Blog Tour


Blog Tour:

A writing friend, Paula Read AKA Champagnewhiskey, tagged me in a blog tour. Paula is a writer and environmentalist, cloud gazer who is located somewhere in France. Her blog is diverse and interesting, of course it is also a great read! Just like Paula, I don’t usually comment on my writing via my blog, although I obviously do write, but lately it hasn’t been as often as is usually normal for me! Anyway, I will endeavour to write about my writing, so thanks for tagging me Paula!

Upon What Are You Working?

I have a habit of skipping from one project to the next. My writing habits match my reading habits actually. Generally I have to be in the mood for whatever it is I read, therefore I often have five or six books I switch between, so to it is the same for my writing!

I have been writing a ‘trilogy’ novel since I was 24, which could be categorised as horroresque, I suppose. I also write short stories, which again have the hint of horror about them, and of course the political press releases and columns I write currently for my work.

How does your work differ from others in the genre?

Well, that I can’t answer! Every writer likes to think they are unique, yet, in reality we are all influenced by what we read and enjoy. I’m not so bold as to claim I’m new and fresh and funky! I haven’t reinvented the wheel here! In my case I know I have a good stock cupboard in my mind, whereby the words and styles of other authors linger as reference points. Authors such as Stephen King, Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, M R James, Robert Bloch, James Herbert, Shirley Jackson and so on and so forth, have been part and parcel of my reading and imagination process since I was tiny! I wrote because of these authors, which might seem sacrilegious to you folk out there, but horror was my first love. Horror made me enjoy reading, and writing, well before Charles Dickens or Emily Bronte ever did. Therefore, these horror authors laid the foundations of my writing style.

If I say one thing about my work or style though, I do like to think that I don’t write artificially, I.E, it’s not just regurgitation of other classic horror tales, regardless of the influence they have had upon me! I also like to remember that horror can be horror in any context, it doesn’t have to be some surreal and fantastical plot or circumstance to unnerve. My style/genre is true to me and what I know and feel; it is always my story, told my way.

Why do you write what you write?

Well, either I write short stories or have to live with a running commentary going on in my mind! I write because I hear, visualise and feel my characters. I can be out walking, and will pass someone or someplace, see something, and without warning I’m inspired and a story begins weaving its way into my mind. From this point I think about the characters and I flesh out the plot. In doing this the characters world becomes stuck in my world, so, I have to write it down or face hearing voices! Does that make me crazy?! Probably, but it works to inspire me, and it always makes the story/plot/character more real to me. If I can’t hear my characters speak to me, then I can’t write the story.

How does your writing process work?

Sometimes I finish a writing project straight through to the end, depends on the length of the story really. In the case of my trilogy novel, it has been some years of editing and rewriting, but amazingly, after what could be a year break from writing it, I can pick up the plot and carry on! As I have said, my characters talk to me! They are ghosts intruding in my reality, and they never shut up!

Usually I do a rough draft of a story on my laptop first, which I then edit until I am finally happy with it. I sometimes write in notebooks too. I love the written word, pen to paper, so often I will scribble an idea or even edit something whilst I am taking a flight somewhere (I’m never without one of my precious notebooks and favourite writing pens)!

I write anytime and anyplace, literally. I have woken up at 3 a.m and been struck by an idea, merely from looking out of the window at a car passing by! If an idea buzzes around inside my head, well, I have to write it down regardless of the unGodly hour or how inconvenient it might be. I must confess, I even used to write my stories whilst at work! No one ever knew, and it was a great way to escape the dull working day!

Who am I tagging?

Well, I’m tagging all of you out there. If you feel so inclined to participate in this Blog Tour Q&A’s then just do it! Please let me know though, as I would love to read what you answer! This might be the lazy option, but cut me some slack as I am writing this on my iPad, and you know I think it isn’t the best tech for long winded writing malarkey!

 

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Quick Stop


This is going to be a quick post, as I’m using my iPad, and it tends to get a little crazy whenever I need to make edits!

