Larp Hangover

There is nothing quite so annoying as returning from your imaginary world to reality. We all experience this when we finish a good book, and look around us to realise that the whole world is carrying on as it was, and it’s only you that has changed.

I spent the entirety of last weekend at an Academy of Eblana event. Running from Friday evening in to Sunday afternoon, it was the longest Larp event that I’ve ever attended… and it was epic. I completely lost myself in a character of my creation as he moved through the world of another’s creation. I got to wield a sword (badly), and throw spells around (When my characters Goddess wasn’t trying to kill him… long story).

It was the most fun I have had in some time and I am still thinking about it. That’s the risk, I guess, with exploring fantastical worlds. It can be so hard to return to your ordinary existence.

But I am resolved not to sulk, not to whine about how mundane life is. If your life is boring it is you who makes it so. So I will look for the fantastical in real life… while planning my next trip to the world of Eblana.

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Review: Skin Game

Skin Game
Skin Game by Jim Butcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dear Gods… I mean… It’s impossible to express how truly gob smacked I am by the latest Dresden Files instalment without giving away spoilers.

This book started a bit wrong for me as it kind of jumped straight in and left me going back to the previous book to make sure I hadn’t missed something, but once I realised it was all new info the roller-coaster began… and it never stopped.

Jim Butcher is a genius at pulling me in and making me crave each new page. Throughout the Dresden Files there have been twists and turns that have knocked me over, but the ones in this novel threw me across the room.

For any Dresden fans, read this novel, it was a long wait but it was more than worth it.

For non Dresden fans, congratulations, you have 15 great books to read, and the last one’s a doozy.



View all my reviews

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Melting… I’m Melting!!!

Seriously people, what’s going on? The beautifully cold rain is just hanging up there in the sky while I’m being slowly baked down here. Although an army of ninja water does appear to be making an advance. I can’t see the ninja water, but I know it’s there because the washing won’t dry and the front door is sticking.

This is not the weather of my childhood, this is not the weather of my people. Ireland measures it’s weather in rain. We have light rain and heavy rain, stormy rain and misty rain. Mostly we have cold rain, occasionally we have warm rain, and every June when the exams are on, for those few short days, we have no rain.

I don’t recall the government announcing ninja rain, surely there should have been a referendum? I for one will not stand for it, mostly because it’s making me tired and lethargic and I want to sit down.

Beware the ninja rain people, it is in our homes, it is in our work, it is ruining hairstyles, it is in cahoots with mould.

The ninja rain is here.

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Characters (or ‘Why won’t you do what I want!?’)

*Spoiler squirrel alert for those who haven’t read The Other Whisper*

When I was just a reader (Because that’s what we all are really, readers and writers. More should be writers. Go write something, but read this first), I was always surprised by authors who said that their characters had a mind of their own and would often take over the plot. I thought

“How can a creation of your imagination do that, surely you just write what you want?”

I also thought

“Are all these hugely successful writers just taking a whole bunch of drugs? Is that what I’m missing?”

Then I met Miranda. Funny story, I didn’t create Miranda, or at least, not intentionally. My wife was reading some of the early drafts and she asked me a simple question.

“Why are there no females in your book?”

I explained that there were, Eoin’s mum was right there, but apparently that wasn’t enough. What she was asking was, where is the emotional connection. There was no one for Eoin to bond with, so unless I wanted him to be gay (Which would be totally fine and would have been an interesting way to go with it.) there really should be a girl.

So I wrote Miranda as this crazy quirky girl to have in the background for Eoin to identify with and want to help. And in my mind, Miranda woke up, looked around her, squealed “Oh Plot!” and started playing jump rope with it. She changed the course of the entire novel, became pivotal to the entire story and is most fans favourite character.

So important is she to the story, that yes, it is indeed Miranda who’s on the front cover. I’ve grown to love Miranda now, and her refusal to do things my way, because I feel it helps make the book interesting. The plot twists and turns and goes in crazy directions, there is no way to tell which way it’s going to go because, to be honest, while writing it, I had no idea which way it was going to go, but Miranda did.

Every time a tricky situation came up, I could hear her voice in my head explaining how the path was simple, even if sometimes it involved walking through things.

So yes, my characters can be out of control, and sometimes I think they steer my writing more than I do. And I wouldn’t have them any other way.

Te Other Whisper Book Cover

Miranda on book cover

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Technology, why you no work for me?

*Spoiler squirrel alert for my wife and other people who have declared they don’t want to hear a single word about The Other Foe until they can read it. I also mention characters from The Other Whisper in case you haven’t read it. (If you haven’t read The Other Whisper, why not click here and buy it now? Go on, you know you want to.)*

I was right in the middle of what may turn out to be one of the pivotal scenes of The Other Foe. It features Miranda, who is a fan favourite, in a way we have never seen her before.

*dramatic pause*

I was getting really in to the scene, in the way that I can, with descriptions flowing easily and everything unfolding in my mind when the screen dimmed and the netbook started to shut down.

I panicked, trying to remember the last time I’d clicked save. As any author will tell you, it doesn’t matter if you know exactly what happened in a scene, if you lose it and have to rewrite, it will never be the same. For me this counts double with characters like Miranda who will often react in ways I had no way of anticipating. (Yes my characters have minds of their own, no I don’t talk to them… out loud.)

