Irish author.The story is set 200 years in the future.

Built to provide refuge for its population from the ravages of a frozen climate, Ash Harbour lies beneath a concraglass dome. Its streets, paths and bridges, are all constructed to generate power. This "Machine" is an intricately controlled system balanced in such way so that its inhabitants can go about their daily lives as "normally" as possible. But Ash Harbour's finely-tuned operation is under threat; the city is plagued by accidents, and they are steadily getting worse.

One kid, 16 year-old Solomon Wheat lives as happily as anyone can be in such a confined dark environment. (There is little light from above as the dome as it's often covered with snow) But when his father, Gregor, has gone missing and is accused of murder, Sol begins to search for his father and soon is pursued by mobsters trying to collect on Gregor's gambling debts. The police are watching him, and so are the Clockworkers; a shadowy organisation founded to protect the operation of the Machine.

There's definitely an undertone of how capitalism has brought this mini society to its knees and how the people in power has made it hard for their citizen to live without light and heat. It would be quite depressing to live this way and the author translates well the feeling.

One of the side characters Cloe is a rebellious kid whose band, the "Freak Soup", has been refused to be part of their school end-of-the-year gig because of the "inflammatory" content of her song lyrics. She basically condemns the system and the system is condemning her. All these greater messages are subtle and nicely put together.
A good read for young adults.

Funnily enough, Cleo is big into music so this book coincidentally fits quite well with the blogfest.

So to wrap up and based on this book' storyline, here is my very short soundtrack...

1. God is an Astronaut. Beyong the Dying Light.

2. Rage Against The Machine - Killing In The Name

3. Rush- Resist

4. Magnolia - Wise up (Aimee Mann)

5.  Magnolia - Mad World (Gary Jules)


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Help Build a Pop Up Park in Dublin City Centre!!!

Help Upstart get funding of €10,000 for it’s next amazing project by
donating only €2-€5!! Donations needed urgently by 25th November, 5pm

In order to receive a prize fund of €10,000 Upstart needs to receive
unique donations (of €1-€5) from individual donors by 5pm, November
25th. This fund will be used to build a Pop Up Park in Dublin City
Centre (a short term, 3-4 month installation) to highlight all that is
good and beautiful in Dublin. Amongst other things (more below) the
Pop up Park will host day and night outdoor theatre performances in
wooden theatres built with the help of young teenagers from Dublin’s
inner city and teenagers from disadvantaged loyalist areas of Northern

How can you help?

Well, it's straight forward enough...we are looking for a small
donation of a few euro per person. We have entered the Better Together
Giving Competition (put in website here). This comes with a €10,000
prize fund that will go to the cause that receives the most 'unique

This is the bit in the movie where you say, "whatever the hell it
takes! I'm in!"
And you, my good fellows have become a vital cog in this
wheel of glory!

The Project:

The general ambition in this project is to put colour and creativity
into an urban space that is vacant of anything...other than its
potential of course.

It would involve Upstart planting an Orchard!
And just in case you’re worried - the trees will be given a happy new home at the completion of the project!(The project will be a little similar to this-http://www.unionstreetorchard.org.uk/)

Grassy knolls to lie back and eat your packed lunch on (these
are funny things- think sun loungers that are covered in grass,
without the wet bums, they have a drainage system to take water away
whilst the grass keeps green!)

A theatre space for day & night performances (this would be an
exciting space designed by professionals who have experience in large
scale wooden constructions at Burning Man and Electric Picnic. They
will work with young teenagers from Dublin city centre and from
disadvantaged loyalist areas of Northern Ireland in building something
inspirational out of a material that is such an integral part of
sectarian bonfires of July 14th- the humble wooden pallet.)

Not to mention art of all sorts and the odd workshop & lecture
thrown in for good measure. Block T (Vodafone Cultural Attraction of
the Year 2011) has already voiced it’s support.

Help Upstart get this funding by giving a small donation today --
we’ll keep you a spot on a grassy knoll in Dublin City Centre!

For info follow this website:http://www.bettertogether.ie/content/upstart-arts-collective
To donate, click on "Donate to this" link and you will land on the following website:
Either follow the suggested donations or decide your own.
Thank you all.

Friday, November 18, 2011

"I took a gamble and I survived."

