Zombie Airwaves… Dead Air?

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to share this with you – it’s a podcast recording of an interview with the lovely Jo-Ann Carson, where she finds me in unusually talkative form! I go through a potted history of my writing journey so far, what inspired me to start writing, and my top tips (such as they are) for any aspiring and emerging writers … I also give a performance of some of my poems, including ZombieLife…

I’d love it if you checked it out, shared on social media, told your granny about it… all that good stuff! 🙂

https://www.bloodsweatandwords.com/bsw-024-zombie-poetry-thrillers-al-lane-mark-oneill-20190205/

Copies of Haiku of the Dead are available through amazon on the links below. A perfect Valentines gift for the man in your life… just saying!

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07K1Q8MKY

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07K1Q8MKY

 

haiku of the dead cover pic

I’ve Done A Book!

I know I’ve been quiet on here for some time now… well, for the last couple of months I’ve been pulling together my first collection of poetry, flash fiction and short stories – THE LANE LESS TRAVELLED !

This collection is unlike anything else you will have seen… A warm and witty mix of poetry and flash/short fiction, that will make you think, make you laugh, make you cry… And most of all, make you wonder, “what exactly is wrong with this guy???

Take a walk along the lane less travelled, where you will encounter alien snails, mankini trick or treaters, sexy pets, naked ghosts, and everyday love and heartbreak… along with essential advice for modern dads! Contains adult (childish) humour.

I’d be absolutely stoked if you’d buy a copy… it is £7.50 to UK, £11 to US/Canada (I’ll post anywhere in the world)… Just drop me a PM with your email address 😊 or if you prefer the impersonal approach, it’s on eBay here.

I am planning a whole series of collections now, some through traditional self-publishing (as this one was, produced by a local printer) and others through e-publishing. So get in early before so you can say you bought my stuff before the inevitable Elvis in Vegas days arrive! (Better be quick – I’ve already got the waistline for it 🙂 )

IMG_20180816_141026

9 tips for new bloggers… from an old Cockney gangster…

Wizened old cockney man-crone: (huskily) ‘ere, son, come over ‘ere a minute…

Fresh-faced cherub: What is it grandad?

WOCMC: Grandad? Grandad? I’m only 27.
(a cough from the back of the room)
Fack off.

FFC: No offence meant… senior person-type thing… you look a bit like Brick Top from Snatch – did you know that?… so, what do you want? I was just about to publish my first blog post…

WOCMC: Yeah, it’s about that. ‘ardest game in the world, blogging.

FFC: Really?

WOCMC: No, not really. Unfortunately it’s a piece of piss. Getting started, anyhow. ‘ave you seen some of the royal shit on ‘ere?

FFC: No, I haven’t had the pleasure. Should I have?

WOCMC: (whispering) Don’t be too obvious now. (Louder) Oh, I could tell you some things about blogging, alright… stories that’d make your hair burn…

FFC: It’s okay, I think I’ve got a handle on it. I did find this post from Hugh very useful.

WOCMC: Oh, you did, did you? Yeah, I’ve ‘eard of him. He’s disappeared a few people over there in Wales in his time. Never ‘ad the pleasure meself. Anyway, the problem with that Hugh is he’s nice. Actually likes trying be all helpful, if you can imagine.

FFC: And that’s a problem because?…

WOCMC: (extra husky) I ain’t nice.

FFC: I beg your pardon?

WOCMC: I said I ain’t nice. You got treacle in your ears, sunshine? If you want me to read the shit you put on your blog, you’re gonna have to fackin’ work for it.

FFC: (pleading) But I’ve been reading some articles about how to make a million from my blog in the first week!

WOCMC: (laughs, pisses him/herself) Never mind that shit, you prize twerp! Here are my top 9 tips to get actual people to follow you

FFC: Shouldn’t it be a Top 10?

WOCMC: (shakes head) ‘ow little you know…

 

9 rules for ‘appy blogging

1. Don’t be BORING. You may not be a comedian, sunshine, but there ain’t no excuse for not being interesting.

2. Don’t APOLOGISE. Just say what you gotta say, treacle.

3. Pick a theme that don’t make me VOMIT

4. A FOLLOW for a Follow? You ‘avin’ a laugh?

5. Don’t BEG for me to come and look at yer blog. ‘ave a bit of respect for ye’self.

6. EXPERIMENT…slowly

7. Don’t EXPECT. Build your crew up slow, like.

8. Not TOO MUCH/ OFTEN. Ain’t got no time for blabbermouths…

9. Not too BROAD. This ain’t the London Palladium, and you ain’t Bruce Forsyth, god rest his soul.

LEBARAN SALE

Grabbing 2018 by the B&lls!

