Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Belated Valentine's Day.

A little late but here is a little romantic story for you. Happy Valentine's everyone.



"Miss Benton, you were late again this morning!"
The monster was back. Standing in the middle of her office, her boss, Mr Payton had stormed in just as she was getting ready to bring the file to his office.
"Sorry Mr Payton, it's Mac...I told you about him..."
“Miss Benton, is this file ready or not?” he interrupted icily.
She flicked through the last report she had typed for him and gathered them in a file. If he knew how many times she thought about him while typing reports, minute meetings, correspondence and newsletters for him, it would put to shame the most productive dreamer.
A word for a thought. Since she typed fifty words a minute, on a daily basis that would make her think of him…well…way too many times!
“Mrs Benton, I think those pages are well stacked together now!”
“Sorry, I’m a little distracted lately…I suppose it’s because…”
"I'm not paying you to hear your love life, am I? ..." he barked furious.
She gazed at him shocked. Today the monster was at its worst. In fact in the last few weeks, he’d been as irritable as hell. Looking straight into the blue eyes, she wondered how someone could have such clear blue eyes and a temper as dark as he did.
"Mr Payton, I'd like ..." she began.
"Yes, what would you like? I, for a start would like this file..."
Slightly annoyed, she took a deep breath and handed the heavy file to him.
His long elegant fingers clasped around it. Without a smile, without even a thank you, he glared at her.
"And one piece of advice, leave your personal life where it belongs, outside this office!"
How dare he!
His love life was all the fourth floor could speak about and he dared to give her lectures?
She suddenly pulled the file back.
Now it was his turn to be shocked.
"Mr Payton…” she cut him, “I'd like to make something very clear. My love life is my own. And if you were as discreet as I am, I with the rest of the staff wouldn't have to put up with half of the gossip which concerns you!"
Mr Payton smiled. When a minute ago he looked furious, her boss seemed now delighted with her reply.
"Ah jealousy at last! it took you some time!” he said gleefully.
"What? You think I'm jealous of those rumours? Of a tyrant who has nothing to do all day than harass people around him!"
"Not people, Miss Benton, just you!"
"You're deliberately harassing me?" she asked her eyes wide.
For the first time, Mr Payton seemed ill at ease. He ran a hand through his black jet hair and let out a loud breath.
"Anything to bring your attention back onto me..." he said deliberately slow.
She watched with fascination the slow movement of his hand and finally caught herself.
"'re a manipulative selfish individual and I've just enough of you...! I quit!" She flattened out the file on her desk.
He gave her a startled look.
For a second she felt liberated and victorious. Her eyes flashed as she defied him to do anything about it. Yet the feeling didn't last as a slow smile began to form on his full lips.
"Yet my hands are still empty! The file, Ms Benton!"
"You!! You'll have to get it yourself!"
He crossed his arms full of arrogance.
"If you want a nice reference letter I suggest you hand me this file right now!
Blackmail? He was going to blackmail her if he didn't do as she was told?
To hell with him!
She flung her coat on her shoulders and walked around her desk.
He was watching her every move. His lips thinned.
"So? Do you really want to take the risk of never finding another job? Because I will make it happen!"
She jerked her head up to look at him. Towering over her, he never looked more menacing.

The rest is available for Free on Smashwords.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I've heard of a fine irish poet and...

 ... found he was already dead.

I found out that Michael Hartnett, (1941-1999) was one of the most unusual voices of late twentieth century Irish poetry.
So sadly, it's a little too late to get to know him now.
But not all is lost.
Anyone can get acquainted with him again either by reading his biography on his website or by writing a poem for him.
The Limerick Writers' Centre in association with Limerick County Arts Office are looking for poetry submissions relating to the poet Michael Hartnett for a special publication to be released later this year.

