Friday, 18 July 2014

Writing is fun

I feel a bit like a secret agent.  I've just uploaded my third novel to Amazon under yet another pen name, Death in a Lonely Place by P.B. Barry.
The reason I am doing this is because it is a crime novel and my last book Love at a Later Date is a romance, so I don't want to get people confused.

The idea for Death in a Lonely Place came to me nearly ten years ago while touring the Ring of Kerry.  The landscape is so wildly beautiful down there that I wanted to capture some of the feel of it.  I then combinded this idea with a legend about the river Blackwater which is reputed to claim three lives a year (although few people have heard of this).  I simply transferred this myth to a total fictional mountain in Co. Kerry and the idea for Death in a Lonely Place was up and running.  Not quite.  It took a lot of writing, editing and tweaking before I was at all satisfied with it.  It is not a police procedural although I had debated making it into one but I know far too little about the workings of any police force to even try.  I do envy authors who thank all those high ranking individuals with fascinating titles for their assistance. I'm afraid I don't know anyone to ask (said she wistfully) not even a traffic cop.

Someone asked me the other day with raised eyebrows why I write.  She really meant why I waste my time writing but it's a reasonable question since I am neither rich nor famous and never likely to be. The answer is that I have no idea.  These people trample about in my brain and become as real as a wet Monday or whatever, but real anyway as soon as I put down their story on paper.  Sometimes I have to alter their destinies, their characters and adventures but that's the fun of the game.  I love it all.  Of course there are days when my brain refuses to work, when everything I write seems dull and stupid.  But there are those wonderful days when the words flow.  Agatha Christie once wrote in the preface for one of her novels (I think it was Endless Night) that she'd had a lot of fun writing it and wondered if readers could tell this - and she said that a lot of what she wrote was hard work.  What a comfort to know that such a prolific author had her struggles, too.

Be all that as it may, I hope some of my readers will take the time to check out my latest baby, here is the link if you are interested. Death in a Lonely Place

Have a good week everyone.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Happy Chocolate Day on Monday

Monday July 7th is designated Chocolate Day so that all lovers of this sweet stuff can celebrate.  Chocolate is the perfect accompaniment to so many things.  If I've had a really busy week I like to kick my shoes off, slouch on the sofa and have a bar of chocolate with a cup of tea.  Or if I need a bit of time to chill out I'll grab a book, cup of tea and bar of chocolate. 

Or that's what I have been doing in the past.  But since I am determined to lose weight and live a more healthy life, I have restricted my chocolate intake to very special occasions.  I don't even find this difficult, which never ceases to amaze me as I used to be such a guzzler.  We all have depths of strength and self control we never dreamed of, I guess.  Anyway, nowadays when I do buy a bar of that delicious stuff I find that I enjoy it far more than when I ate it more often.  It's a real special treat, a ritual almost.  First of all I enjoy selecting what flavour bar I'm going to buy.  Currently I like mint flavour, so that's what I'll go for.  The week before last I was into nuts and raisins.  Yummy.  Then I give myself plenty of time to anticipate eating it before I finally sit down to enjoy it.  You know what?  No matter how I savour the process, I find it all goes much too quickly.

What makes us want treats in our diet?  The other day when I walking out to the beach I watched some crows circling the refuse bins.  One enterprising fellow pulled out a tinfoil container, plonked it on the pavement, held it down with one claw and pecked the food scraps with obvious relish.  Other crows were fighting over bits of bread or hamburgers or indeed anything of the human food variety that had been discarded.  There is more than enough suitable and dare I say healthy food available to these birds and yet they flock to the bins every evening to see what tasty morsels they can find.
 Point to ponder: what chance do we humans have when the birds like junk food more than what they should be eating?

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Who Reads Romantic Novels?

This post is going to be a shameless plug for my new novel Love at a Later Date. I finally published it on Amazon as a Kindle e-book.   Here's the cover:

 You can buy the book on any Amazon site including
  USA   UK
I've written it under a pen name, Peggy O'Mahony, because I write other kinds of books as well which are not strictly in the Romance genre. 
I wrote Love at a Later Date while house and dog sitting for my brother last Spring. The house was in the country and I enjoyed beavering away at the story and listening to the birds twittering around the garden building their nests.  There is something so joyous and beautiful about the Spring months I always think.  It was great fun and the words just poured onto the page.  Of course I have edited it to within an inch of its life since then and revised it several times. 
The story is about two friends and the challenges they have to face.  If you have grown up kids or teenagers you'll be able to relate to Ginny and Deirdre. 

I'm working on my second Romance novel so any feedback on Love at a Later Date will be invaluable!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Faery Forts and Hidden People - Do we all have secret places?

I recently read on the BBC website that more than half of the population of Iceland believe in or consider it possible that the Huldufolk or hidden people actually do exist.  If left in peace they do not cause any trouble but if people start digging roads through their rock houses and churches they reputedly retaliate.  There are tales of bulldozers breaking down with inexplicable faults and of workmen having accidents.  Plans for the construction of a road through what is deemed hidden people territory were recently halted in Iceland.  You can read this interesting article here.