I took a gamble at writing and I don't know if I survived.
Ask me in a couple of years.
The real quote "I took a gamble and I survived" was based on an article written last month (Friday 14 October 2011) by Emma Brockes (The Guardian) who interviewed Mr Murakami on his latest book.
The quote, Marukami's gamble, was not what I expected. I thought his gamble had been choosing to write when his parents had expected him to get a job with Mitsubishi. But no.  Haruki Murakami's biggest gamble was to get married young (20 or 21) This according to him, was even more difficult that buying a jazz bar. 
That says quite something about marriage. ;-)
I haven't read his book which is only a 1000-page long.
But the Japanese obviously didn't get discouraged by his "paving stone" novel because according to the Guardian, "in its first month of release, 1Q84 sold one million copies in Japan."
And the book isn't an easy read either apparently.

This made me question about a subject close to me.

The attention span of our current society in reading.

How much do people read on a daily basis? How many people would read a 1000 page long novel in general?  How much is our attention span? And would it be more important in Japan than in Europe or in the U.S.A?

With T.V and computers, it seems pretty clear to me that attention spans have decreased a lot
over the last 30 years or so.
It makes perfect sense too: if you grow up watching action sequences rolling before your eyes in fast sequences while you stay passive, reading a book feels like hard work and for a lot of us (children especially) reading would feel too slow for our antsy conditioned brains.

So my question would be: what is the longest book you ever read? And the longest time you sat reading a book?


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Is Hollywood regressing?

Good news! I have officially started writing articles  for a new Irish online Magazine last week.
The moment I heard about it, I thought it was a fantastic idea.
This is its first of its kind in Ireland. It's an online magazine written  by the students for the Students in Ireland. It is called "STUDENTY.ME"
And they intend to go global next year, which would be very exciting.
I will be covering mainly the Entertainment section in the Dublin area.
 Dublin Studenty.me
I have written 3 articles so far, two last week about the floods and a textile workshop coming up in the Culture Box, and one this week covering the late and sad tendency of Hollywood in making movies around Fairytales.

Is Hollywood Regressing?

Being a film buff, I have checked what is going to be in store for 2012 and while the world is trying to get out of our “scarytale”  Hollywood seemingly is getting into fairy tales. In January, we will have the Beauty and Beast in 3D, in March, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, in April, Dorothy of Oz, and in June, the cherry of the cake, or should I say the apple on the cake, Snow White and the Huntsman. 
And if that was not enough, they are adding a drama twist in the tale  of “Jack the Giant Killer”, in June taking an adult look at the Jack and the Beanstalk legend.
And last but not least, the “Rise of the Guardians” in November will take our favorite  group of well-known childhood heroes (Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost and Sandman) in action as our heroes fight against The Boogeyman. 
Yes, you are not mistaken. They are selling us these classic tales all over again as if they were brand new and they are expecting us to pay the brand new price of 10 euro a seat.
Do not forget we’ve already covered “Red Riding Hood”, the Three Musketeers this year, Robin Hood, Rapunzel (Tangled) and Alice in Wonderland last year.
In 2013, I fear we might yet expect to see Three Little Pigs or Goldilocks and The Three Bears. 
For the last couple of years, Hollywood has left us with a sad trail of bread crumbs and I wonder if the audience will keep on following it or if instead the public will find its own way home to a place where the cinema industry is a little more pussy-like than Puss in Boots, a little truer than Pinocchio and a little less soporific than Sleeping Beauty.
How do you feel about Hollywood late choices when it comes to making movies ?


All comments are welcome.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Week 2- I Love Dark YA Blogfest

Week 2  write a 500 word or less short story from this image.
I am not very inspired by this image but I shall do my very best.
The dress is pretty. Like the girl. The drape of daylight white tulle floats almost weightlessly fragile and delicate-looking. Like the girl. The color is white, pure, virgin. Unlike the girl.
Everything everywhere is death. Trees. Ground. Air. Silence.
But "it" won't be fooled. "It" doesn't want to come out. "It" requires energy, precious energy which must be used for better purpose.
But "it" doesn't see very well with these eyes. From the depth of her throat, a growl escapes her. 
She raises the back of her hands and slowly presses them against her closed eyelids. "It" sees at last.
A kaleidoscope of red and green forms through her palms.
Beyond the wall of dead trees, "it" perceives something. Mostly red. Heat. Four hundred meters maybe. Two forms.
The first one. Fifty degrees celsius. Four legs. Biggish. Moving fast.
The second one. Two legs. Thirty seven degrees celsius. Small. Moving at the same speed.
"It" sniffs. 20% smell of sweat, 40% blood, 60% dioxide of carbon, sweet acrid scent.
Another growl, this time of excitement.
"It" releases her.
She drops her arms feeling low, tired and hungry, then takes a sharp 90° degree angle and resolutely walks up ahead.
Beneath her bare feet, dried leaves crunch and branches creak.
In the closing distance, the galloping has slowed down. The horse neighs and shakes his mane. He wants to turn back but a male voice shouts: " What the devil is happening to you, Prussia?"
And then he sees her.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The competition of the Last Chance

