Easter rising Centenary, The Soothsayer

I’m rousing my blog from it’s hibernation in time for the 1916 Easter rising Centenary.

I will return with a post about what I’ve been up to but for now I will share my 1916 flash fiction story called “The Soothsayer” which originally appeared in Sixteen last November.

The Soothsayer – Emmaleene Leahy

Flames lick the sky ravenously and ribbons of smoke entwine to inform the gods that ours is a city under siege.

Begrudgingly attractive, our city is aware of its own shortcomings, built on the ability to embrace failure.

Eyes sting and weep as I squint to witness the attempts of the rebels to release us from the leash of an invisible king, his greed tempered by privilege.

Their dignity dismissing the danger, daring to dream of the impossible.

After the inevitable executions and disintegration of monuments, I will bring possibilities here.

I survive at an angle to the moment, at the edge of the endeavour. I bide my time quietly to insinuate my way into the future, etch out the living words from the soot of the dead. I will unwrap from the debris, a redemptive language, to recover the meaning of our existence, to resonate in an enduring dimension.

 

Emmaleene Leahy’s work appears in FlashFlood, Wordlegs, Eating my Words, The Scum Gentry, Boyne Berries, 100 Words 100 Books, The Ogham Stone and elsewhere.

Successful in competitions with Carousel Writers’, Fish, RTE Guide/Penguin Short Story, The 99, Twisted Tales, #PDHorror , Brilliant Flash Fiction, Liberties and Original Writing.

Blog: https://emmaleene.wordpress.com

Twitter: @Emmaleene1

 

 

 

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SECOND CHANCE, A SHORT STORY ANTHOLOGY

Delighted to be chosen as a winner and have a story included in this exciting anthology. Looking forward to the launch tomorrow evening!

Deuxiemepeau Poetry by Damien B. Donnelly

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It’s here. Over the summer months, http://www.originalwriting.ie launched three short story competitions and chose 10 winners from each to create its short story anthology 2015.

On Friday 6th November 2015, in Dublin’s Central Hotel, ‘Second Chance’ gets its rousing Irish launch.

Paris take a breather, Dublin here I come…

Original Writing are an Irish self publishing company, founded in 2006 and based in Dublin. They also run regular competitions to encourage and promote upcoming writers. Check out their website for details on their self publishing packages, resources and an unmissable blog with help, hints and everything a writer needs to know.

This is the book, in a box, printed, published and waiting to be read. Roll on Friday…

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#GetWriting #GetReading

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Thames Way by Diarmuid Fitzgerald, launch info and sample haiku

Looking forward to Diarmuid’s launch On Thursday. Me and Diarmuid are members of the Kilroy Kids’ Writing group, a small group of six that meet at least monthly usually in the Irish Writers’ Centre to give each other support and feedback. Can’t wait for the launch !

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Lessons

Here’s a story to mark my granddad’s 10th anniversary. It’s a story called Lessons, Originally published in Cake.shortandsweet, issue 5, October 2012.

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My granddad was going to be a priest. He was doing his training when he met my grandmother and that was the end of that. They got married and had thirteen children.

He was a very religious man. When interviewed on a local radio station for their fiftieth wedding anniversary, he said it was God and their faith in Him that had kept them together so long. He gave out communion at mass and kept the church and graveyard immaculate. He did whatever needed doing: cutting the grass, weeding flowerbeds, pruning roses. He filled the echoey church with the abundant blossoms from his garden. Dahlias dripped over the edges of white stone handrails and marble altars. He did more for his church than any priest.

I loved going over to Granny’s. I can still hear the squeaky whinge of the gate and see the dog running towards me. Having heard the car, he’d be waiting and barking; ready to jump up on you and lick your face off until Daddy gave him a kick.

I remember the very early days when they both smoked, him his pipe, her Sweet Afton. When we walked into the house, the air would be warm with the sweet musky smells. Those smells lingered on for years. I don’t know why we always called it Granny’s. She was the boss I suppose. Granddad was a messer. He loved children. He was always making us laugh doing tricks with his false teeth. We loved it. When he worked as a postman you’d hear him coming because he was always whistling. He was always in good humour. He’d be joking with us and Granny’d say,

“Don’t mind that lad.”

