Southern Area Hospice Services provide INVALUABLE specialist palliative care and support to patients with life limiting illnesses including Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease, HIV and Aids. Their services are available to patients who live within the Southern Health Board region in Northern Ireland.
Due to COVID19 they’ve had to postpone ALL of their planned fundraising events and with all their services are provided free of charge and relying on 73p in every pound coming from fundraising this is a massive impact.
Currently they are even very short on protective equipment such as masks, gloves, and gowns, to keep their staff short and as they buy more this will obviously come out of their already stretched budget.
I realise that everyone will have their own issues to deal with right now, and money may be one of them, but if you can spare something, anything, then PLEASE consider donating to this very excellent cause!
OK, because Prime Minister Boris Johnston didnt use theword ‘lockdown’ I’m not sure that everyone will get the message, especially not the ones who were still congregating at beaches or parks in their masses, but people NEED to listen: the UK is basically on lockdown and we all need to do what we can to slow the spread of Coronavirus to help stop the strain on the NHS and, ultimately, save lives.
This means, where humanly possible, only leaving your house as little as you can fir very limited purposes:
– shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible;
– one form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household;
– any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person;
– travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.
No social gatherings. No family gatherings. No trips to the mountains en masse. No open air markets.
Full details about the things that are being stopped, and consequences, are in the link.
With huge thanks once again to Flash Fiction Armagh, Byddi Lee, and Réamonn Ó Ciaráin for allowing me to read my work at their wonderful event, held at the Armagh County Museum, and for looking after me when I wasn’t sure that I would make it to (or through) due to illness.
Such a great night with amazing talent in the room and i’m humbled to share the space with so many awesome writers!
Excuse the voice, pneumonia & pleurisy plays havoc with the breathing.
Enjoy my story, ‘Hero Worship’ …oh and if you’re expecting a happy ever after type thing you came to the wrong writer 😉
Even though the US is getting Disney+ later this month – November 12th to be exact – we finally know when the UK (and others, but they’re not as important because I don’t live there 😉 ) are getting the latest and -possibly- best streaming service: March 31st 2020!
This means that we’ll have access to a whole wealth of classic movies, TV shows and animations owned by Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Fox, and so much more.
For me that importantly is the Marvel umbrella of movies and, of course, the upcoming TV shows: Ms. Marvel, She Hulk, Moon Knight (OMG!!!), WandaVision, Loki, What If…?, and of course my two personal favourites…
…and that’s just for starters! Who knows what Disney+ will bring year on year? 🙂
The Crow is a superhero comic book series created by James O’Barr.
It is not just one of my absolute favourite graphic novels, telling the story of love and supernatural revenge, but also my all-time favourite movies.
The movie adaptation – which may just be THE best comic book adaptation ever – featured Brandon Lee in the lead role of Eric Draven and he absolutely OWNED it in what was, unfortunately, his final film appearance.
There were some truly awful movie sequels but also a really rather good TV series, The Crow: Stairway to Heave, starring Mark Dacascos (another amazing martial artist and all-round great guy!) as Eric Draven this time.
And finally I managed to get a Funko Pop version of The Crow character to add to my collection which will definitely take pride of place 🙂
“Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever.”
Well as the title says my dad turned 80 at the weekend. He’s had his challenges, medically, over the last few years – from cancer, to COPD, and heart failure – but he’s faced them all and is still here fighting so it was wonderful to be able to gather family around and celebrate a man who has done SO much (a career that has seen him in the police, in the Royal Air Force, in the military police, been awarded medals …but, you know, most importantly, just been filled with so much love <3 ) and see him enjoy himself with everyone.
Shallow Waters is the official monthly flash fiction
challenge hosted by the award-winning Crystal Lake Publishing. Every month a
new challenge is posted online, with authors submitting via email. The best
submissions are then posted on Crystal Lake’s Patreon page, where patrons read
daily entries and vote for the winner. What you’ll find in these Shallow Waters
anthologies include the most popular of our finalists.
Proudly brought to you by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.
tl;dr – I attended WorldCon and voted in the Hugos; that is
frikkin’ awesome!!! 🙂 I met people I haven’t seen in real-life in years, I met
people I’ve only ever spoken to on-line, I met people I’ve never met before,
and I met ‘famous’ people I’ve been fans of for years. Basically, I had a FABULOUS
Now the longer version.
As I said up there, I actually managed to attend WorldCon, or
more formally the World Science Fiction Convention, is a gathering of fans of
science fiction, fantasy, horror, gaming, cosplay, etc who come together to
celebrate that in all forms but especially in literature. They are MY people;
I never thought that I would manage to get to a WorldCon,
due to logistics of distance (as they are normally thousands of miles away) and
health (as planning anything in advance around me not getting ill, or
travelling and not getting exhausted, is onerous and normally doesn’t happen anyway)
but when WorldCon was announced for Dublin I knew it was my chance …so I leapt
at it; and promptly got ill a few days before the actual Con started but,
throwing caution (and copious amounts of medication) to the wind, I travelled
down to the Dublin Convention Centre …leaving my wife and kids mid-vacation up
North… and entered a venue with thousands of other people who were like me; no,
not falling apart and ill! Geeks. Nerds. Fans!
