Poem • Gan Anam (Without Soul)

This poem is inspired by the attempted destruction of the Irish language by colonial oppression and the deep sadness and shame that I believe we feel as a nation. 


This land’s ghosts
step upon our throats
and weep
as we stutter through the words that came before us
and laugh at those with cadent lips

We are a dry tongue
in need of hydration
like a glass awaiting wine

We are a caged bird
clipped of our wings
and stuck beneath the sky

We are concave canvas
on sallow bones
as our land falls beneath our feet
and the voices of our fathers fade
and our birthright dies on our breath.

Timeline Struggles • Writing Thoughts

A few weeks ago I was certain that I’d have a finished draft by the end of February. Well, it’s March now and it’s still not finished, so needless to say I was far too ambitious. I notched my arrow and it flew far past the target. That being said, I’m okay with it. It’s better to do the thing right than do it sloppily in an impressive amount of time.

Although I still have a few scenes to write – tricky ones – the problem for me at the moment is my timeline. I write totally out of order, it’s just something that works best for me. I always endeavour to start out in a linear fashion but to avoid writer’s block I often have to give up on a scene and start a new one to keep my momentum going.

novel timeline

Unfortunately, this tactic leaves me with several different timeline problems.

To give a little information on my book, I have three main characters. Two of them are in totally different social classes but they live in the same country and the other character is a soldier who lives in a neighbouring country. My problem right now is knitting together the different POVs so that they make sense to a reader. The events in the book affect my characters in different ways, but I need to figure out which order the chapters go in before I can call my first draft “finished”.

The timeline is super important, not only to make sure the novel makes sense, but also to create and maintain that all-important page turning tension. It’s a pickle, and it takes a lot more time than you’d think, especially with unfinished scenes.

novel timeline

My plan at the moment is to just finish all the scenes and then summarise them onto cards. Then I’m going to place the cards in a line and move them about as needed. Once I have a narrative I’m happy with, then I’ll put the chapters in the right order. Only then will I consider the first draft finished, so realistically I’m looking at another month of work.

Okay. Plan formulated. Back to writing!

Opinion • Writers Are Artists Too

Writers are artists too. It feels strange to type that out – as though the art community will point fingers and come at me armed with paint brushes to refute my claim – and it’s also a little sad that I feel like I have to.

I thought I’d write a brief post on this because it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

From what I’ve seen, how you write is an art form – calligraphy and graffiti and the like – but the act of writing itself is often overlooked. It’s kept separate, like it’s an entirely different entity, when anyone who’s ever buried their face in a pillow after crying their eyes out at the final pages of a beloved book will know it creates the same emotional response that art does. Books tug at your heart strings. They make you think. They make you see things differently. They guide your imagination and allow you to see a whole world that exists only on paper and in your mind, a world that is unique to everyone.

writers are artists too

We writers weave our thoughts onto a blank page and create whole worlds filled with colourful characters and fearsome creatures never thought of by anyone else. We spark the imaginations of readers and the talented among us plant seeds in those readers’ minds that grow and grow into something that becomes incredibly important to that person.

For me, there was a little seed called Harry Potter, planted by J.K. Rowling, and grown by me and a huge community of fans. I remember staying up until well into the night scrolling on a Potter forum discussing the books, talking about what houses we’d all be sorted into, thinking about all the weird and wonderful things that Rowling created and wishing we could be part of that world. I even set up an appreciation club with my cousin and made her take an ‘entrance exam’ to get in. She had to answer several sheets of in-depth questions about the books and had to achieve a non-negotiable score of 100%.

It sounds a little nutty, but reading and books produce this kind of passionate response time after time, whether it’s love or hate, just like a stunning painting or a sculpture or performance. It’s just a different kind of art. It’s mental, and like all art, it fills your heart and makes you cry and allows you to see things in ways you may not have ever thought of before. Art opens your mind.

The important thing to take from this is that you shouldn’t feel like any less of an artist just because you don’t wield a paintbrush. Writers are artists too, it’s just you don’t stare at a page in a book and see art, you read it and art fills you.

Christmas Book Haul • Books To Read In January

As an adult, I don’t get as much for Christmas as I used to, but I still received some great books from family and friends that I’m really looking forward to reading this January.