Let’s be honest, 2017 as a year was… a bit shit. Too much hate-filled terrorism, too much idiocy-filled Brexit, too much asshole-filled Trump… even the celebrity deaths looked a bit shit compared with the previous year (RIP David Bowie and Alan Rickman). Not to mention that The Last Jedi was also…a bit shit. (Sad, but true. Feel free to fail to convince me otherwise below…)

But this isn’t the “a bit shit” blog. (Quiet at the back.)

I’ve had a poem saved in drafts for over two years now. It’s about feeling low in the new year (“the calendar moves on/ I remain still”)… it’s not going to get published here this year either. It’s just not what I want to share. Life is “a bit shit” enough without me releasing my faintly whiffy poetry into the air. It would be as welcome as a fart at a funeral. (As I’m fairly sure Geoff Le Pard would/has put it!)

I’m also not one of those annoyingly cheerful positive types. I know some of my American readers lap that stuff up, but us Brits don’t really go in for that either.

Modesty.
Awkwardness.
Self-deprecation.

Those are our “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” equivalents.

I digress.

So… a middle way. A smidge of positivity, without the odour of negativity. A sustainable, splash-free course through the swirling turd-hills of terror, Brexit, Trump, #this-year’s-evil…

In terms of my poetry, things are starting to move along… I have joined a supportive poetry collective, DIY Poets… I will continue to attend open mics (am back to The Cave next week)… I have a brief slot supporting the brilliantly funny poet John Hegley in March… I got my first publishing credits last year (in a charity collection – Diverse Verse – and then in a wonderful local Christmas ‘zine through Mud Press)… I have collated poetry for at least three different collections I intend to self-publish (pending me arranging some cover art)… I hope to soon be sharing a few videos of my poems on youtube…

In terms of my other writing, I am currently developing an idea I have for a sitcom, and am trying to get to grips with screenwriting… I may even go back to a novel I started in 2016… plus some unfinished business with drafts of a handful of children’s picture books…

A few different options!

So… back to grabbing 2018 by the balls (or throat, if you prefer a more violent but less sexual image)…

I have volunteered to help organise the Nottingham Poetry Festival in April. I will be the official blogger in the build-up to and during the festival. What this means in reality, I can’t yet tell you (not because it’s secret, but because I don’t yet know either!), but when the call went out for people to help a month ago, I took an afternoon off work, got the tram into Nottingham, sucked in my gut, and said to a room-full of strangers “err…anything I can do?”

I am very excited about this one!

I hate “takeaways” (unless being used in the British sense of food delivered to your door, obviously), but if there is a takeaway from this, it’s just this:

When whatever-your-thing-in-2018 sends a call out for people to help (and it will)
– Get on the bus/ tram/ boat/ unicycle
– Suck in your gut
– Say “err… is there anything I can do to help?…”

To your success!

 

girl-2940655_1920

NaNo – Hell Yeah!

I mentioned on here last week that I’d committed to the NaNoWriMo challenge. For those who don’t know, this is the National Novel Writing Month, where a bunch of writers needing less caffeine in their lives commit to writing 50,000 words of their novel during the month of November.

8034742227_bf053e02c3_z

 

My novel stalled at an early stage. I have written (what I think is) a great prologue, and I have (again, what I think is) an original and funny idea, but actually getting my butt in the chair and getting a draft down… a different matter. So, with reckless disregard for my previous lack of writing of any decent word count, I signed up to knuckle down, shape up, get grafting, and all those other metaphors that should grace a reasonable montage sequence at the end of all this.

My aims are twofold.

First, to develop a style of writing where I can turn off the inner editor. I have no ambitions to actually attain the word count target, but if I can stop editing as I go, allow myself the freedom to write in a more stream-of-consciousness style, and GET SOME WORDS DOWN FIRST! then this will be a huge step forward for me. At present, I am such a perfectionist that only poetry and short forms of fiction are reasonable goals. (Quiet at the back – if you think my writing’s bad now, just imagine how much worse it would be without that commitment!) I need to change my style to allow for this expansion into the longer form. Having just re-read this section a half-dozen times, the scale of this challenge is not to be under-estimated…

Second, to instill more discipline about when I write. I have agreed with my wife a timetable for when I’ll be writing. This will include a few hours BIC time every day (with extra time no doubt for planning and plotting… not that I’m much of a plotter), with an extra top-up session at the weekend. On top of a full time job and family commitments, this is not inconsiderable, and I need to get maximum return from that BIC time. This means, adios internet. Bye bye blogging. Piss off poetry… you get the idea. Focus. I’ll be a lean, mean writing machine. I’m just going to have to miss out on catching up on anyone else’s blog for a month, park my own, and hope that the latest cat videos and memes aren’t as cute as they used to be…

So, that’s me. Will it work? Who knows… but I have to try 🙂

See you in December!