The Limerick tea-boy who worked in the construction industry in London started his love affair with the Irish Language and never let it go.
The Bio ( 3 page long) says about him:
In 1975 Michael published a collection called "A Farewell to English". In this he proposed to stop writing in English and to "court the language of my people" by writing solely in Irish. Nice expression.
At the time this as a very controversial move, which alienated Michael from many literary circles.
(fair play to him)
In the early 1980s, alcoholism started to take hold of Michael his writing
(ah the joy of being a real writer!) and personal life suffered immensely.  In 1984, Michael’s marriage broke down.  (ah the joy of being a real writer!! ;-)))

He wrote both in the Irish and English language and was a prolific translator. He also was the first Irish poet to use the Haiku form, a form that is now very popular. We are looking for poems (in Irish or English) that feature, reference or are dedicated to Michael Hartnett. If you have written such a poem and would be interested in having it considered for inclusion please email it to  with Hartnett in the subject box, together with your biographical details. for further information on the poet.

You can check the details on Facebook too.
Good luck and keep on writing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I met with the Poetry Bus Master Driver and...

...I was impressed by his humility.

Oh sorry, yes, I don't think I shared the good news with you, (apart from the fact that I got two new followers: Welcome Adhi Das and Perdita, thanks for joining this blog) one of my poems got selected to be part of the prestigious PB!!!
( No PB doesn't stand for the President Budget or Paddle Board) It's the Poetry Bus issue 3.
And it's rather a privilege.
Even the Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter, Roddy Doyle was in it.
The author of the The Commitments (made into a movie in 1991) didn't illuminate the PB3 book launch by showing up but a few others did.
The Poetry Bus started off as a blog which started off as a thread on the website of the Stinging Fly.
The blog's concept was simple.
Every week a poet would drive the bus by writing up a poem.
Soon the blog got quite popular and a first magazine, PB1 was released on the 17November 2010.

Then PB2 soon hit the road and was launched in the Glor Session (International Bar) in Dublin on 22nd Aug 2011.
Adam Neate did the cover for PB2 and I was very impressed to find out that he was  a British painter, conceptual artist and one of the best known street artists in the world. He specialises in painting urban art on recycled cardboard, and has left thousands of works in the street for anyone to collect.

And then PB3 came driving full speed thanks to the brilliant master driver Peadar O'Donoghue who funded, promoted and built the Poetry Bus Magazine and CD for the third time.
The legend said there was much weeping, wailing, swearing and pulling out of hair and teeth as he (they) set to the task in a lonely shed in the Wicklow Hills to put this magazine together.
Even though we exchanged emails before the publication of PB3, I had never seen him in person the Master Driver of the Poetry Bus so on the book launch (In the Monday Echo - International Bar) it was a pleasure to meet him in person.
He sounded as enthusiastic in flesh as in his emails.

The cover this time was done by Sally Diamond which is deadly.
There are again an incredible variety of over 60 poets and for the drawings/sketches: Padhraig Nolan, Una Gildea, Crona Gallagher, Kevin McSherry, David Rooney and Elena Duff.

Poetry and illustration, an incredible CD of poems and music, all packaged in hard backed envelope and posted to anywhere in the world for €10.
If anyone wants to buy one copy, they can contact and they are looking for submissions for issue 4.
For More Details:

Friday, February 10, 2012

I met with the Gruffalo and...

Two weeks ago, I met with the Gruffalo and....I survived. ;-)

It was a bit of big deal.

I mean, the Gruffalo has big yellow eyes, big teeth and big claws and all...
But I plucked up my courage and decided I should meet with it.

The meeting was in the Royal Irish Academy (yes a grand place for a grand monster!)
It was on Monday the 23rd of January 2012 in Dublin, Ireland.

I meant to write about this "Monstery" event for a while and then life took know how it goes.
Anyhow, I wasn't exactly meeting with the Gruffalo but its maker.
Julia Donaldson,  English writer and playwright, best known as author of The Gruffalo and other 157 children's books, has sold over 3.5 million copies in 31 editions worldwide with the Gruffalo alone.
The story has been adapted into a 30 min animation movie, which  received both an Academy Award[1] and a BAFTA nomination and is widely popular amongst kids and parents.
It has also been made into a play in the Lyric Theatre in London for the last 5 years and will be touring around UK this year.
So it is safe to say that Julia Donaldson has been a success hence why she has been appointed UK Children's Laureate for 2011 to 2013.

