Category Archives: travels

Co Clare adventure

So I promised some people photos from our Easter trip to Co. Clare, Bunratty Folk Park, the Burren, the Cliffs of Moher etc etc.

Boy are you going to regret that request. Sit back, this may take some time… (hope it works!)

 

Any questions leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer. Yes, I’ve probably misspelled half the names. It was a beautiful place and such a special holiday. Lots of story inspiration and plotbunnies too!

Hope you enjoy.

A little break in our usual programming

Just to let people know I’ll be mostly offline for the next couple of weeks.

But when I come back… oh when I come back…

 

*awkward silence*

In the meantime, I found this clip of Eddie Lenihan, a seanchaí, and his story of the black dog. Seanchaí are traditional Irish storytellers and folk historians. I love Black Dog legends. There’s one near where I grew up, and my mother’s family come from Dartmoor so… enough said.

I’m currently reading Eddie Lenihan’s book Meeting the Other Crowd.

For reasons.

 

Titancon & the Giant’s Causeway

I’m a little late writing this one up for a number of reasons, but they basically boil down to lots to do and no energy to do it with. Plus finishing my WiP, the Space Opera. Well, now that has gone off to my wonderful critters, I can’t put blogging off any more, can I?

Titancon was fantastic fun. So well run and entertaining for all of us. We had a ball. One of the really awesome thing was that Leigh Bardugo (author of SHADOW AND BONE) and Joanna Volpe from New Leaf Literary were there and we got to hang out. I have photos, which are all slightly wobbly as my camera decided to play up.

So first, on Friday night, we had readings in McHughs as part of Culture Night Belfast
Ruth reading from The Treachery of Beautiful ThingsLeigh reading from Shadow and Bone

Titancon was Saturday. We had panels on Romance in SFF, on becoming a professional author, on working in the Internet age. We met people from the TV show, A Game of Thrones. We had lots of fun and a lovely lunch.

Ruth and LeighPeadar Ó Guilín, Ruth and Leigh

Some of the encounters were pretty action packed. (that’s why its blurry, honest!)
Water dancing with Syrio Forel (Miltos Yerolemou)

Many thanks to Miltos and Johannah!

A great day was had by all. And here is a wobbly picture of Joanna, Leigh and myself with the Game of Thrones banners.
Joanna, Leigh, Ruth

We stayed for the Masquerade, which was fab and then the next day we decided to go to the Giant’s Causeway, little knowing we would be stalked by the Game of Thrones bus tour!

The Causeway was fantastic. I’ve never been before and always wanted to. Here’s a slideshow of some of my photos (my camera suspiciously decided to cooperate once the con was over!)

 

Titancon this weekend

This afternoon I’m heading up to Belfast for the kick off of Titancon.

Really looking forward to this one.

Tonight, as part of Culture Night Belfast, a group of the visiting authors will be reading in McHugh’s Bar, including Ian MacDonald, Peadar Ó Guilín, Leigh Bardugo and myself amongst others.

Tomorrow is a full day of panels and events, lots of Game of Thrones. My schedule (from the Titancon website) looks like this:

11.30 am – Is there still room for romance? Panel: Ruth Frances Long (mod), Peadar Ó Guilín and Leigh Bardugo
In this age of dark and gritty fantasy is there still room for romance? If so, what does it take to write a convincing and uncontrived love story or subplot?

2.00 pm – Foreshadowing in the Internet age Panel: Ian McDonald (mod), Peadar Ó Guilín, Ruth Frances Long and Ken Magee

Twenty years ago SF/F writers could include subtle hints and clues about the future direction of the story knowing that maybe one reader in a hundred would guess what would happen next. Now with the Internet that one reader can share their ideas with everyone else and suddenly an authors’ brilliant twist becomes an obvious thing that everyone knew ages ago. Is it more of a challenge to foreshadow stories in the Internet age? How can you successfully keep the twists and turns hidden and surprising whilst avoiding being overly subtle and obscure or turning to dues-ex-machina?

3.00 pm – How to become a published author Panel: Joanna Volpe (mod), Ian McDonald, Ruth Frances Long, Leigh Bardugo, Ken Magee and Colin Tate (Clarion Publishing)

Our guests including authors, a literary agent and a publisher discuss what it takes to go from amateur to professional writer, the pitfalls to avoid and tips on how to succeed.

4.00 pm – The eBooks Debate Panel: Peadar Ó Guilín (mod), Ruth Frances Long, Leigh Bardugo, Joanna Volpe and Ken Magee

With eBook sales now overtaking physical books the publishing industry is undergoing a radical transformation. What does this mean for publishers and have they taken the right steps to transition into this new medium? Are prices fair and acceptable for consumers whilst still offering enough growth for publishers to enable them to keep doing the vital jobs of editing, proofing and promotion? Or is self publication the way forward cutting out the middleman? eBooks is a topic sure to spark a strong debate that will pull no punches.