In Ireland it is often hawthorn "faery bushes" which are deemed to be home to the faeries.  Roads have been constructed around the bushes so as not to disturb them.  Legend has it that whoever cuts down a faery bush will never get a good night's sleep again.  In 1999 the upgrading of a national route from Limerick to Galway in the West of Ireland was delayed, re-routed and eventually opened 10 years later because the County Council in County Clare had to protect a faery tree which according to a local folklorist was the meeting place of the faeries of Munster (Ireland is divided into provinces:  Munster, Leinster, Connaught and Ulster).  Faery forts are also considered to be places where faeries dwell, the term "fort" meaning a mound of earth. Faery forts are the remains of round dwellings from ancient times and are all that now remain.  If you view them close up there is something mystical about them I have to admit. Roads have also been built around these sites so ensure they are not disturbed.

I think it is very refreshing that some cultures believe in hidden people or faery bushes even in our fast-moving technological age.  I think we all have a tiny drop of ancestral superstition in our blood which serves as a link to former ages.  We all have a hidden place deep within us where we like to go at times and be away from the bustle of the world.  Call it meditation, mindfulness, prayer or respect for the faeries.  It gives us an added depth.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Getting Ratty on your Diet?

Who would have thought that rats can feel regret?  Now, now, let's not get cynical,  I mean the four-legged variety of rat.  Apparently scientists at the University of Minnesota have discovered that rats can feel regret as they ponder missed opportunities to eat their favourite things.  The experiment was pretty elaborate (for a rat) and indicated that the animals had an individual reaction to lost opportunities.  If you would like to read details here is a link to the report on National Geographic Ratty Tests.

Is there a lesson for us all here? Are we cleverer than a bunch of rodents?  Do we feel regret at things we should have done or would have done if things had been different?  Points to ponder, I agree.  And yet isn't that a perfectly normal reaction for humans?  How many times have we sighed and said "why didn't I....?"  If we were sure of doing the right thing and making the right choices all the time we'd be pretty boring and unbearable people.

What is far more interesting in this study is not that rats feel regret but that scientists set up elaborate experiments with rodents to prove something we all know anyway, something which, in my opinion doesn't need explanation or analysis.  Maybe the scientists should do a bit of navel-gazing - can you imagine the comments?  "If only we'd used cats/dogs/sheep instead of rats...."  or "if only we'd done something worthwhile with all that time and money..."

By the way, I do not regret eating that chocolate bar last night as I watched the World Cup Soccer match between England and Italy.  Sigh.  If only I could have influenced the outcome....  Someone send for a behavioural scientist....

Monday, 26 May 2014

How to surive your kids - has Spain got the answer?

If your kids aren't listening when you tell them something, it could be "inattentional blindness" according to a recent study.  You can read the full BBC article here.  A lot of mums will think that this is another way of saying they are not paying attention because they have got something better to do.  It's exasperating for parents, of course, but aren't grown-ups just as bad?  How many people do you know who never listen to what you have to say beyond the first sentence because they are too busy thinking up what they are going to say when you have kindly finished?  Yeah, right.

Spain seems to have been giving the matter of children's upbringing some thought.  Under draft child protection laws it plans to make housework and homework for the under 18's mandatory in a section entitled "The Rights and Duties of Children".  Child will also be required to respect their siblings and to "preserve and make good use of urban furniture and any similar assets".  Wow!  If that law becomes successful in Spain and its popularity spreads, it could mean that little Johnnie will get a spell in juvenile detention for taking his little brother's toys or tweaking his sister's hair.  And just imagine the war on home territory that insistence on kids doing housework?  When my two were growing up it was a major effort to get them to put something in the dishwasher.  I would have needed an army to get them to do anything in the way of cleaning, dusting or tidying up.  "Preserving and making good use of urban furniture" sounds intriguing, doesn't it?  I guess it means not smashing park benches and putting rubbish into bins provided. 

If Spain really does introduce all this legislation for its youngsters I think it will open up a whole new industry there.  Imagine parents reclining in the garden under a shady umbrella and sipping delicately at an exquisite white wine, and saying to guests and neighbours:  "The kids?  Oh we packed them off to Spain for a year so they can learn how to behave.  Johnnie's just been released from a week's detention for failure to clean his shoes when he comes in the kitchen and not listening to adults when they tell him something." 
Viva Espana! 

Monday, 19 May 2014

Working Late

I hear that in France there are plans to ban the reception or sending of emails after 6 pm for some professions/businesses.  At this moment in time I do not know if this has been made official or not. At any rate it got me thinking how nice it would be to ban some things in the evening.  Just imagine switching off to your kids as soon as the magic hour arrived?  "You're late for supper, it's after 6 pm, get your own meal" instead of "OK I'll whip you up something" when your twelve-year-old arrives in the kitchen an hour late and with no other excuse than he/she "didn't realize the time".  And what about that friend who always telephones for a chat just as you are settling down to watch your favourite soap - sometimes the only soap you keep up with?  A quick look at your watch and you can refuse.

It's not going to happen is it?  We - women that is - have never really learned to say "no" when asked for help.  That's nice actually.  It means we are not selfish or cold-hearted, we are warm, loving, helpful people - most of the time anyway.  So maybe we do need a rule which tells us when to start thinking of ourselves.  That doesn't mean we don't care, it just means that our kids, our family need to be aware that we require that all important "me time" once in a while.  Dream on everyone.