"The First shall be last and the Last shall be first."
Well I don't know about that one, but last week I have officially entered the Novel Fair Competition for First time novelists and I know for sure this is the last time for me.
 To save a stamp I decided I should physically drop myself the envelope through the letter box of the Irish Writers' Center. I was in the neighboorhood as well.
I went around 9.00 p.m, after visiting a friend and as I walked toward Parnell Square, I kept wanting to turn around and run straight home.
Another thought kept going around in circle in my mind. It said:
"You're flushing 35 euro good euro down the toilets!"
That is the fee to participate to the competition and by my standards, it's a steep fee. I could make a better use of this money. For 35 euro, I could get 3 brand new hard cover books,or 10 e-books, or 7 pints of Guiness if I was into Guiness, or 10 varieties of cheese which I am into.  Instead I am paying for this competition and what for?
My chances are SO darn slim!
I had visited the Irish Writers' Center earlier on that day and discovered that so far, 170 authors had submitted their first-time novels.
They will select 20 authors. So I have one chance in 10 to get in.

Only I don't know how much the judges are into "YA Fantasy" as they might see the genre too commercial or shallow.
See my dilemna?
And if I did get selected, it wouldn't secure me a way to get published but I will get a chance to meet with agents and publishers face to face and won't have to wait for ever for an eventual answer which let's be honest, might be negative. 
So as I walked in the cold November night in the deserted street of Parnell street and the air is crisp, I am thinking: "Go back, you fool! Go back! You're a dreamer and your story is average. How is it better than the rest?"
Indeed, I can't even think straight anymore. Doubt is making me judgmental and pessimistic. But in fairness, I know there are so many YA Fantasy Novelists right now, the little talent I have might be shaded by the choice  out there. Like a young tree trying to find light among a sea of trees.
But I keep on walking because there's another voice who's saying: "You owe it to yourself. You spent far too much time working on it and this is the first time the Irish Writers' Center is organising this type of event. The first Novel fair ever and this is happening right here in Ireland, right here in Dublin, the city you live in, so you might as well give this book its last chance. And then after that, well... after that, you're done!"
Yes, after that, I'm done. This is OFFICIALLY my last chance. I won't apply to any agents, any online publishing companies or any publishers.
If that doesn't work, I will publish it as an e-book and that's the end of it.
I have sent this to too many agents and I am sick of it. I'm still waiting for some of them to reply to me. But in January, it'll be six months waiting and I'll also get the answer from the Novel Fair so i'll know then if my last chance has passed.
So this is what's going on in my head. I reach the stairs to the Irish Writers' Center and I am hoping for a sign whether I should do it or not, but of course there's no sign and we only look for signs when we are in doubt. So I find the letter box, square and fixed to the wall.
"It is a dirty grim letter box." I think to myself.
I sigh heavily and slip the envelop in. Only it does't get in.
The letter box is designed is such way that the letters can't slip straight but down. So as I push the envelop down, ( the sight of me pushing the envelop in the middle of a street on a saturday night must look very suspicious to outsiders. Maybe this is a sign!)
Eventually, I turn around and look at the sky. The sky is perfectly clear, without any cloud and strangely enough, the moon is vertically aligned with the North Star. (I know this isn't a sign but I still find it rare and nice) so I consider the sky and I consider taking back the envelop. But in the end, I square my shoulders and walk away.
And again with every step that distances me from the letter box, there's a part of me who wants to run back and pull savagely the envelope off the letter box and run home with it.
But I don't.
It's hard though.
I wonder if the volunteers from the Writers Center will ever open the letter box. Maybe they use another one which I couldn't see. Maybe it will lay abandonned for many years and in a hundred year time, someone will notice the old decrepit manuscript.
No matter.
Today is the deadline of the competition
Soon enough I'll find out whether the 35€ were deducted and whether I got rejected or not.

Image borrowed from the cover of Fiona Maazel's book " Last Last chance"
(which I haven't read but is looking good)