I just wanted to stop by my blog, catch up and let everyone know I’m still here, well, not in Madrid, but in the UK.

Yes, I have returned to the UK so I can  do some volunteer work with a political party!!

This isn’t my first stint with a political party. Many moons ago I did something similar, and being given another opportunity to get involved with this type of work once again has made me happy!

If you didn’t know…………….I LOVE politics.

So, if I am a little quiet and don’t get to peruse WordPress as much I would usually, you’ll understand why.

I hope you lot out there are well and being as productive as always?!

Hasta luego and muchos besos!

 

Not My Cup Of Tea


It was a friend of a friends Birthday, and I got invited out for afternoon tea, odd you might think, afternoon tea in Madrid, it’s hardly a place renowned for such little quirks, and you’d be right.

Besides the slim slices of cake and tea offered in a mug, with not even a little teapot to keep it company, it wasn’t exactly The Savoy! Yet, it was a nice change, meeting people over tea and cake rather than beer and tapas.

I must admit, I love alcohol and food. Its practically in my blood; my family are thorough bred foodies and of course I have a strong Irish connection to boot (bad combination)! The only problem is both of these fine things, food and alcohol, don’t necessarily like me very much.

A few years ago I decided to scrap my old ways, in short, junk food was banned and so to was the vodka (et al). This, actually helped me. Physically, mentally and emotionally I felt relieved, it was like a breath of fresh air! I hadn’t realised how good it could be to be free of the shackles of, for want of a better expression, bad living.

Now, I’m no paragon of virtue, I still like to eat burgers and love a good cake and still enjoy a tipple, but since moving to Madrid I’ve noticed how easy it has been for me to slip back into my bad habits. Temptation is everywhere.

In the UK, I would choose not to go to bars, clubs and restaurants. I would meet friends in my home or theirs, we’d go walking, meet for coffee, go to the movies, shop, visit the beach, museums, National Trust properties and so on and so on. I seemed to have the opportunity to do more than merely meet people and friends in bars and restaurants to then eat and drink.

I had friends who were my party pals, they only wanted to get drunk and eat too much junk, consequently we soon parted ways as I didn’t want that lifestyle any more. I’d lived that lifestyle for too long, and frankly I was bored of wasting my money and time on a useless pursuit of what always was unhappiness the day after (hangover, arguments, tired, sick and so on).

Now, you may think, what a boring mare – no, actually I’m not. I enjoy diversity, I enjoy not having to do what other people expect I should do, because they are happy doing it. Yet, here in Madrid, everyone meets for beers and tapas, even a day of pottery making ends up in one of thousands of different bars open until the small hours.

WHY???!!!!!!

I am once again being forced to apply the breaks on this ‘lets have a drink and lets eat all the fat infused food we can find’ ethos, and I’m discovering just how difficult it is to keep up with friends.

Not all of my friends, as some of them get where I’m coming from, but there are those who don’t.

I have friends who just because they are happy to while away their weekends over bottles of booze and then the bathroom sink, they think I should want this too. If I don’t, then the invites to do things just suddenly don’t arrive any more. 

They think, I’m sure, that I’m miserable or purposefully avoiding their company. Well, I’m not, I just can’t physically or mentally do this drinking fest every weekend or weekday. 

If I accepted every offer to go out during the week:

A) I’d be flat broke

B) I’d have an inflated liver the size to envy any poor force fed goose

C) I’d be thoroughly miserable

D) I’d be the size of the Titanic before it sunk.        

What is it about these points that people find so hard to grasp and take seriously?!

Also, my life here isn’t necessarily like their lives.

I don’t work full time, I have a boyfriend I enjoy spending time with (which usually consists of mainly weekends as he works so much), and I also have a life which still exists in the UK too. In fact, I have one foot here in Madrid and one in the UK.  I suppose, in a way, I have more responsibilities than they do too.

No, I’m not taking about kids, but about bills, mortgages, a career I’m once again trying to revive, I’m learning Spanish (still) and they’re fluent already, plus I didn’t move to Madrid to extend my student years (as some of my friends seem to have done).