So Julia Donaldson was coming to Ireland to join in conversation with our local Laureate, Siobhan Parkinson, Laureate of na nOg for 2010 to 2012 (Irish Children Laureate)  

Siobhan wrote 20 children books & won national awards. She is also an editor and publisher but I let you read more details on wikipedia link I provided.

So we got to hear Julia and Siobhan talk about their public role as children’s laureates and the importance of libraries in schools. Siobhan discussed about the availability of books in native tongue for non-English kids and in English. She also covered the importance of books for visually impaired kids (because she is herself visually impaired).

Julia on the other end, explained of her love of drama and her eagerness to make it accessible for kids.
She studied Drama at the University of Bristol hence why it came naturally for her to write rhyming children stories.
It was rather enlightening.

Naturally the audience was largely female. After the talk, the audience could buy a book and get it signed.
I had watched the animation of the Gruffalo and the Gruffalo's child and I wanted to read something new so I bought a copy of the "Stick Man". 
This is her, there signing my book.
As for Siobhan, she was releasing a book called "Bruised", a gritty novel set in contemporary Ireland, about a boy, 14-year-old Jonathan who runs away with his sister after she's been hit by their alcoholic mother.

Then half of the audience crossed the street and walked into the very posh "Cafe en Seine" for a drink.
This was more interesting even! I got to talk to with other writers, artists, illustrators and some of the hard little fairies who worked at the CBI,  Children Book Ireland.
All and all a very good day.

Retrospectively and since the conversation between both Laureate was moderated by Dr. Amanda Piesse of Trinity College of Dublin. I did a research on Mrs Amanda Piesse.
I discovered that she has a PH.D in English. Amanda Piesse teaches across a wide range of sixteenth-century literature with a special interest in early Tudor drama and protestant polemic prose. She has a special interest with Shakespeare & literature for Renaissance & children.
I found out this way that she is currently supervising research about Shakespeare and conscience, Shakespeare and madness, Irish writing and the school curriculum for children, Irish history in children's literature and film.
You can't get more specialized and educated than that!

As for Siobhan, I did a research on her and found that she had completed her PhD on the poetry of Dylan Thomas.

This made me wonder about how great can a great writer be? and when was the last time you met with a preminent figure and felt intimidated by it?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sofas I've slept on...

Do you feel like a lie in or are you up for a challenge?
Well you can try both!
There's a new writing project kicking.
A website called "Sofas I've slept on" is looking to create an anthology and they are calling for submissions.
Your mission if you accept it is Tell them your story.
What brought you to them, as simple as that; It can be a happy, sad, silly, or moving story but it has to be written in first-person and be family friendly; 
They are looking for Submissions from writers of all levels of experience and a published book is their end goal.

Deadline: March 20, 2012
1.  Essays must be an original story (unpublished)
2.  Essays must be 2,000 words or less
3.  A captivating writing style and story
4.  One sofa per essay please

And yes, I believe it's a free entry. No fees!

Friday, February 3, 2012

A series of unfortunate events

On a crispy sunny morning, I walked out of home and took my bike happy to meet a blue sky.
It wasn't any morning. It was this morning.
And it was my first day to work.
New job. New day.
Was I a little nervous?
Not overly so. I had been told this "office" had a pretty relaxed atmosphere and from visiting the "office", it seemed that way.
So this morning, I woke up, got ready and hoped that I would catch up the right bus.
Previously, 4 days ago, I had tried to get my head around the journey and timetable of that one bus that will get me to work.
Information on Buses in Dublin being as they are, I couldn't figure out what time that bus would arrive at "my bus stop", which journey it would take, how long it would take to get there and which side of the road I should wait for it.
That bus, we will call it, "The Yellow Mystery Blur" or for short, the YMB. The YMB was:
  • A mystery because I never had to take that bus before and therefore knew nothing about it.
  • yellow because that's the Dublin Buses for you.
  • and a blur because when you're on the wrong side of the road and no one is getting on them,these buses pass in front of you like a blur.
So I was hoping that with the right amount of luck and timing and waiting (I was prepared to wait), I shall catch that TYB one way or another, and will figure out which way to go.
Unfortunately this morning, the battery of my alarm clock was flat. Consequently I woke up twenty minutes late.
So when I realised this, I started to speed up my action mode. Despite this, I knew I wouldn't make it so I thought: "Better just take the bike instead!"