“What’s she sayin’ about me now?” Granddad, straining to hear.

“He’s only a blaggard,” she’d mutter over her knitting. Granny knitted us jumpers and cardigans, scarves and gloves.

We loved running free in the open spaces out the back amongst the apples and gooseberries and rhubarb and peas and spuds. Mammy would try to get us to calm down but they’d say to let us off. We could eat what we wanted. We usually left with swollen bellies and bagfulls of apples. Often we’d have fistfulls of little blue biros aswell.

“Bring them off with ye. That lad is always bringing them yolks home,” Granny’d say. Then grandad’d appear from the other room.

“What’s she sayin’ about me now?”

“How well you heard that,” she’d say.

Back then pens and biros were precious things. We weren’t allowed to write in biro. It had to be our fountain pens in joined writing. Our teacher was strict about it. If you forgot your fountain pen or ran out of ink cartridges you were in trouble.

Our teacher was also in my grandparents’ prayer group. She always started the school day with prayers. She usually had something that she wanted us to pray for; her son who fell off a horse or her grandson who had leukaemia. All she talked about was God and religion. She especially despised hypocrites and talked about them a lot. They were the worst type of sinners she said.

She gave us impossible amounts of homework. I’ll never forget the feeling of panic, the leap in my stomach when I’d realise on the way to school that I’d forgotten to do some of my homework. She had her favourites in the class and then she also had those that she like to pick on. I didn’t want to get into her bad books. She could be cruel sometimes.

When I think of that classroom I think of sweaty palms and runny noses with no tissue or bursting to go to the toilet and not being able to concentrate . We were forbidden from asking to go to the toilet during class. That was another thing that made her furious.

One day she told us all to close our eyes to see what appeared to us. I think she was hoping that God would send her a message through one of our visions. I saw nothing just darkness. She asked everyone what they saw. I panicked when she asked me. I didn’t dare tell her I saw nothing. I lied. I told her that I saw lots of ropes winding together and as they wound together they became one stronger rope. She was impressed.

I got in trouble when the teacher collected up our good hymn copies and saw that my little sister had scribbled on it. She was furious. I was ordered to buy a new copy and rewrite all of the hymns. I bought a new 120 page copy and began the rewrite.

We took down new hymns everyday in Irish, Latin and sometimes even in English. I dreaded it, terrified that she would remember my copy and ask to see it. I still hadn’t caught up but was skipping pages where I planned to.

“Hymn Time,” she announced almost in song on a sleepy afternoon.

We knew the routine and took out our copies and fountain pens. When I took the lid off mine, the nib was buckled like someone had stabbed a wall with it. My sister must have got her hands on my schoolbag again. I tried my best to bend it out but there was nothing I could do to get it working. All I’d managed to achieve was to cover two pages of my copy and the ones under them in ink. The girl beside me forgot her spare one. I didn’t know what to do. I was going to be in so much trouble.

The teacher was still scribing the hymn onto the blackboard, standing back into her white dust halo and tilting her head to admire her own work. The rest of the class stooped over their desks carefully scribbling it down.

I silently removed the damaged pages and hid the evidence in the bottom of my schoolbag, down with something mushy. I searched my pencil case again. I couldn’t use my pencil then she’d know I hadn’t my pen. I rooted through the front pockets of my schoolbag seeking what I knew not to be there; I had no other fountain pen. In those pockets I found the little blue biro my Granny gave me. It’d have to do. I developed a strategy; every time she walked by I’d close my copy with the little biro inside and pretend to be blowing my nose or getting something from my bag.

Before I knew it she was standing at the top of the room in a pose I spent my days looking forward to. Her arm was outstretched waiting to bless herself and begin the evening prayers before we went home. All of the messing around had delayed me and I wasn’t finished. I had to hurry before she noticed. With three more words to take down I abandoned the cause. Leaving the pen inside my copy I flung it into my schoolbag. As I did the biro went flying from inside the copy through the air and across the room only to land and scuttle like a mouse across the ragged wooden floorboards and stop at the teacher’s feet.

“What the hell is this?” she shrieked, lifting the class off their feet with the fright. I wanted the collective silence to swallow me.