I suppose I’ve lost the thread here, or the initial thread in any case. I begun with afternoon tea. Well, the people I had afternoon tea with are these friends I’m taking about, and they are somewhat one dimensional in their offer of friendship.

The reason is I’m the outsider. They are 3 friends who know each other through teaching together, and I came to know them through one of the Madrid meet-ups.

Don’t get me wrong, they are lovely in many ways; they are very complimentary, kind and I have fun with them, but, I notice too that they only talk and don’t really listen. I don’t like that, it really is a sign that people aren’t really friends. I don’t enjoy being ignored, or cut short or spoken over as though I’m not important, and they were doing that quite a bit. Of course, they also were eager to depart as they had a drinking fest planned – which of course, I hadn’t been told about or invited to. So, I know, well now know, from our last meeting, that I am an outsider to them. I don’t fit into their type of friendship. I can dip in and out of it, but because I’m not a party animal, I’m not really their cup of tea (well, we all like coffee from time to time don’t we).

So, have I told them any of this – no, I didn’t see the point in really going over the ground with them. I know I can’t sacrifice my lifestyle choices to meet their own, and I know they wouldn’t stop going out or drinking the volume of beer that they do for me. So, it is what it is.

I suppose I feel a bit peeved. I mean I have lost one friend over this already. I couldn’t afford to do what she wanted to do every other weekend. Yet again though, our ideals of friendship clashed. She was looking for more friendship than I could give. I couldn’t be there for her and her alone – I have a life when I don’t see her and I have to maintain that! So, I don’t see her any more and that actually upsets me.         

I think too, I have sacrificed what I really wanted – not having to get drunk and eat junk and be out till the small hours, just to gain friends. How pathetic is that?! I’m too old for that crap! Either people like me for me, or they don’t. If they like the fact I can drink them under the table and stay up all night dancing, then what type of friendship is that? Hardly a firm foundation for me to rely upon.

For me, friends are people you can share everything with. I don’t want a one sided party fest, I’m not 20 any more, I want something connected, deeper and diverse. I won’t settle for superficial.

In saying all this on Saturday I return to the UK again, and this time it will be for two months (a very long time for me). I will then see which friends are left standing when I’m not in the picture for this length of time, and which forget I even existed.

I think the way I have been feeling of late the change of scene will do me well, as I am getting a little narky here (I think this post reflects that well enough), I seem to get ‘itchy feet’ after a few months in one place! God knows how I’ll cope when I don’t have another country to escape to, and am stuck in one on a permanent basis! I always thought I had some gypsy blood in me somewhere!

 

Anyway thanks for reading my rant!! I appreciate it as always.

Hasta luego!!!

Freedom Of Speech?


Everyone has got something to say about how free their speech should be.

However, peoples beliefs, ideas and notions about freedom of speech seem to be in conflict with what it actually is.

Well, what exactly is freedom of speech?

To clarify the mystery let us look at the Wikipedia definition, just so we know we are all on the same page, so to speak:

“Freedom of speech is the political right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas using one’s body and property to anyone who is willing to receive them. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used. In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, as with libel, slander, obscenity, sedition (including, for example inciting ethnic hatred), copyright violation, revelation of information that is classified or otherwise.

The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the ICCPR states that “[e]veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”. Article 19 goes on to say that the exercise of these rights carries “special duties and responsibilities” and may “therefore be subject to certain restrictions” when necessary “[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others” or “[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals”.

Interesting. Interesting also to note I have emboldened certain parts of this text, to comment on obviously, as on the this humble piece of the blog-stratosphere, I have the freedom to speak my own opinions.

The first point to consider states that we have the right to; “Communicate one’s opinions and ideas….to anyone who is willing to receive them”. To me, this statement does not mean forcing your opinions or ideas upon those people, who frankly couldn’t care a less. As we all know, we all have our own ideas and opinions, and of course as is human nature, and the difference of being different, they all differ from time to time. What a shock!

