Tag Archives: writer’s retreat

The Next Big Thing – celebrating my 100!


100

woohoo!

Welcome to my 100th wordpress blog post!
And I’m just 100 or so views from 10,000 so this is a momentous… erm… moment for me!
I was wondering what significant wisdom I could bring to you when I reached the century; and perfect timing – here is my The Next Big Thing post.

The Next Big Thing is an online blogging chain. It helps writers promote and introduce other writers and highlight whatever they are working on. There’s a list of questions to answer and then the writer of the moment picks others to pass the torch on to; or ‘tag them’ to use the technical term…

I’ve mainly seen authors do it and the blog posts have made great reading. I was not a little delighted to be  ‘tagged’ by Trish Nugent! Trish is one of my many Twitter connections that I haven’t actually met. If you use Twitter then you’ll know that there are some folk you chat to more than others. And some you get on with more than others! Trish is one of my Twitter friends that I would love to meet and drink coffee (or wine) with. We’re hoping it won’t take too long for that to happen :)

Trish is a part-time actress and writer, and a full-time wife and mum. She lives in Dublin and you can read her blog here.

So let’s get this show on the road!

My Next Big Thing Well to be honest the next big thing I need to write is my Masters Dissertation. I’m doing a Masters in Applied Theology with the Irish Bible Institute. Before I start a great literary work, or even a terrible one, I need to finish my M.A.
Other than that I have two blogs on the go. I guest post for a couple of places regularly and I also write a regular piece for VOX Magazine. My first article appeared in the Jan 2013 of WHOA Women magazine in the US and I’m hoping to have a regular spot there too. Details of all that stuff can be found here

What is the title of your book dissertation? Well the title is not worked out yet as dissertation titles can be a bit wordy, but it’s something along the lines of “The connection between the attitude to suffering and ‘spiritual development/maturity’ using the Apostle Peter as an example”

HOWEVER, If I were to write a book it might be called something like, “The Chocolate Conspiracy”

Where did the idea come from for the dissertation/book? The idea came from my own experience really. If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I can’t have children. That is the issue that I wrestle with most in my Christian life. I have 27 nieces and nephews and no kids of my own.
I suppose it’s a search really to see if an increase in one’s spiritual maturity gives you a more ‘Jesus-like’ attitude to the sufferings of life. Mine, compared to others are very mild. But they are mine and I haven’t handled the sadness well over the years. I’m hoping that the research and writing of this paper will help me make my journey towards acceptance.

The idea for “The Chocolate Conspiracy” came from a biscuit tin. I was eating a biscuit, from said biscuit tin and I thought… I bet chocolate is actually good for us and that story is being repressed by a South American mafia with connections to Eastern European gangs… Voila! :)

What genre does your dissertation/book fall under?
Dissertation – Christian Spirituality
Book – Crime/thriller/nonsense

Give me the preciouuuuussssss!

Give me the preciouuuuussssss!

Which actors would you choose in a movie rendition of your book?
ok the dissertation is NOT going to be made into a film… but the book?

Well obviously I’ll be played by the guy who played Jabba the Hut.
My psychiatrist will be played by Colin Firth (love interest)
And all the baddies will be played by your woman who played the little dark curly-haired barmaid in Cheers. (There’s a ‘cloning’ subplot that I’m in danger of giving away here so I’ll stop.)

What is the one sentence synopsis for your dissertation/book?
Dissertation – “How did the Apostle Peter go from being the man who tried to stop Jesus from going to Jerusalem and denied him – to the man who wrote 1Peter, such as 4v14 ‘rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ.’?”

Book – The truth they didn’t want you to know… chocolate is good… lettuce isn’t!

How long did it take you to write a first draft?
I haven’t written a draft of either, but it’s all up here. *taps side of head
The dissertation (20,000 words) will hopefully be researched and written in 2013

What other books would you compare yours to within your genre?
War and Peace, Ulysses and The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle

Who or what inspired you to write this dissertation/book?
Dissertation – as I mentioned above, my own experience
Book – as I mentioned above, the biscuit tin. It spoke to me, called out to me in the night, followed me on Twitter… I couldn’t escape!