During the four days that I was there I managed to attend a
play called ‘ConEIRE’ written by KATE LATIEY and performed by the Fox Spirit
Skulk, which was enormously funny. Many panels on such diverse subjects as ‘Irelands
Legends and Lore’; ‘Northern Irish SFF’; Fairies and Irish folklore in YA’; ‘Imagining
Disabled Futures’ (about disability and accessibility in speculative fiction); ‘Irish
Horror and the Supernatural’; ‘2000AD and the Supernatural’; and more that I am
probably forgetting. I got to attend readings by ADRAIN TCHAIKOSVKY, PEADAR O’GUILIN,
and the fabulous PETER BEAGLE who was very generous with his time, talking to
me about his work, writing habits, and life in general. I bumped into, and
briefly chatted, with both JOE HILL (I did ask him about an outstanding interview
with his dad, Stephen King 😉 ), DIANE DUANE, and GEORGE RR MARTIN, he of the
Games of Thrones. I spent a lot of time in the open area where the stalls, ‘shops’,
and information desks were talking to publishers, book-sellers, jewellers, cosplayers,
and the guys from the BIG BANG comic shop, as well as the ever lovely DECLAN
SHALVEY (still Mackenzie’s favourite artist) and KEIRON GILLON. I bumped into
GARETH POWELL, finally, after being ships in the night all convention. I got to
watch a wonderful cosplay competition called The Masquerade, one evening, which
REALLY highlighted just how talented these people are because most of the costumes/make-up
on display wouldn’t have seemed out of place on stage or screen!
And then the Hugos. I voted on work that I thought was most
worthy of winning a Hugo for the first time in my life and I felt the pressure
of doing so; this wasn’t something that I took lightly. I have to be honest and
say that I didn’t sit in the auditorium for the Hugos, even though I was
intending to …I went and had dinner with friends instead, who realised that I was
very tired and sitting alone for 3-4 hours wouldn’t have been the best thing;
they were right. We watched the
ceremony, and results, via social media instead (as I would’ve done at home 🙂
) and some of the people I wanted to win, did, and some didn’t; that’s the
Hugos. I’m still humbled to have been
part of it. I want to take this moment to say 1/ how great it was to meet
ALASDAIR STEWART, finally, in real life and 2/ that his work is amazing and he’s
a winner in my eyes!
For me though the biggest and best thing about WorldCon was
the people! Meeting people and catching up with them after years. Meeting people in real life for the first
time after years of only communicating via social media. Meeting people for the
first time ever and connecting immediately. The people made WorldCon for me
and, even a week later, I am missing their presence.
So, let’s talk about those people:
First the people that I knew in real life but hadn’t seen in
ages. That was PAT MAHER and ALLEN
STROUD, who I used to run around in muddy fields with and hit people with latex
…that isn’t as rude as it sounds, but maybe, for some, it is weird, because I
am talking about live-roleplaying.; I did say I wore my geek/nerd credentials proudly, didn’t I? Seeing both of
these guys was really nice because, obviously, nostalgia, but both are just genuinely
lovely people too; through ALLEN I also got to meet KAREN, and we spent a lot
of time discussing things very relevant to my life and my children which I am
extremely grateful for …plus, thanks to Karen, somehow, I now find myself a
member of The British Science Fiction Association 😀
Secondly, the Otherworld NI crew. This is a grouping of lovely
local people involved and invested in the SFF community and scene. JO ZEBEDEE
is at the forefront of this and while we see each other occasionally this time
we got to spend some quality time together, as well as sit in on her panels, which
was great. SAM POOTS is a dynamo who was always everywhere but, thankfully, we
got to sit and chat too. PATRICK was
running an awesome D&D game, which seemed to be running non-stop, and the
feedback I heard about it was phenomenal (I’ve even told him he needs to run it
again for us local folks 😉 ). Then there was the ever-awesome KERRY BUCHANAN
who it doesn’t matter how many times I see her she’ll always bring a smile to
my face (and a hug, of course); her panel on disability in the future was
Next – and apologies if I miss anyone (please remind me if you see this and I’ve been a ditz!) – ALL the people I finally met who I only usually spoke to online: PAUL M. FEENEY is someone that I’ve been speaking to for years now, and I’m so glad that we finally got to meet and hang out; he is an awesome writer, and awesome guy, and I hope he realises how great he is! TRACEY FAHEY is part of the Fox Spirit Skulk, a great writer, an immense intelligence and fountain of knowledge, and just such great company and fun to hang out with; even though we’d never met before this weekend it was honestly like hanging out with an old friend. Speaking of the Fox Spirit Skulk I have to say that I finally got to pledge allegiance to the benevolent dictator herself, ADELE WEARING owner/publisher of one of the best presses around, after many years of only social media communication and signing contracts for her …everyone in the Skulk, MR. FOX 😉 (TOM), MARGERT, KATE LAITY, GUSTAV, and CHLOE AND PAUL YATES were just warm, welcoming, and so much fun! PENNY AND SIMON JONES were people I hadn’t spoken to much in the past (or at all 🙂 ) but meeting them was like talking to old-friends, and the hours spent in their company was fabulous. I also finally got to meet LYNDA RUCKER in real life; she’s so cool and as much a hugger as me! 😊
…and then there was DION. I’ve been speaking to Dion,
online, on and off for more than a few years but wasn’t prepared for the force
of nature that I met; I think that I probably spent more time in his company
than anyone else’s during the four days, and it was worth it. He is a very funny guy, but also extremely
warm and caring at the same time, and it was like spending time with the best
friend that you only see every year or so, not someone you’ve just met.