Why then do some people think they have a right, or a duty, above and beyond us mere mortals, to shout their ideas and opinions loudest of all? Why do some people wish to drown everyone else out, and force others to shut up and concede to them? Where is the freedom of speech in that ethos? What makes one person, or people, think their ideas and opinions are superior, and are worth listening to more than anyone else’s? “[e]veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference”, that is what the definition states loud and clear. Perhaps then these people who wish to subdue everyone else, really ought to educate themselves on the premise of freedom of speech, before they speak!

In other words; if you have something to say then make it worthwhile, otherwise, please just shut up and leave other people alone! We’re not listening if we don’t want to, as per our right, according to freedom of speech!

“The right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations”. People often disagree with this, but then of course these people also don’t wish to hear or be informed about other people’s ideas and opinions either. Some people only really want to hear what they want to, and would indeed censor anyone who conflicted with their own ideas and opinions. So, once again, where is the freedom in that??

I would like to know, what is absolute freedom anyway?? Also, why do some people think that their freedom is more important than anyone else’s? Could it be that people claim there ought to absolute freedom when they themselves are censored, because they have something horrible, threatening, bullying and insidious to shout about? Maybe.

This leads me directly to what is censored, and why of course; “the exercise of these rights carries….. special duties and responsibilities………and may…..therefore be subject to certain restrictions……. when necessary……[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others….or…..[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals”. Does this clause, that can limit the freedom of anyone’s speech seem reasonable??? For me, no.

Before people accuse me of having petty despot fantasies, hear me out; this is my freedom of speech after all!!

Consider what damage words can do to a person, their life, their reputation, their happiness and security. Many of us may indeed recall a school-yard bully, who didn’t resort to violence to inflict pain and rule with terror, but only words. The sort of words that are better off never being spoken. The type which are threatening, nasty, damaging and damn right insidious.

Extrapolate this example then into the wider-world, and imagine what damage words, uncontrolled and misdirected can do. The answer is, plenty of damage.

Shouldn’t we all then have a responsibility to edit our words? Consider the content, quality, quantity and intent before we fire the loaded weapon, and expect everyone to just sit back and be OK with it all? If we aren’t willing to allow other people’s words to just fly past our ears without response, then why should other people afford us such courtesy?

I think the moral of this tale is; choose your words carefully, and always, always, expect a response!

A New Year, A New Rant


How was New Years Eve?? Did you have fun and celebrate in style?? Then, when the clock struck 12:00 you beat yourself up for allowing you, and your life, to be such a failure during the past year?? Did you then vow to stick to your new year resolutions, the resolutions that would ensure that in 2014 you become a better person???

Oh dear.

I know New Years Eve can be a strange time. It can often spark melancholy, regret, reflecting on all kinds of good and bad experiences and emotions. We all reconsider what the past year brought us, and how we lived our lives. Can this reflection help us in the new year to come though??? Can regret ever be healthy?

I am not going to tell you to make resolutions or not make them. I’m not going say that 2014 will be your year, that you have the power to transform and achieve. Personally I don’t get all that. I see all of that as negative life assassination, and unnecessary pressure. It is assuming that with the new year we will suddenly all transform and morph into wonder women or men. In 2014 we will definitely be destined to become another person, a wonderful person, in fact a person you were probably never actually meant to be.

Resolutions are very like false promises.

Why is it we always allow ourselves to perceive that the previous year was a failure, a let down, we didn’t perform and weren’t good enough? Isn’t that really what the notion of resolutions allude to – we are all failures, and therefore are required to modify and rectify that at all cost? Why can’t we just be us, and not need to change a thing?

Isn’t the notion of changing, of morphing, of transforming just a little bit delusional?? Just because it is a new year doesn’t mean anything has fundamentally changed. We are still, by virtue of our genetics, who we were upon birth; we haven’t grown extra limbs or suddenly become impervious to disease. We can’t shrug off the past; we all have our individual life experiences, thoughts, ideas, desires and so on.

Why is it with a new year we then become washed clean??

Or, more importantly, why do we want to be??