What else about your dissertation/book might piqué you readers’ interest?
Dissertation – If you’re not into theology, probably not much! But I do hope to answer the question!
Book – Hidden within the text will be a DaVinci type code that when found will actually be a bar code giving you 20% off your next purchase of chocolate HobNobs.
(Terms and conditions apply, subject to availability, all rights reserved, please get an adult to help you when using a scissors etc etc )

When and how will it be published?
Dissertation – well there’ll only be three copies. One for marking, one for the college library and one for my ego shelf. After that it’ll be a pdf!
Book – on papyrus, or that sugary paper you can eat!

OK!!! Enough of my nonsense – let me introduce you to my Three Musketeers
Helen Hamill
– IMHO this lady does not realise what a great writer she is! She has two blogs and her honesty and openness amazes me every time I read her stuff.
Helen was born and lives in Enniskillen. She is a trained teacher, musician and singer. She  holds the position of Director of Music with St Michael’s Church Choir. Her choir performed last year for Her Majesty the Queen, and have recently performed solo on BBC Songs of Praise.
She’s mam to 4 brilliant children and has been married to Jimmy for 24 years.
She tweets (a bit too often she says) @helenhamill
4 words to describe her… direct, honest, hardworking and driven.
She has two blogs, one about a medical condition she is battling her way through http://atleastihaveabrain.wordpress.com/ and one she co-writes with her 12-year-old son who is as he puts it “autistic and proud”! http://autisticandproud.wordpress.com/

Reclaim the Voice – now I don’t always agree with this guy. But I do love what he writes. He has made me laugh, shout at my computer screen in frustration, sit silently trying not to cry and think about things I’ve never thought of.
Here’s what he says about his blog… “This Blog, is a place, where words, thoughts, and feelings will exist, who the writer is, is not necessary, let the words speak for themselves, take them as you find them. Sometimes they will be passionate, political, poetic, however, above all,
hopefully provoking.” Take a look for yourself… :) https://reclaimthevoice.wordpress.com/

Carolann Copland – we met not long after I realised that I should be taking writing seriously. Although I haven’t read any of her writing, spending time at her Writing Centre and learning from her has been just fantastic.
Carolann is the founder of Carousel Creates; offering writing experiences to writers of all ages and lifestyles. She has a B.Ed in English and Drama and has been a teacher for thirteen years. Carolann has learned her writing craft under authors such as Siobhan Parkinson, Patricia O’ Reilly, Conor Kostick, Orna Ross, Niall Williams and Claire Hennessy.
She is a mother of three children aged nine to twenty-one.  Through mentoring writers of all ages; from all walks of life; Carolann is happiest when she is sharing her passion for writing.
Website: http://www.carousel-creates.com Blog: http://www.carouselcreates.wordpress.com
Twitter: @carouselcreates

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A Win-Win Weekend!


I won a signed copy of Louise’s book while I was there :)

Last weekend I went to a wonderful Weekend Writer’s Retreat in Carousel Creates. I met some great people including the lovely Louise Phillips, author of Red Ribbons.
 
I’d actually won the weekend. When booking a 1 Day Retreat, I entered the competition on the website. The challenge was to write a piece entitled ‘I am a Writer’ – 300 words or less. I knew I wanted to be one, but wasn’t sure that I could say that I was one…
 
So I wrote something quickly and entered the competition before I had time to change my mind… and it came 1st… yeay! Here it is :)

I am a Writer

I said if for the first time recently. It was actually in a fairly heated email exchange. I was trying to explain to my friend why my Facebook page was suddenly flooded with mentions of my blog and other stuff I’m working on. Typing fervently on autopilot I said “Maggie, I am a writer! That is what I do and it just happens that lately I’ve had more opportunities and I’ve wanted to share that…. !