It was a beautiful morning so I didn't mind. I got my back pack and stuffed my lunch in it. I put my gloves, hat on and off I went.
Within two minutes, I reached the main road and that's where I saw that damn TYB passing me by!!!
I dropped the bike immediately and ran across the road to stop it. This was my only mean to get information: to ask the driver at what time he usually gets here for the 8 am shift. As I knew I would start earlier next week.
But as I reached the other side of the street, I saw no one was at the bus stop and despite my waving, the bus driver didn't care and drove like a maniac in front of me.
So that was my information gone.
So furious, I cycled up the road and swore at my bad luck and that's when I realised something very cold was touching my right hip.
The weather being sunny, I wasn't sure what was happening so I stopped to check.
And noticed it was raining from my back pack.
I didn't know I was wearing a cloud on my bag!
Or more specifically, in my rush, I had forgotten to snap the top of my bottled water close, hence the rain on the specific region of my hip.
And of course, when I opened my back pack, there was my lunch floating in an enclosed puddle.
So as you can imagine, I wasn't very delighted with myself nor did I had the time to wait that the water seeped through the bag so I had to remove my watery lunch ( and one very wet muffin) on the side of the road and turn my bag upside down.
This created a nice waterfall and for a moment, I laughed at the whole ridiculous situation I was in.
Nevertheless, I got rid of the water, put the remaining of my much heavier lunch and bag and set it on the handlebars because it was still very wet.
But that's not all.
Half way through my twenty five minute journey cycling, the chain of my bike jumped as I changed gear.
I then started to laugh out loud. And decided that this was definitely not my day.
I had to turn the bike upside down ( like the bag) to fix the chain and then mounted the bike once more and hope to God it wouldn't jump again.
It didn't.
Surprisingly and despite all this, I arrived right on time.
But of course that wasn't over.
The girl who was to help me with my training had problems logging to my new p.c and later on to get access to some shared network drives.
The password wouldn't work. And it took half an hour for a technical person to fix these problems over the phone.
In the meantime, I asked to be excused since she didn't need me. And I decided to set things right.
I dried my bag, my lunch, threw half the sponge (I mean the wet muffin) in the bin. I looked at the whole lot and then at the new kitchen office and decided that I liked it.
I felt things were right once more, that the balance of my universe had been reset and the rest of my day went more or less fine after that.
But what a day!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A "fill the gap" writing exercise

I know. I know. I know.
I haven't put a post up in ages.
The truth is I didn't feel too inspired or too motivated.
I am still not.
But as they say, I'll get back on the horse.
Here is a writing exercise I did a couple of months back with a writing group.
We had to start writing, then pass it on to another writer who had to keep the story going until time run out. It is hard to believe that 3 different people wrote this piece but yet it is the truth.
The telescope was small, the moon high.
He gazed up, first getting to the magic of it with his bare eyes. He had been waiting for this moment all his young life.
His father next to him proud to see his son's lifelong dream finally about to come true. All the sweat and hard work saving up all that money, to this moment, a moment of a small boy's dreams, but a moment of happiness.
The boy took a step forward into the shadow of the telescope swallowing him whole, feeling smaller than ever before. Glancing slightly back at his father.
He found focusing the telescope far more difficult that he had anticipated. A fear suddenly gripped him.
"What is the moon?" the boy asked.
Unsure of how to answer the question, his father slumped down on his knees and offered a distraction
"was that a shooting star?"
The boy jumped.
"It's gone now. You have to pay more attention to things!"
"But what is the moon?" the boy asked again.
"What is the moon made of, you mean? Because I can tell you straight up! It's made of cheese!!"his father added with a wink. "Have you not seen Wallace and Gromit?
"Dad, it's not funny! What is the moon?"
"Son, you know the answer to this. You've studied it long and hard enough to know. What you mean is:what if the moon is not what you want it to be?"
The boy looked up to his father and nodded.
"Well, son, you know... You'll always have expectations and they might rise to what you had in mind but then again, they might not. But the one thing is that is certain is you'll never know unless you try!"

So have you done this type of writing exercises before and did you find them fun? successful to your liking?