5.00 pm – Author guests signing session – Authors: Ian McDonald, Peadar Ó Guilín, Ruth Frances Long, Leigh Bardugo and Ken Magee

Our author guests will be signing copies of their books. Many of them will have a small stack of books with them that are available for purchase.

Yes, I am bringing a small stack of books. Most of them are The Treachery of Beautiful Things but some of my R. F. Long ones are coming too. As Treachery as never been to a convention before and might panic.

So if you’re in the Belfast area, come and say hello!

The Loire Valley post

So for the last two weeks we’ve been in the sunny Loire Valley in France, visiting Chateaux (only slightly for research purposes), a zoo, a Templar Commanderie (only slightly for research purposes). And stairs. So many stairs!!!

So here is the by now photo heavy “what I did on my summer holidays” post. I’m splitting them up into sections with short slideshows so its easier to skip if you want to. Please forgive my typos. I’m tired, it’s been a long post. Skip what you need to.

Continue reading The Loire Valley post

Prague, Churches & Libraries

Back home again after my library conference in Prague which went very well. Although I do appear to be the one person to visit Prague and come away without seeing the Charles Bridge or the Astronomical clock. But hey, there are at least two reasons to go back. Actually I have LOTS of reasons to go back. And being that we were there as a group of specialist librarians on tour (as it were – herding cats), we got to see some rather special stuff at a lot closer range than many people would. Things like this:

Continue reading Prague, Churches & Libraries

How I spent my summer holidays part 2 – Megalithic

Ok, so I’ve delayed posting this evening as I should have but I completely blame the brand new shiny shiny phone that arrived today. Did I mention it’s shiny???

Part 2 of the holiday theme was Megalithic. Brittany is of course awesome for all things megalithic. It has Carnac, to begin with. Actually Carnac pretty much trumps a lot of things, leaving aside the likes of Newgrange and Stonehenge. But anyway… it doesn’t just have Carnac.

I’m starting to form the opinion that the Bretons and their ancestors have something of an unspoken obsession with stones. With stones and the sea. The two seem to go hand in hand. All along the shore line at Point de la Torche, and on the rocky outcrops of Pointe de Raz in previous years, we found little towers of stones.  Everyone builds one. No one could offer us a reason why. Just because, I suppose. I wonder if there’s something in the air, something that makes one want to leave their own mark. I’m also starting to wonder if it’s something to do with Ankou, the Breton personification of Death, who leaves stones behind when he takes the dead away. (Ah yes, hello plotbunnies, there you are again).

I did mention there’s a Brittany book, didn’t I? 🙂

On the first day of our holiday we went to La Roche aux Fées (or the Fairy Rock) at Essé, a passage grave, uncovered for centuries, which looks like a giant table. Like Newgrange, the chamber is aligned with the rising sun of the winter solstice. I love the picture of the beech tree growing around the massive stones at the base. Nature always finds a way. And as we meandered through many tourists, took photos and gadded about in general, we found more piles of stones, balanced daintily on the gnarly trunk of the old beach tree by the entrance.

Carnac is a strangely peaceful place, especially considering the number of people it attracts. During the summer the alignments themselves are closed off, though you can see them clearly enough from behind the low, drystone walls (perfectly balanced and built by hand). The area becomes a wildflower and wildlife preserve. In winter one can book tours which allow you inside. There’s a reason to go back. The site is spread out over several areas, so we didn’t get to see it all. But there is an atmosphere to the place I really wasn’t expecting. It was lovely.

It also helped that near the Ménec alignments we found the most wonderful crêperie, Au Pressior, surrounded by a stone enclosure, where we had the best crêpes ever. No really. Mine had goat’s cheese, honey and nuts. They were perfect. It made our day.

The other thing about Carnac that the photos can’t capture are the colours — the stones themselves, the plants and flowers (purple, white and yellow like gold in the sunlight). The difference in the textures, the constant movement of butterflies and long grasses. And all so peaceful (except for my children playing Harry Potter and giving me story ideas, loudly!) We also found a stone at Carnac that appears to have a face of it’s own. (More plotbunnies – the kids helped with that one!)

Out to the far west, La Torche itself, the huge rock outcrop on the point in the shape of (you guessed it) a torch, is dramatic enough to feature in any number of stories. Believe me, I have ideas.

So anyway, here’s my slideshow of our visits to Megalithic Brittany, old and new!

How I spent my summer holidays part 1

The reason for the parts? Ah yes, well, there are many photos. So many in fact they fall into different categories. As did our holiday, in a sense. Medieval, Megalithic, Geographic, Folklorish, with the overriding theme of research. Strangely enough I didn’t get a lot of reading done. We did watch the series Pillars of Heaven which tied in with the first section – Medieval. Continue reading How I spent my summer holidays part 1