 

2840842884_b9370fd77f_z

Al! Al! Where are you going? I’ve just uploaded another video onto my youtube stream…

Checking in

Hi everyone!

I’ve not been around on WordPress much lately. My new job is going well, but doesn’t leave much room for blogging. In the evenings, I’ve been working on what I hope will become my first novel, and have been learning a whole new bunch of skills relating to plotting, planning (this is anathema to me!), character arcs, and all that jazz.

It’s a comedy, naturally, in my own particular style, although I should probably clarify that there are no zombies in this one. Well, not yet anyway. Who can tell where the muse/second draft will take you?

It’s at the fairly early stages, and I haven’t really worked out the plot yet (it’s character-driven)… but that’s what I’m spending my evenings on 🙂

I’ll keep posting the occasional thing on here, just to keep my hand in. A bit of nonsense, some haiku, some limericks, some more serious stuff… the usual range of rubbish from me!

Weirdly, yesterday was my best day ever for follows of my blog… and I haven’t posted anything for ages. Wonder what that tells me…

I had thought about writing some “milestone” posts on having reached a certain number of followers, and reaching my second anniversary on WP (on Sep 14th), but I’m not sure those things mean anything to anyone except me.

Besides, it’s not where you’ve been, but where you’re going, right?

Hope you’re all enjoying your onward journeys. Wherever those winds are taking you x

 

5397827212_712a592d6f_z

 

Picture credit: flickr.com/photos/marcovdz/5397827212

Taking a break…

I had the pleasure of attending my brother’s wedding at the weekend, and managed to go completely offline for (most of) two days. I returned to a mind-blowing 400 emails, mostly blog notifications. Even if I read and dealt with each one in a minute, that amounts to 10% of ALL my time over the weekend, waking and sleeping!

I need to scale back a bit.

Actually, a lot.

There is so much that I want to do with my writing, but trying to keep up with the endless treadmill on WordPress is exhausting. There are so many talented poets, writers and bloggers that I follow… so much is inspiring, or beautiful, or heart-felt, or just plain old-fashioned funny… but it’s a distraction from my own writing, and what I need to do.

I am off to the Isle of Wight Festival this weekend, and will be completely offline from Thursday to Monday, most likely caked in mud, and merrily light-headed/unconscious (it’s a binary thing – either one or the other) from my stash of Jack Daniels, my festival buddy.

This weekend is a good catalyst for me to take a bit more of a break and re-charge the batteries.

So … drum roll… I’m going to take a full fortnight off from anything WordPress-y. This will be a HUGE challenge for me, but it needs to be done! (Can you help me out by being a bit less interesting and awesome for this fortnight? Please? 🙂 )

While I’m away, I’m going to write my Blogifesto – my promises to you – and I’ll share that with you in a couple of weeks. I’ve got a couple of other things up my sleeve that I hope you’re gonna love too…

Have a great fortnight, whatever you’re going to be doing. I hope you’ll still be here when I come back! 🙂

 

15006192406_923b063c1f_z

Getting away from it all…

Picture credit: flickr.com/photos/fumigraphik/15006192406

Writer Q&A

The lovely Marje has tagged me to join in a writer Q&A – https://kyrosmagica.wordpress.com/2016/05/13/the-writer-q-a-tag/ . Thought I’d give it a go!

1. If you met a sexy vampire what would you do? Hook up, get the garlic and crosses out or run a mile?
Reader, I married her.

2. What’s your favourite genre of book and why?
I read a lot of non-fiction at the moment… rather boringly, most are “how to be an awesome writer” type of books, matching my personal writing ambitions… Stephen King’s “On Writing” is a recent favourite.

