Monday, December 31, 2007

The Power of Three

This Christmas saw me wandering around the Irish countryside visiting friends and family. It was fantastic. Started in County Sligo at Finn's dad's big fort in the mountains (see, then off to County Clare to visit poet and painter Frank Golden. While in Clare I was invited to a fellow fantasy writer's house for dinner and there waiting to surprise me was another friend and fantasy writer whom I hadn't seen in years! She's from Australia but now lives in the Czech Republic. So here we are, three smiling gals: Kate Thompson in the front, Isobelle Carmody to the left, and OR Melling to the right. Have you read the three of us? (Photo credit: Dorothy Towers Thompson)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Doris Lessing

Must speak of Doris Lessing's Nobel Prize for Literature awarded this month. I am so thrilled for this amazing woman! Now I must confess a certain block of her work leaves me cold, chiefly the middle-class women's stuff. As with Margaret Atwood's writing, I admire the intellect and the exquisite craftsmanship, but the content has nothing to say to me. Yet Lessing's speculative fiction is something else. It began with Briefing for a Descent into Hell and reached its peak with the Canopus series. I go into raptures at the thought of The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five and also The Making of the Representative for Planet 8. The first is a mind-opening study of love and sex while the second paints images that still echo in my mind years after I have read them. Conventional critics have never understood Lessing's Sufi-inspired work (she was introduced by no lesser a light than Idries Shah!) but that's because they are blockheads who refuse to look outside the box.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Film Affects

I was working away on the FAQs section of my new website and was listing my favourite movies when it occurred to me that I have never mentioned films which influenced my books. There are scenes in The Hunter's Moon which were directly inspired by the oldest film version of A Midsummer Night's Dream (Max Reinhardt, 1935). It's in black and white with a 14 year old Mickey Rooney as Puck. There's an incredible scene where the King of Faerie, with black eye-liner on his eyes and wearing all black, ascends into the sky, his long dark train unravelling behind him and sparkling with tiny fairies which are also the stars in the night! (And this was wayyyyy before expensive special effects.) A more modern movie that influenced The Summer King is the late Polish genius Krzysztof Kieslowski's Bleu starring Juliette Binoche. Though it has nothing to do with fairies, it deals with death, loss, grief, and newfound love. The film also features the amazing words of 1 Corinthians 13:2, Though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries, if I have not love, I am nothing. The entire verse plays a big part in my book. By synchronicity (that long word for magic) the American cover of The Summer King could certainly be called "bleu"!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Snowy Canada

To balance snowy Ireland on my Blog, here's snowy Canada on my Book Blog. And of course this pic is appropriate here because it is of Creemore, the picturesque town featured in The Book of Dreams. This is where Dana's grandmother lives and also where several scenes are set, in particular the grand finale! By the way, Creemore was settled by the Irish in the 1800s and the town's name comes from croí mór, meaning "big heart." Also, by the way, that gorgeous signage was crafted by my friend Shane Durnford, local artist and artisan extraordinaire.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

New Design

So this wonderful new look on my two blogs is a preview of the overall design that is being created for my website by the fantabulous Terry Findlay of Simtec. Isn't it only gorgeous? I'm thrilled to bits. Right now, however, I am also bug-eyed from trawling through data on the old site to update and send on to Terry. He's in Canada. I'm in Ireland. Fitting for an Irish-Canadian author, eh? With any luck ... what's that saying? ... the cows will be home for Christmas. (What an odd saying. You have to wonder where the cows went in the first place.) Anyway, I shall have a whole new look for the whole new year.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

New Work Space

Yes, I am finally out of the bush pilot space and into a more expansive area for working. Also, cosier. I tell you, in the grey drizzly wet days of an Irish winter there's nothing like an open fire and a new book to warm you up. (And when I say a book, I mean writing one, not reading one.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dana's House

Yes, here is the house on Brunswick Avenue which I chose to be Dana's home in The Book of Dreams. It belongs to a very dear friend of mine and I lived happily here for a year way back when. A beautiful place for the Lord Ganesh to stand guardian over. (Next blog will be a pic of one of his statues in the very place in the Wicklow Mountains where he appears to Dana in a dream.)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Adult Work

I'm thinking about my one and only - so far - work of fiction for adults, Falling Out of Time, which I have not featured on my website. It's my sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll book. Here's the author photo on the back: me as a punky girl, taken by my punky artist sister, YM Whelan, see below.) The bar code is Penguin's. The book came out in Canada and the USA and got great reviews from the L.A. Times and Publisher's Weekly, but mixed reviews on the home front. However, someone did call me "the leprechaun of CanLit." I will include this book, now out of print, on my new website which is being created, even as we speak, by the brilliant Canadian web designer Terry Findlay: I won't give too much away - it will be up by Christmas - but there are sparkles and sounds! So, why am I thinking of my one and only - so far - work of fiction for adults? Because I am utterly entranced with my second work of adult fiction! Yes, it has taken me over and and I am working solely on it. I will get back to the Young Adult one some time next year.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Two Sisters Strut Their Stuff