“Who owns this I said?” She stood with the offensive article in the air, her lips pursed in disgust.

“I own it, Mam.” I delicately raised my hand.

“Well, I don’t ever want to see you use that in this class do you understand?”

“Yes Mam.” I bowed my head.

“Ok so. In the name of the father and of…” She went on with her routine, blessing herself like a conductor guiding an orchestra.

One day she asked us what our favourite animals were. I didn’t have one but I had just read Black Beauty. When I told her a horse she looked at me with a condescending smile and tilted her head to one side.

“Your Grandfather likes the horses doesn’t he?”

Having never seen him with a horse in my life, I didn’t understand. I shrugged my shoulders and in fear said,

“I don’t know.”

I do know now however what she meant by that comment. She knew exactly where my biro came from.

She never did collect my hymn copy. My gamble paid off.

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Interview with E.R. Murray, author of ‘The Book of Learning’!

I just have to reblog this. I had a ball at the launch of “The Book of Learning on Tuesday”.
SJ O’Hart interviews E.R. Murray, two lovely ladies and very talented writers who work very hard and are very generous with their time and experience. This is worth a read!

SJ O'Hart

What a blogging coup I have for you today: an interview with the fabulous E.R. Murray, author of the recently published The Book of Learning (Mercier Press)! A fabulous Middle Grade fantasy about Ebony Smart, a young girl who discovers a family secret – one with the power to change her life (or lives?) completely – and a mystery which risks destroying the existence of everyone and everything she loves, The Book of Learning is a fast-paced adventure against time itself. Armed only with her own savvy, and with her pet rat Winston along for the ride, Ebony must race to find the answers she seeks before her family (including herself) is wiped from existence…

Give it up for E.R. Murray, everyone!

Image: inkwellwriters.ie Image: inkwellwriters.ie

SOH: First things first: Ebony discovers during the course of her adventure that there are people in her family with the power to reincarnate. Where did…

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Liberties: Flash Fiction from Ireland now released on iTunes!

Delighted to be published in this wonderful collection of short-listed entries to Liberties Flash Fiction Competition. Available for free on ITunes and Smashwords. Download and enjoy!

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Last month, Liberties Festival Dublin held its very first flash fiction competition. Writers were called on to submit their best 50-300 words on the theme ‘Liberties’ – either the concept of liberties or The Liberties area of Dublin, Ireland.

We were bowled over by the entries and decided the only decent thing to do would be to let the world read some of the best pieces we received. And so our collection “Liberties: Flash Fiction from Ireland” was born.

You can download it from iTunes here. Or download in many different formats from Smashwords here.

Congratulations to all our authors, we hope to see much much more of your writing!

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Another State, Another License Plate; Part 4: Country House

I was delighted to have a story of mine called The Hitchhiker published by The Ogham Stone, which launched last week. Looking forward to attending the launch tomorrow of another book in which I’ll have a story published, Insplinters Anthology 2015.

This 100 word scene is part 4 of a sequence of flash fictions inspired by photo prompts called Another State, Another License Plate.

Milton Manor, Sutton Wick. CC2.0 photo by John Turner.Milton Manor, Sutton Wick. CC2.0 photo by John Turner.

Photo prompt courtesy of Flash! Friday

Warmup Wednesday!

Directions: Write a scene or an entire story of 100 words on the nose (no more, no fewer), inspired by this photograph. 

This week’s Warmup Wednesday challenge: Borrow a song title for your story’s title.

Country House

Gravel crunches beneath our feet.

“We would have lost that foal. I owe you.”

I cringe in guilt. When will he ask where I came from, how I arrived on his property in the middle of nowhere? Seeking to steal a horse, to replace a stolen car, evidence, abandoned on the road a few miles away.

The path meanders around a lake, a duplicitous mirror in the dim light. From under the cover of trees, the house is revealed, a mansion. I lose count of the windows when I see my stolen car, dwarfed by its shadow. Does he know?

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Another State ( Part 3)

One of my sister's horses. This was just after she rescued it and it was heavily in foal at the time.