Reading back before hitting the Send button I was shocked at that phrase. “I am a writer” I couldn’t believe I’d said it out loud. I’ve been wanting to for so long. But there’s a voice in my head, telling me how presumptuous I am to even think it.

When I meet new people I introduce myself in terms of my work, my husband and my faith. I never put ‘writer’ into that initial summary of who I am. Eventually talk of my blog will come out, or I’ll start to talk about my MA studies and what I hope to do afterwards. Once someone actually said…
“You’re not Annmarie Miles who writes for Vox are you?”
Yes that’s me… quite happy for you to say it, but I couldn’t possibly…

So who decides when a bloggette, a woman with a head full of stories, a gal who can run you up a song as quick as a sandwich, a complicated missis with the desire to make folk laugh but not be laughed at…. who decides when she can call herself a writer?

Maybe I can give myself permission to say it out loud. I just need to practise saying it in the mirror. I need to get used to the sound of my own voice uttering those words.

YES! I. AM. A. WRITER!

I want to wriiiiiiiite!

 
From November 1st I’m going from full time to part time in my job. So I’m going to have a lot more time. I feel the need to take this writing stuff seriously. Watch this space…
 
 
 (Please note: you’ll probably be ages watching this space before anything happens – feel free to go off for a coffee or something. The space will most likely still be here when you get back :D)

What a Day!


Well folks my Grafton Media Blog Awards Ireland journey has ended for this year – as I haven’t made the finals. Big thanks to the organisers who have been working very hard. And they’re not finished yet! Congratulations and best of luck to all the finalists! Keep an eye on #bloggm for further updates.

Despite the disappointment, yesterday was a fantastic day. I spent it at a Carousel Creates Writer’s Retreat. It’s a fabulous place in the most idyllic setting. The views are as promised, inspiring.  I met a small group of writers, all at different ages and stages of life and writing. It was great to chat and learn from others. There was plenty of coffee, lovely food and a walk up towards (but not all the way to) the Hell Fire Club. (For those not familiar with the HFC, its an old building with some interesting history, perched on Montpelier Hill in the Dublin /Wicklow mountains – google at will ;))

One of the beautiful views I could see as I was writing and thinking about writing :D

The main aim of the day was to get some serious writing done. So although we walked, talked and ate, we spent most of out time typing/writing away. I had asked on FB and Tw for suggestions for titles of short pieces to write in the morning session. I wanted to see how well I could ‘write on demand’. I’m used to being able to pick my own titles… So of the long list I ended up with, I picked 4.

This is normal life, it’s not easy – suggested by Trish Nugent
The hardest thing I ever had to do – suggested by Karen Mulreid
There’s a mouse in the house – suggested by errrr, can’t remember (or find it on FB/Tw)
The Redemption of Knicker Elastic – suggested by Rhoda Doyle Yeomans

There’s some voting on FB as to which one goes up first… add a comment if you want to pick one. There were plenty more and I’ve added them to my pot of ideas for the future. :)

I had decided that in the afternoon, I was going to spend time thinking about the ‘humour’ side of stuff I write and try to work out if it’s something I can do ‘on demand’ or something I can only do spontaneously when I’m in a good mood. But a conversation at lunch changed all that. We started to talk about Moone Boy; how Chris O’Dowd had written this story based on his childhood, but not totally autobiographical.

Me and my niece around 1978 I think…

That got me thinking about a biography based on my dad’s life rather than a real life biography. But then with so many in the family it would take me years to get the ok for each chapter ;) Then I thought… well someone else then! Who’s life can I write about that I won’t have to get the ok for? Oh… yeah… me..! So I spent the afternoon randomly scribbling the first few thoughts on a story based on my own childhood. I took memories that I have and merged them with a bit of made-up stuff. I genuinely don’t know if I have a talent for fiction but I think this is worth giving a go. Who know… I may end up with classic… Moone Girl maybe? I might even drum up the courage to post a section of it on the fiction blog… someday!

I ended yesterday with a host of new ideas. It was a great salve to the ouch of not getting into the finals. So… I shall write on ;)