For those of who have read The Book of Dreams (available in the USA in Fall 2008!), the real-life versions of Dana's mad aunties are having an exhibition of their work in Toronto this week. It is called, appropriately enough, TWO SISTERS and here are the details:
ShinDig: Thursday November 22, 7-11 pm
Exhibition continues to Sunday December 9th 2007
Gallery Hours: Saturdays and Sundays 2:00-7:00 pm
Fountain Gallery
652A Queen Street West at Palmerston (Behind the Second Cup)
Toronto, ON M6J 1E5

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Benbella Anthologies

Just finished my paper, "Being Good for Narnia and the Lion" for another Benbella anthology due out next year. I got quite carried away. Really, CS Lewis was so important to me as a child and I just loved Aslan and The Chronicles of Narnia. The last paper I wrote for this Texan publisher was published in The World of the Golden Compass, ed. by Scott Westerfield which came out last month in America to celebrate the release of the film next month (can't wait). It's sold exclusively by Borders, I think. My paper argues that Philip Pullman's work is very similar to CS Lewis's and JRR Tolkien's, despite the fact he hates both these authors. (Heh, heh.) It's called "Tempest in a British Tea Cup." But Herbie Brennan's "A Short History of Hell and the Crabby Old God Who Sends You There" is much funnier. I also liked Sophie Masson's "Lord Asriel: Dad from Hell or Heroic Rebel?" and Maureen Johnson's "Hot Sex and Horrific Parenting in His Dark Materials." The whole book is a good read, actually.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Magic in Toronto, Canada

He turned at the sound of cloth rustling like wings. Behind him was a statue of a tall angelic figure with shoulder-length hair and a long robe to his feet. The figure strode across a low stone wall with a book in his hand. His head was bowed as he read.
"What are you reading?" the wolf wondered out loud.
"A book of dreams."
"Whose dreams?"
"Ah, that is the question."
Riddles. It was a night of mystery. The wolf accepted the obvious. Magic had come to the city.
Chapter One, The Book of Dreams

Monday, November 05, 2007


Well, the conference was fabulous and well attended. I went to Janet McNaughton's workshop on character which helped me enormously in sorting out an elusive character in my new book. I do believe my key-note speech went over well as - so far - nobody has complained. It was called "The Secret Language of Creation." I put on a bit of a concert, as we say in Ireland, - talked, showed gorgeous slides, and ended with a musical interlude, i.e. Martin Springett on guitar and his two beautiful daughters, Rebecca and Miriam, on flutes playing tunes which Martin wrote inspired by The Chronicles of Faerie. A good show, methinks.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Oíche Shamhna

As many of you know, Samhain marks the beginning of the Celtic New Year, a threshold time when spirits walk, the doors of Faerie open, and the dead speak to the living. This ancient pagan festival is, of course, now celebrated as Hallowe'en. Here is a gorgeous image I found on the Web that perfectly represents the true spirit of this festival and feastday. For more of the artist's amazing work go to: and click on artwork.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fort of the Oak Trees

Here are some pics from my week away. The beautiful landscape is directly in front of the big house at Dunderry. The sweatlodge is used at night under the stars. Everyone piles inside with hot stones steaming up a spiritual sauna. Amazing stuff; magical experiences which I am writing up for my work. Will post more pics on the Blog over the weekend. I'm also frantically preparing for my trip to Canada!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Away with the Fairies

Again. In a big country house in Co. Meath for a week doing research. It was FABULOUS. Did a course in advanced shamanism which included a sweatlodge, firewalk (bigger and longer than previous two), spirit boat, trance dance, holo-shamanic breathwork, night-stalking on Tara, and more. Pics to follow. I was transported. And - no kidding - a couple of real-life soul-shaking fairy experiences that will go directly into my work.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Here's the German edition of The Hunter's Moon as presented in the Spring catalogue of Bertelsmann (Random House Germany). I love the look and sound of the title which means "Under the Fairy Moon". They use a special hardbacked soft cover in Germany, if that makes any sense. (It has a two-page spread but blogger won't upload two photos right now).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Green Earth Book Award

This just in from my publicist at Abrams: "The Light-Bearer’s Daughter by O. R. Melling has been short listed for the Green Earth Book Award in the Young Adult Fiction category. The Newton/Marasco Foundation - in partnership with Salisbury University, Maryland - created the award to promote books for young people that best raise awareness of the beauty of our natural world and the responsibility that we have to protect it. The prize will be announced December 15." Fingers and toes crossed!