Through the ever-awesome MICHAEL CARROLL (read 2000AD and
Judge Dredd folks!) I met MICHAEL SCOTT and COURTNEY DILLON and, as you do at a
convention about sci-fi and books, we talked about Buffs (bandana type scarfs),
tattoos, and martial arts; I think that I found my other tribe there 😉
I only got to see her a handful of times (her panels were
amazing; Irish horror and supernatural was extremely informative , and the
2000AD panel, with Michael and WILL SIMPSON was the BEST panel I attended 🙂 )
but MAURA MCHUGH was as lovely as ever and has to be commended for the work she
did in putting this WorldCon together; thanks Maura, personally at least, as I
had a blast!!!
Ultimately it was a great experience – though one which
physically wrecked me! 🙂 – and took me a few days to come down for the ‘bubble’
I’d been in and recover from the ‘blues’ of not being there afterwards. Everyone involved in putting it together
should take a bow because I’m sure it was like a swan for you guys – a great experience
for us and madness underneath keeping it running. Thank you for doing it!
Coming out of it I’ve been asked to write for an anthology,
been told to write/pitch a novella for a shared world thing and am pitching an
anthology I’ll edit to a publisher which hopefully will happen. Also, more
locally, I’m hoping to write stuff for a couple of magazines too (I’ve been
asked so would be rude not to).
To sum up: thoroughly enjoyed myself, a little broken by it,
people made this event what it was, and WorldCon – you rocked! 🙂
Flash fiction is something that I have become very fond of; part
prose, part poetry, and all wonderful narrative, telling a story in as few words
as possible can be as rewarding as it is complex. Distilling a novel’s worth of
experience into a few pages, or even a few paragraphs, means that you must pay
attention to not just every sentence that you write, but every word that you
choose. If done properly it should reward the reader too – hopefully – with a
concise and concentrated dose of literature where, in a lot of cases, mood and
tone maters more than plot because you are starting near the end of the story
And that is what makes it so addictive, as both a writer and
reader, to keep on doing.
I’ve been very lucky to have had my shorter work – six-word
stories, drabbles (100 word), micro fiction (less than 250 words), and flash
fiction – published but, more so over the last year I’ve had the absolute pleasure
of being invited to read at Flash Fiction Armagh events in various venues in
Northern Ireland. On the 19th September 2019 I’m going to do it
This time I’m going to be reading a dark fantasy/speculative
fiction piece (with a splash of humour thrown in for good measure), called ‘Playing
Both Sides’ which I wrote during Pride month and plays on my love of geekdom
and the underdog.
Flash Fiction Armagh this time takes place as part of the
award-winning Armagh Food and Cider Festival; the readings take place in a
teepee in the grounds of Crannagael House, which should be amazing! It promises
to be a lot of fun, with cider tasting, locally sourced food, music, and of
course all of the fabulous stories from the amazing writers (and me 🙂 ):
Gaynor Kane At Castleward
Maria Mc Gilly Green and Bitter
Csilla Toldy Wallflower
Jay Faulkner Playing Both Sides
Rachel Toner On The Shelf
Kerry Buchannan The Ages of Nan
Tim Hanna The Birds
Rosemary Tumilty The Homecoming
Ellie Rose Mc Kee The Caller
Brid McGinley Dogs in Space
Gerry Mc Cullough Not Quite Dead
Lorna Flanagan Boots Trudged Across the Yard
Yvonne Boyle The Silver Casino PlayerGary Hunter Rain and Smoke
With thanks, as always, to Byddi Lee and Réamonn Ó Ciaráin,
the organisers of Flash Fiction Armagh, for this opportunity!