I mentioned to my friend that I wanted book 1 in the Grisha trilogy, Shadow and Bone, and it turned out she was my Secret Santa so I finally got my hands on it. My luck is never usually that good! I half-expected to get a generic shower and body set, but this is infinitely better!

My mammy got me The Spire (which I’ve wanted for months!) and Paper Girls 2, which she got for a great discount off Book Depository (a fantastic site to buy books), and another friend of mine got me The Legend of Eli Monpress from eBay. Unfortunately, it’s a little damaged even though he paid for a version supposedly in excellent condition so he’s going to try and get his money back. I don’t mind about some damage as long as I get to read it, so no worries on my end!

christmas book haul

I got Flashfall from December’s Fairy Loot and it looks right up my street. It’s nice to have a TBR list for every month during my book challenge as it gives the year a bit more structure. For 2017, I’ve dropped my goal a little and I’m aiming to read 30 books; I’m absolutely positive I’ll reach it, and if I exceed it then all the better.

Flashfall by Jenny Moyer 

Orion is a Subpar, expected to mine the tunnels of Outpost Five, near the deadly flash curtain. For generations, her people have chased cirium—the only element that can shield humanity from the curtain’s radioactive particles. She and her caving partner, Dram work the most treacherous tunnel, fighting past flash bats and tunnel gulls, in hopes of mining enough cirium to earn their way into the protected city.

But when newcomers arrive at Outpost Five, Orion uncovers disturbing revelations that make her question everything she thought she knew about life on both sides of the cirium shield. As conditions at the outpost grow increasingly dangerous, it’s up to Orion to forge a way past the flashfall, beyond all boundaries, beyond the world as she knows it.

The Spire by Simon Spurrier and Jeff Stokely 

The Spire is a mountain of metal and stone that rises out of the middle of the desert, containing a vast city of twisting tunnels, grinding elevators, and ancient machinery, and home to over a million human and non-human residents. Sha, the last of the Medusi, is responsible for keeping watch over them as Commander of the City Watch, despite the fact she isn’t shown any respect due to her race. When a string of grisly murders is committed just as a new Baroness of the Spire is about to be sworn in, Sha will have to find the serial killer and bring them to justice. But the new Baroness has a deep hatred of non-humans, and Sha will have more than one enemy at her back.

The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron 

Eli Monpress is talented. He’s charming. And he’s a thief.

But not just any thief. He’s the greatest thief of the age – and he’s also a wizard. And with the help of his partners – a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls – he’s going to put his plan into effect.

The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he’ll need to steal some big things. But he’ll start small for now. He’ll just steal something that no one will miss – at least for a while.
Like a king.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Paper Girls 2 by Brian K. Vaughan

The smash-hit series from BRIAN K. VAUGHAN and CLIFF CHIANG continues with a bold new direction, as intrepid young newspaper deliverers Erin, Mac, and Tiffany find themselves launched from 1988 to a distant and terrifying future…the year 2016.

All blurbs from Goodreads! 

What books are you reading this month? Let me know in the comments!

REVIEW • OWLCRATE UNBOXING OCTOBER 2016 – ONCE UPON A DREAM

October’s Owlcrate arrived a few days ago but I was in Lithuania at the time so I only got around to opening it today. It’s lovely coming back to mail, particularly when that mail contains a glossy new book with some cool accessories!

In this month’s box I received a fabric button bookmark from My Heart My Tribe. I got a black and white one which I’m delighted about because I know there was a blue one too but I wouldn’t have liked it as much. Black and white goes with everything!

owlcrate october 2016

I also got a passport notebook from The Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild. There were some pretty fun details included inside that are reminiscent of the movies, which was a nice touch. I’ll add it to my pile of little notebooks I haven’t yet used! You can never have enough!

Owlcrate collaborated again with The Geeky Cauldron to create a bangle charm bracelet inspired by Sleeping Beauty. Personally, that movie scares the crap out of me (the fireplace with the green ball and THAT MUSIC still haunts me to this day). The bracelet is exclusive but it’s not really my cup of tea. It’s still quite nice though, particularly for a fan of the Disney movie!

owlcrate october 2016

I really liked the green beanie from Whosits & Whatsits inspired by the Lost Boys in Neverland. There’s a cute little red feather embroidered on the front and the colours are just perfect coming in to fall and winter.