Isn’t life, from one year to the next, merely about the experiences we have and share, the learning curve, the path we travel, the thoughts and desires, hopes and dreams we harbour?

Isn’t life about those things??

To say we can be transformed, and washed clean assumes that we can all be famous artists, discover the cure for cancer, travel into space, be elected to Government, be an Olympian or whatever else! We are, most of us, normal folk with normal lives – average wages, children, mortgages and wrinkles. No amount of new years will ever change that either!!! We will never really transform.

So, why torture ourselves with pie in the sky -‘this year will be different’ – NO IT WON’T BE!!!!

Sorry, I get that positive thinking and hope are a great combination to have on your side in life, and I do adopt their principles as much as I can. However, I am also a realist and a little sceptical. I wonder how much we can actually change, transform, morph, and wonder if we really want to? If we don’t achieve, create, progress, succeed, dominate and control (or whatever!!!!) why is it seen so negatively? Why is it we can’t be just satisfied with being us?

This year I’m not going to become a millionaire, a success or even a glamour model who adorns the covers of popular magazines. I know that isn’t going to be what 2014 has in store for me.

I know it’ll be more of the same; living day to day, trying to survive, building relationships, trying to maintain motivation, good health and keeping some faith in me and what I want; basically boring stuff, not very inspiring or exciting!!! So, doesn’t matter how much I wish for miracles, money, fame and whatever else, it doesn’t mean it will come to fruition!!

I can make a million resolutions, but it doesn’t mean I can or will fundamentally change!

I’m just trying to say; be real, be kind to yourself and stop applying the pressure to be what you’re not. ALSO, stop viewing you and your life as a failure thus far, see your life as experience and a journey (which won’t be over, until it is over, and your six foot under). Stop stalling with resolutions and waiting for another new year to come and go; live without military precision, live and have fun amassing experiences to reflect on, not to feel negative and guilty about!

Live your life now, while it is here, and see what it brings you! All the ups and downs are welcome, it is life and you can’t just pick and choose the best bits and edit the rest, it isn’t a script after all!

Let 2014 be what it will be – life as we know it!

Jealousy Is The Biggest Compliment


I have been thinking recently about those people, I am sure we are all aquatinted with, who enjoy making little sly remarks, boasting about themselves, feel they have something more to say, enjoy gloating and generally revelling in making those around them feel bad about themselves.

They play a game, a very specific, but a harmful game. A game called jealousy.

Jealousy is destructive, obsessive, consuming and dangerous, but, it is also the biggest compliment anyone can pay you.

For someone to be jealous of you, they must deem you to be a threat, highly important and a person who makes them (the jealous people) feel inferior or appear inferior.

Is this your fault? No, this is their problem and not yours, but they want to aim their problem at you, to make you feel as badly about yourself and your life as they do about themselves and their lives.

If you play their game you will lose. To become embroiled in their inner turmoil you give them what they want, a reaction and ammunition to continue pulling your strings with. This game gives them and their lives some temporary meaning – harsh, but very true.

Many people feel intimidated by those who display jealousy, they often feel they cannot retaliate or they don’t even realise the person who is aggravating, upsetting and being nasty to them, are actually jealous of them.

Yet, 99% of the time, people who suffer bullying, nastiness, bitchiness, lies, back-stabbing and so on, are the victims of jealousy. Jealous causes most of the problems between people, jealousy drives people to do strange things to one another.

I have experienced people trying to hurt me because they have been jealous, and people can and will be jealous of anything! Of course I have also at times played the game of these jealous people, and sorely regretted it. Through this experience I see clearly what the outcome of such things will be, and I avoid those I see that jealousy resides within like the plague! It is difficult though, because sometimes regardless of how impartial, diplomatic, genuine or nice you are, you attract jealousy. Once these jealous people have you in their sights, they point blank refuse to let you go; well, not until they have attempted to wreak as much damage upon you as is possible.

I have experienced their damage too, and believe me, on some occasions the pure maliciousness of the jealousy aimed in my direction caused me great turmoil.