After 5 minutes of waiting to the netbook and my heart to restart, I opened up word and found a recovery file waiting for me with all my work intact. And the culprit of the potentially catastrophic interruption? Windows update, apparently I was so engrossed in my writing that I didn’t notice the message telling me it was sick of waiting for me to restart it and was going to do it itself.

The lesson here kids, is save often, keep backups, and don’t trust technology because it will give you a heart attack.

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Motivation (Or “Writing is Haaaaaaard!”)

Writing is hard, anyone who says differently is selling something, probably themselves. One of the hardest parts of writing (for me) is getting up everyday and moving forward with a project. Even when it’s sunny outside, even when Season 2 of Orange is The New Black is out (the first episode was confusing but we’re 3 episodes in and it’s awesome!). Personally I rely on those close to me to encourage and advise me so I get the words on the page and move closer to that end goal.

But I can always use another kick in the pants. To that end I am going to start sharing with you (yes you internet, how are you today?) my current word count for The Other Foe, the sequel to The Other Whisper. Watch out for daily updates, and I fully encourage you, internet, to comment or message me if the words aren’t happening.

Please don’t message me every hour going “Are you done yet? Huh? Are you done? What happens to Eoin? Is my favourite character still in it?”. That is not helping, it’s halping. But if you want to send encouragement, or ask for teasers, that’s always welcome.

It’s going to be a tough road internet, but together, we can do the thing.

Tiny Potato believes in you

Do the Thing!

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Meteotropism

I like my big words, you just have to read The Other Whisper to know that, so today we’ll talk about meteotropism. Isn’t that a lovely word? Say it out loud with me… Meteotropism. One of the things I love about the word meteotropism, is that it isn’t in the dictionary (Or at least, not in any of the ones I’ve looked in, do let me know if you find it in one), but I can find evidence of its use, this makes me feel like a pioneer, breaking new ground at the changing edge of the English language (Stop looking at me funny, I find my excitement where I can).

Meteotropism is when changes in an organism correlate with changes in the atmosphere around it. This could be due to pollutants or weather changes. I like to think that we as humans (We are all human here, right? Robots, I order you not to lie), are particularly sensitive to changes around us. Who hasn’t become down on a rainy day, perked up on a sunny one? But the really cool thing is that we do not have to be slaves to meteotropism (Say it again…. meteotropism).

Evolution is when organisms naturally change to suit a changing environment, through a process of genetic mutation and natural selection (Either that or it’s an elaborate hoax conducted by nearly every biological scientist alive, fabricating a crap load of empirical evidence all to… do something… I don’t know, the bible doesn’t say why we’re being wrong it just says we are). But we as humans have evolved to the point where we are changing our environment to suit our changing needs. Some people argue that this means we’ve stopped evolving genetically, but that’s an argument for another day, my point is that you have the power to change your environment, and have meteotropism work for you.

So the next time you are down, or tired, or have any feeling you don’t enjoy, look around you. Have a look at you environment, is their something about it that’s making you feel this way? If not, that’s cool, I mean people have serious problems sometimes, you can’t blame all of life’s downs on the Irish weather (Though apparently, we’re only 83rd in the world for average precipitation… doesn’t feel like it sometimes).

But if there is something in your environment that’s getting you down, change it. Clean that room, mow that lawn, change that wallpaper, shoot that annoying teenager out of a cannon… wait, maybe not that last one. Our species didn’t spend 3 million years evolving the ability to change the world around us just for us to sit back and accept it.

In summary, don’t let meteotropism make you its bitch.

That is all.

 

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Darkness

It might seem strange to talk about darkness as we approach the brightest day of the year. But I do not speak of the darkness outside, I speak of the darkness we all carry within us. I use my darkness, I shape it and give it name, I throw it against the page and I hope it sticks. And, in my opinion, my writing has been the better for it. I have had people tell me that when they read The Other Whisper it feels so real, that they feel like they are right there and can experience what Eoin is going through. I would like to think that is the darkness, reaching from the page to pull you in just a little.

We all have darkness within us, there are few so blessed that life has not scarred and hurt them and left them changed. But I use my darkness and I give it shape, until that which was terrible, becomes nothing more than inspiration.

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Mailing List

So I’ve set up one of them there mailing list things. I have been assured that it’s how all the up and coming authors get their news out there. I’ve always thought that mailing lists were very impersonal, but then I saw how my friend Lora O’Brien does it and I realised it doesn’t have to be.

So you can now sign up for email updates on my website, or by clicking here. I will be using the mailing list to let people know about upcoming RPG and Larps that I will be running as well as news about The Other Foe, the sequel to the The Other Whisper.

I also want to give my mailing list subscribers something extra, so I will be sending out sneak peeks of upcoming material as well as an exclusive short story featuring many people’s favourite character, Miranda (To be completed before year end).

If you like what I do and you want to know more, I would highly recommend signing up. As a thank you, everyone who signs up receives a free copy of Dungeon Dimensions and Dragons, the first ever RPG scenario I wrote. This scenario, which won the 2009 Gaelcon Writers Award, was my first foray into sharing my writing with the world, and it makes me extremely happy to be able to share it with you all.

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The quiet of the early morning

There’s something about waking up before the alarm bell (and turning it off so it doesn’t ring). It feels like stolen time, like magic time. It’s as if, in the dawning light of day, you could do anything. For this is time you didn’t think you’d have. There is no pressure, there is no expectation. You are free to simply be.

Perhaps we should all spend more of our lives, living as if our time were stolen.

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