Other than that, I read lots of poetry books, in different styles. I just finished Carol Ann Duffy’s Love Poems, and Tim Key’s “Incomplete Tim Key” (the “Incomplete” moniker seems to refer to the fact that it’s not funny, despite intentions… and I had been looking forward to it immensely…) I’ve just picked up Ginsberg’s Howl collection too, and keep dipping into anything by Billy Collins or Shel Silverstein for inspiration. I like studying a range of poetry, even the stuff that doesn’t connect with me, to improve my own limited skillset.

I dip into fiction, but it tends to be author-led, rather than genre. I buy almost everything with Neil Gaiman’s name on it, for example.

3. Who is/are your favourite author (s) , poet (s)? What is it about them that inspires you?
Neil Gaiman is a huge inspiration. He gives great interviews too that are always worth checking out. His slogan of “Make Great Art” is one that I’ve taken to heart.

Billy Collins is an inspiration in a more practical sense. Almost every poem of his that I read has a phrase or an idea in it that sparks something in me, and I have to go away and scribble my own poem to capture it. He has a remarkable way of using humour in his poetry, which obviously fits with my own personal style too.

4. If you had to control a classroom of year 6 kids would you bale, or enjoy the challenge? Would you be (a.) too undisciplined to do so, you’d just join in the general mayhem, (b.) enjoy bossing them around, or (c.) pray in a corner for the bell to sound.
I taught for a year after leaving university, from Year 1 up to Year 12’s… I got on fine with the older ones (they were quite close to my age at the time), but I did find the younger ones more of a challenge. I remember one 6 year old boy who seemed to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of dinosaurs, and being amazed by that… and now, in time, my eldest has become that child!

To answer the question, I did try (b), and probably would again, but didn’t always find the right level. I remember one of the games teachers having “a quiet word” with me about inappropriate language that I’d used. (I told one of the boys on the rugby pitch to “stop twatting about!”… not my finest moment)

5. What made you become a writer/blogger? Do your family support you or do they think you’re crazy, bored, attention seeking, or all of these? Tell us a bit about your current WIP and/or books…
I started writing children’s stories after our eldest was born, and started blogging children’s poems on the back of that. It’s all ballooned from there. Now, I am polishing a book of zombie survival haiku for self-publishing, and planning a host of other releases, poems and stories. My wife is amazingly supportive… she’s even taken the kids out today so I can spend time writing!

6. What is the most awful job and/or experience you’ve ever done/had?
I’ve just had to leave my job, but don’t want to share the details of that. Between the ages of 17 and 21, I worked in a bingo hall. (Yes, I was a bingo caller.) The job wasn’t too bad most of the time, but that was before the days of the smoking ban, and every session in that room would leave you coated in other people’s smoke. Yuck. Plus, there would be occasional live entertainment on a Saturday night… some of the locals would overdo it on the cheap booze at the bar. I may not be able to throw a punch worth a damn, but I know I can take one. Happy days!

7. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Does this spill out onto other parts of your life? Are you generally organised/disorganised?
I’m a total pantser. I just made a to-do list to try and catch up on everything that needs doing, and instead of working through it in any sensible order I’ve started this post instead, which logically would be the very last thing on the list! My wife is the total opposite (she’d probably say that she needs to be). I think we smooth the edges off each other 🙂

8. Do you believe in Ghosts? Fate? Love at First Sight? Fairies? Psychic happenings? Numerology, Mermaids, The Loch Ness Monster, Demons…etc…Make your own observations …. and let me know..
Nope. Not a one of them. But I do believe in love. Is that not mystical power enough?

9. What is the worst haircut/clothes/hats you’ve ever had/worn? Photos please, or describe in vivid detail…
I lost most of the hair on top of my head in my early twenties, but as it was thinning at uni I did make the mistake of trying to dye it red, even though it was really short (like Renton in Trainspotting)… it just looked like I’d dipped my scalp in some ink! Mercifully it washed off pretty quickly.

10. Please finish this sentence with more than three extra words: Life is one foot in and one foot out, you ….
In haiku, naturally:

Life is one foot in
And one foot out, you never
Know which one is which

 

4549909730_542d6bc1d3_z

Ten Things That Writers Can Learn From “Finding Nemo”

At the weekend, I was watching Finding Nemo (again) with my boys. They love it. I love it. It’s in my top five favourite films of all time, which is really saying something bearing in mind I’ve seen it more often than the rest of the top four put together (and probably the rest of any top ten, if I ever went that far with a list).

(Yes, I know the (frankly disappointing) trailer for Finding Dory is out now. I care not for being topical!)