Photo courtesy of Sunday Photo Fiction https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/sunday-photo-fiction-april-26th-2015/

This is a continuation of a story I began with Sunday Photo Fiction Called “Another State Another License Plate”. This is part 3, feel free to flick back and read the other two parts.

There may be more to follow!

Another state, another license plate. Part 3

Her beautiful eyes watch my approach over the half door. Latch unbolted easily, I coax her out in whispers. I scan behind her for a saddle and harness. She tippy toes anxiously to me, delicate like a ballerina.

Nostrils flared, clouds of steam squeeze out. Don’t want her kicking up a fuss. Must earn her trust. Skittish flicking of skin, twitchy uneasiness. She paces in circles, back towards the door, then stops. Back legs stretched out. Every muscle in her body clenched. Then I notice the hooves protruding and the liquid squirting, first just a trickle then a sudden gush. Tail is wrapped and strapped to keep it out of the way.

This horse is giving birth.

Now I see the ripples beneath her skin. Internal churning, pulsing, throbbing, sinewy life. Folded hooves, caught, cramped.

She lies down on her side. Back legs stretched, tail raised, head down towards ground, shivering. Her tail swishing from side to side, she lays her head down, curls it around her front leg.

Her breathing is filled with grunts and groans and moans. She’s asking me for help.

I need to pull. On my knees within kicking distance, I try to grab but my grip is slippery. I haul. Tug and twist. She heaves. Something gives, free, released. Another contraction squeezes.

I drag the legs out more, pull the head out, maybe. Hard to tell, it’s concealed in a membrane like a white plastic bag. I feel the head. I rub mucus from the foals face. I can’t tell if it’s alive or not, feels limp. Stiff limbs slide out in a slimy flop.

We all wait, stunned. My ears ring with static vibration like an electric shock. Slumped foal struggles to move. Wobbly head unsteady.

Mother horse exhausted, looks back with curiosity at her foal’s gangly attempt to get up. It’s when I follow her line of vision that I see the boots, a pair of green farmer’s wellies.

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Another state, another license plate. Part 2.

You want more? You got more!

A sequel was requested, read it here. With more to follow!

I know how to break into cars and steal them silently away, but I know nothing about engines. When smoke, pouring from the engine, obscures my view, I feel panic. Where is he when I need him? He would know what to do. My dead father is still silent when the car rolls slowly to a halt. Not talking to me, I presume because I ignored his attempts to stop me from misappropriating the car.

I take my screwdriver from my backpack, remove the license plate and slide it in with all the others. I consider opening the hood to have a look at the still steaming engine but it’s pointless. Time to move on. I have to abandon the car, evidence of my crime, no longer of any use to me. Something I need to distance myself from.

My shadow stretches out behind me as I stride into the blank road ahead. A fuzzy cloud of midges accompany me, buzzing around my head, nipping at my ears.

The sun is beginning to dip when I spot the outline of a house or barn on the horizon. In the sky above crows are circling, spiralling as if being sucked into a whirlpool. The smell of animals grows more pungent as I get closer.

The whinny of a horse on the wind, inspires my mind to strategize, come up with a quick exit plan. As the stables come into view I have visions of my escape, galloping off into the sunset.

To be continued…

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Fly on the Wall sessions: Finishing that Book

Finishing that Book: Part 1 Panel Discussion

On Saturday the 14th of March I attended: Fly on the Wall sessions, an afternoon with Stinging Fly Fiction Workshop where writers discussed their working practices. These sessions were full of great tips and advice.

Afterwards I promised to another attendee who got so engrossed and forgot to take notes that I do a blog post about it.

Since then I’ve been busy. I attended my Creative Writing for Publicati0n course, been on a foreign holiday and was at three different launches

  • Issue 1 of Writing News in Loughboy Library, Kilkenny in which I am delighted to have two stories published.
  • By the Light of Four Moons, by John MacKenna in Carlow Library. Published by Doire Press (www.doirepress.com), which I highly recommend for a beautifully haunting read.
  • Hammered Glass, edited by Suzanne Power. Published by Kilkenny Campus Press, Maynooth University. An anthology from the “Two-Roads” group filled with humanity, humour and honest talent.

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Here’s the photo from the Kilkenny People of me and Karen selling the book at the launch.