I am however a great believer in karma. What goes around does indeed come around. I have though been lucky enough to see the malignant and jealous individual fall, and was able to inform them I knew their game, jealousy.

Regardless of how much hate they muster, how much spite they spit, how much damage they claim to cause, these jealous people can never escape what they wish they could, themselves. They will always be stuck with them, long after you have been freed from their jealous radar, they will still be the vile creature they always have been. Again, this may seem harsh, but it is very, very true.

I have no qualms in feeling as I do about jealous people. I have no mercy for those who are jealous, because they have no mercy for anyone else. In fact, they take great delight in attempting to destroy people. They therefore deserve nothing more than pity, but not sympathy.

Jealousy I feel is useless though. It destroys, but not only the victim of the jealousy, but the perpetrator too. If only these people could understand that fact, and employ as much effort into changing what they feel bad about, instead of ploughing their energies into jealousy, things would be different.

When all is said and done though, it is only us who tolerate jealousy. In reality, jealousy needn’t have a place in our lives, just don’t tolerate it; call them out, name and shame, publicly humiliate them! Remember too that you are far better than those who seethe with jealousy, and also, karma is always a bitch!

Updates!


Yes, well I thought it about time to update everyone, and anyone interested in recent and interesting events.

Things, seemingly, have settled down.

Is this the power of positive thinking at its best? I am inclined to think so!!!

OK, I have, *cough* and drum roll, officially become an English teacher. How the Hell did that happen?! She asks bemused!

I mean I had to be THE most unlucky and hap-hazard teacher in ALL of Madrid. Everyone else had floods of students, and me, well I couldn’t catch a fish if, well, if I fell in the river and, however the saying goes!

 

Yet, with a little ‘networking’; hehe, get me, a little networking, well I never! Seems that International Politics degree did give me some skills to transfer into my life after all! I’m being cynical, it has worked wonders for me so far, honestly.

What makes the work situation better, is that I am calling the shots. This is the great thing about taking on private classes! Oh, but I may have an interview on Friday.  Just thought I’d throw that one in the mix too! It has taken long enough, so I am EXTREMELY happy!

NO jinxing me, please! Remember, what goes around WILL come around.

So, from all of this soon to be teaching, there is money in the bank? Well, not yet, but it will happen! Yipppeeee! So, I can tick one ‘to do’ off my list then? Hoping so!

The social groups are revealing THE most interesting people. ‘Like attracting like’ (rules of attraction); there I go again, blowing my own trumpet, dear me.

I have met so many people who have just been able to open the relevant doors for me. I actually feel, although reticent to say it allowed, blessed.

For once in a long while, I feel my direction is going in a direction! I feel like I am walking on rose petals and not poisoned thorns, a little dramatic I know, but so true.

There is fertile ground, land ahoy, the storm is over – OK, not over, just a temporary reprieve and I am sure it will resume soon enough. So, I err on the side of caution, BUT, maintain a positive outlook!

I have also managed to meet some pretty cool friends too. I have been a bit of a social butterfly recently, and am loving it! Why not, I am young and although not single, I am free (not cheap, merely free).

The volunteering is still going well, I am chief researcher; ta dah! I maybe a real ‘geek’ , but I LOVE research.

Oh, and I am writing for ANOTHER blog, as a guest writer! This is great, as there is a ready made ‘fan base’. I am so unused to lots of people merely just liking my writing without prompt, I could get used to it!!!!

Finally, but not nor ever will it be THE end of it; my Spanish practice. Mas or menos igual; in other words, it is more or less equal to what it was. Though, I am feeling more confident.

Today I have had to speak to people in Spanish via the telephone. What the Hell has happened to me????!!!! Actually speaking on the telephone in a language I have been quite afraid of using!!! Telephone conversations were posing an obstacle for me on the confidence stakes. Yet, I managed it, although, not in a hurry to repeat it.

Oh, but I have found THE best ‘intercambio’ partner though. She is a Spanish teacher, and so nice. I do feel my confidence to increase my communication is on the rise, yes actual conversation, woo hoo! Watch this space people, anything is possible!