While watching Nemo, my thoughts drifted again to my own writing journey. This is dominating my thoughts at the moment… maybe yours too. And I realised that there are a bunch of things for writers to take away from the film, even leaving aside the obvious “write something even half as good and you’ll probably go a long way” point. I’m sure these lessons apply for many other paths through life too, but I’m working on Chuck Wendig’s principle that the internet is 55% porn/ 45% writers, and writing for the minority.

So, in time-honoured tradition, here are my top ten Finding Nemo takeaways for writers:

  • 1) The start of the journey will not be auspicious
    There may be a thousand writer-eggs born that start the journey, with protestations of “I’ve always wanted to write a novel“, but then the barracudas of life sweep in and suddenly the field thins down to… just you. Damaged, possibly emotionally and physically, but determined.
  • 2) The path to your ultimate goal is not easy, or linear
    There will be numerous challenges along the way. It does not matter how you reach your goal, only that you do reach your goal. If life offers you a chance to speed along on the writing equivalent of the East Australian Current, then take it. (And if any fellow writers have any insight as to what the EAC is for us, then please let me know in the comments!)
  • 3) Strange bedfellows will help you on your journey
    You will come across many types of people that you would not ordinarily hang around with, let alone rely on. These may turn out to be your greatest allies. “Fish are friends, not food.”
  • 4) Push yourself beyond your limits to achieve
    Even if you prefer the comforts of your writer-cave, rubbing yourself continually against the anemone of reassurance before venturing the smallest distance, that won’t take you very far. Embrace new experiences and challenges… You will have to risk rejection, in fact risk everything, to achieve your goals.
  • 5) Trust in your friends
    You cannot complete the journey alone. You will need the support of partners/ family/ critique partners / beta readers / fellow writers to make it. Take a small handful into your confidence, and trust them completely. If they tell you to move to the back of the whale’s throat, you move to the back of the whale’s throat.
  • 6) Understand the industry / agents / publishers
    Rejection is not personal. You are a fish. Those in the industry are birds. As Nigel the pelican says to Marlin and Dory:
    “Sorry if I took a snap at you at one time. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta eat.”
  • 7) Creating a buzz will help you succeed
    If “the whole ocean’s talking about it“, then it may just help you over the finish line when all hope seems lost. This buzz is created organically, without seeking attention.
  • 8) Plan thoroughly
    If your plan is immaculate, and executed to perfection, it is still no good if it leaves you floating on the sea in a plastic bag, with no obvious means of bursting the bubble to finalise your escape. “Now what?
  • 9) Success may not be what you expect
    Achieving your goals may result in you ending up back where you started, physically, but in an entirely different place, mentally and emotionally.
  • 10) Never give up
    The most important lesson of all comes from Dory. “Just keep swimming.”

 

So, those are my top tips for writers from Finding Nemo. Do you have any to add to this list, or advice gained from other unlikely sources?

 

313385621_e2acf4e68d_z

Picture credit: flickr.com/photos/roome/313385621

Coming Up!

I’ve settled into a regular-ish blogging routine now, based around a handful of challenges that I enjoy, and that tolerate my continued wibbling. So, in an attempt to manage my own time as much as your fervent expectations (honestly, it’s like Beatlemania meets Biebermania every time I step out of my own front door), this is what you can expect each day, between now and April (when the poem-a-day blogging challenge kicks in, and I cry myself to sleep every day for failing to prepare despite having no excuse this year).

The BIG NEWS is that I have secured an exciting guest blogger to come and join me every Monday until April… See Yi-Oh will be sharing the benefits of his business nous (in haiku form, obviously) in a new series “The Two-Minute Manager“. I hope you’ll give him a warm welcome when he joins me tomorrow!

MONDAY – Limerick Challenge / The Two-Minute Manager

TUESDAY – Haiku Challenges – Ronovan & haiku horizons

WEDNESDAY – Secret Keeper’s Challenge

THURSDAY – Pop-Culture Thursday… the name needs work, but it’ll be something rhyme-y whyme-y, about something pop-culture-y

FRIDAY – The Great Book of Lists

WEEKENDS – no planned posts, unless for a specific challenge. I’ll be spending Saturdays entirely offline. Go and have some outdoor fun, people!

Plus there will be other bouts of randomness as and when inspiration strikes.

If there are any burning topics, ignored by better poets, that you think need covering in rhyme, let me know below the line 🙂

 

613445810_2249c2d193_z

The scene outside my front door every morning… makes the commute to work a challenge…

Picture credit: flickr.com/photos/jamescridland/613445810