So over a month later I have managed to order my chaotic notes taken at the Fly on the Wall panel discussion and order them into some coherence! I am sharing some the jewels of wisdom here on my blog. (Part 2 Kevin Barry: Reading and in conversation with Declan Meade to follow.)

Finishing That Book Panel Discussion with Julien Gough, Kevin Curran, Lisa McInerney and Nuala Ní Chonchúir chaired by Thomas Morris of The Stinging Fly.

1st Question: How many books did you write before being published? All of the writers have abandoned novels that were never published.

The editing process

Nuala described the experience of editing two different novels simultaneously and the weird head space she had to occupy, long days hopping between both.

Kevin was discovered at the Irish Writer’s centre Novel Fair by Liberties Press. He cut from 120,000 to 90,000 words. The integrity of the work was important. For his editing process, the things he had to look at were simple things such as five people in one family make them two. He found himself going back to basics such as plot and character.

Julien in the beginning, makes big structural drastic changes. Can do 15 drafts. Throws a lot away, shifts it around until it gets kind of coherent

The writers advised to get it as perfect as you can before it goes to publisher.

Edit with the perspective of a reader not writer.

They discussed how difficult it is to read like a reader, and truly get the reading experience. If you are too close to it, what you read and think is there, is what you want to be there. Need distance after you’ve finished. Need to be able to see the experience of the reader. That’s why you put it away for a while before you take it out to edit.

Don’t be a mother protecting all of its flaws, be social services and save the child.

Kevin described how the eye can become overfamiliar with the appearance of the text on the page said that it helps him to change the font size to 16 to allow him to see something new. Move places of words on page. Or even 10 or 14 looks different. Don’t tend to see little things. The brain delivers it’s memory, learnt it off.

Lisa finds the editing process brilliant. Her novel was 145,000 words long. At 90,000 she was nowhere near the end of the plot. Lisa had two big characters and a question asked of her during the editing process was how come they never meet

On the topic of: Feedback

Need valuable feedback, several friends would provide as Stephen King calls it a cloud of feedback. You can pay an editor who’s good at genre and will give genuine deep response. You can find a type of “Gestalt editor” from a writers’ group. If you find someone good, don’t let them go, a good reader is difficult to find.

On the topic of: Reading other books

Kevin is a teacher and couldn’t wait to finish so he could read, there are so many books to read.

Lisa can’t read when writing.

Nuala reads historical fiction when writing historical fiction and contemporary fiction when writing contemporary fiction. She finds that for her reading can give permission, help solve a problem.

On the topic of: Planning outlines

(Question from an audience member: How do you deal with knowing where you want to get people?)

Nuala is not a post-it-notes type of person. She is about 2/3rd the way through before she knows what the end is. She just writes. The story will dictate what happens. Characters will lead you there. Have to explore every possible outcome.

Profound uncertainty is a huge part of the process.

For Julien the end was different for every book. Book 1 He knew there would be a damsel saving a knight. Book 2 No idea, a wild journey. Book 3 Didn’t know how the final battle would end climactic scene. Wrote the book to find out who they were.

Kevin begins with a strong image, thinking constantly, and surprises himself by writing. He carries around an idea for a new book for about a year. It builds up in the subconscious working away, a composting process. He says there’s often a gap between the idea and your ability to write it. The time to process can take a long time.

You outline with conscious mind but write with unconscious. Sometime the outline can be wrong.

Just get back to the desk and set modest word count goals. Stick with it, sit down every day, set realistic goals and do them. You can edit. You will get there, you might change ending.

If something haunts you and niggles you owe it to it to do it. They are the ones that finish themselves. Obsessions are the most important. Publishing is an eco-system. Do the unique weird obsessional thing they haven’t read before.

On the topic of: agents:

It can take a while to find the right agent, have to be able to talk about the big stuff. An intense relationship, have to get it right.

Kevin has no agent, novel fair got him to publishers. Other published novelists who are agentless include Donal Ryan and Rob Doyle.

Having an agent is not a goal. Having the right agent for you is more important.

Writer as hero

The hero’s journey, it’s what you go through as a writer, despair is so real. That’s why so many novels get abandoned when they are almost there. Believe in your inner hero.

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