Finally, the book I received is called Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter, and it came with a signed bookplate and an exclusive tattoo. The book is a darkly atmospheric tale about the magic that occurs in the middle of the night. Based on Russian folklore, this is the tale of Vassa and her magical wooden doll Erg as they try to survive working the night shift at an incredibly ‘imagery’. It sounds really interesting so I’m excited to start reading it this week!

owlcrate october 2016

Overall, the box was pleasant but not very inspiring. I haven’t felt very excited about a box for a few months now so it may be time to move on to another subscription box.

I think this might be one of my last Owlcrates as I’m eager to switch over to Fairy Loot. It’s a little cheaper and the contents seem to be of higher quality so I might continue getting boxes until December and then switch.

Did you get the box this month? What did you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

REVIEW • OWLCRATE UNBOXING AUGUST 2016 – Fast Times At YA High

I just received this month’s Owlcrate and, I have to admit, it wasn’t their best. I mean, perhaps it was for someone really into the romance genre and likes Rainbow Rowell novels, but that’s not me.

I never read romantic books, they’re just not my thing, so I was a little sickened to get PS I Like You by Kasie West. It’s not only a romance book, it’s also set in a high school so there’ll be plenty of tropes and clichés and bitchy mean girl drama. I’m sure she’s a good writer, but I just don’t like books like that. You can’t win them all, I suppose!

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Anyway, there was also a lovely Harry Potter print included that I really love, but that was definitely my favourite item in the box. In close second is a composition notebook with a really unique inside and back cover (it’s almost too pretty to write in). There was also a de-stress colouring book and a packet of colouring pencils, which was a nice addition, but I already have a few of those that I haven’t even opened yet.

There was also a necklace inspired by Eleanor and Park, a book by Rainbow Rowell, but as I haven’t read the book I wasn’t too excited about it. It’s a nice necklace though!

Owlcrate August 2016

Overall, if I knew the contents of this box I wouldn’t have bought it, but that’s the nature of subscription boxes – you DON’T know and that’s part of the fun. Worst case scenario, you don’t like the contents, but then you have a few things lying around to pawn off as birthday/Christmas gifts 😉

Next month’s theme is DARKNESS and I’m very excited. I really loved the Good vs Evil box so I’m hoping the next one will be just as good!

IMG_6749

I was also looking at Fairy Loot because from what I’ve seen they’re right up my street. There’s a waiting list, however, as the box is so popular! So for now I’m going to stick with Owlcrate as it’s a nice monthly treat and it usually brightens my day.

Are you subscribed to Owlcrate? Did you like this month’s box? Let me know in the comments!

Naming My Novel • Writing Progress

If you’re following my Instagram, you’ll know that I’m writing my first novel. It’s a dream that’s been in the making since I was 11 years old, and until now I’ve always made excuses and let my doubts stunt my writing progress. Now, I’m proud to say that I’ve hit 10,000 words, something I never managed to do before.

I used to always abandon writing projects well before the 10k mark, so this is a huge milestone for me, even though others may think it’s a paltry figure. To me, this represents something that I didn’t believe for a long time: I can do this.

Now that I’m well on my way to that 50k minimum target, I want to refer to my project as something more than just a project, or ‘Untitled’ or ‘my book that I’m writing’. I want it to have a name, and I don’t mean the official title of the book, just something I can refer to when I’m among friends and family. Something that makes it real.

I’ve been trying to figure out what to call it, and I think I’ve come up with something I’m happy enough with: M.A.D. (or My Awesome Debut). I figure if I’m going to name it something before I pick an official title, it might as well be aspirational, and I have a major problem with being overly critical of my writing so I think this is appropriate.

So from now on if you see me referring to M.A.D., you’ll know I’m not mad myself and that it actually does mean something! I’m excited to hit that next milestone – 20k, here I come!

Are you writing anything right now? Have you named it? Let me know in the comments!