Friday, October 12, 2007

More on the Post Below

As well as suggestions offered by some of my favourite bloggers - see comments on post below (thanks, guys!) - mythic fiction writer and Endicott editor, Midori Snyder, sent me the following titles: Stormwitch by Susan Vaught, Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring and Midnight Robber, and Walter Mosely's 47. "All brilliant YA's with African American and Caribbean heroines and heroes and mythology." I'll send these to my reader directly in case she doesn't read my blogs; but I still hope she gets writing herself!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Important Question

I received an amazing email recently from a reader in America. Here's her question in brief: The thing I wanted to ask was how come there are never any black/african-american characters ever represented in faery tales or in stories having to do with faery? Maybe it's the setting or place, but even though I know it's more of a european thing. I really enjoy the stories, the myths, the legends, and I love faeries. I just hope one day I'll see a story where a black girl or boy can run into a silver-tongued mermaid, a fairy prince, or a ghost and is offered an seductive choice whether to walk into the unknown or not. Now, first of all, that is such a beautifully phrased and thoughtful question that I have encouraged this young woman to get writing the very kind of book she hungers for. However, she has raised an important issue. At a time when fantasy is not only the mainstream but indeed the biggest and bestselling section of children's and young adult books, why are there not books featuring main characters of black or brown skin engaging in fantastical adventures? More about this anon. I want to think upon it.

Monday, October 08, 2007

New Books

Any writer will tell you that it's not good to talk about new work in its early stages. Indeed, once upon a time, I talked so much about a new book that I talked it into oblivion! I had all the research, the notes, the ideas, the theme, the plot, the characters etc and I blathered on and on about it to everyone who would listen until after about two years I realised it wasn't being written. However, I can cheat a bit and show you pics from the settings of my two new works. The first pic belongs to the young adult book (which will be the first of a new series) and the second pic belongs to the adult book. They are both coming along so beautifully I could burst with happiness. I keep thinking one will supercede the other, but no, scenes and ideas keep arriving for both, so until that stops I will keep writing both. (Have never done this before. It's really quite thrilling.) Hmm, it looks as if they are similar but they are not. One is set in ancient Ireland and the other is set in the present day. All right, that's enough. Not another word. But, really, I am dying to talk about them. Will go write instead.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Running Interference

There's no doubt about it: when a book wants out, like a baby being born, it just keeps on coming and nothing can stop it! Never mind peace and quiet and no distractions. Today I had six workmen tramping in and out of the house, drilling in the porch and also outside on the driveway, plus blow torches welding pipes and setting off the smoke alarm and there I sat at my PC (now in the bigger living room for a more expansive writing environment) working away, chapter after chapter. Three today and a fourth mapped out. This is brillo. That's the YA book. Now back to research notes and early chapters of the adult one. Oh, and all the racket? New gas pipes going through the entire neighbourhood. Utterly necessary as these houses were built in "the Year Dot" as the foreman said to me.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Going Like the Clappers

Yes, I am happy to report that I am slow to blog these days because I am working away on my two new books. So far, so good. I've mapped out the first of a new YA series chapter by chapter - 23 so far - with titles for each (a new one for me). Now I am blocking out the chapters and writing first draft material with two chapters done so far. Hoping to block out a chapter a day but that may be too ambitious given that I have a load of house and business stuff to do, e.g. clearing out bookshelves, renovating shed, writing my speech for the event below, writing a paper for a book about Narniahhhh. Meanwhile, I am making notes and doing research for my adult novel. Very exciting. I know I am on the right path with these books as synchronicity - that long Jungian word for 'magic' - is already occurring for both. The YA book features Tara in a central role and, as you know from my Blog, I ended up there recently! The adult book takes place in the Outer Hebrides, which I visited two years ago, and some of the research is making the hair stand up on the back of my neck, because it points to exactly what I want to write about!!! (Sorry, can't be any more specific than that. As all writers will tell you, it's dangerous to talk about a work in its early stages. Like fairy fabric, it's weave if delicate and all too frangible. )

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Packaging Your Imagination

Saturday, November 3, 2007 is the date of the annual day of workshops for those interested in writing, illustrating, or performing for children and Young Adults run by CANSCAIP, Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers. Taking place at Victoria College, University of Toronto, it includes an exciting choice of workshops run by established artists in the field, plus a yummy lunch and an inspirational key-note speech by yours truly. My topic: The Secret Language of the Land. There are still places available, so do log on to for more info or ring 416-515-1559. The wonderful presenters include my buddy Martin Springett, Barbara Reid, Janet McNaughton, Sharon Siamon, Susan Juby, Maggie Devries, Muriel Wood, Helaine Becker, Dorothy Joan Harris, Sheila Barry, Frieda Wishinksy and Edo van Belkom. See you there in the Canadian autumn!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Winding Stair Book Room

Here's the bookstore which is featured at the very beginning of The Hunter's Moon, the place where Finvarra first comes looking for Findabhair. Alas, all has changed utterly. The bookshop is only on the first floor and not all three floors as before; therefore you do not go wandering up the old rickety winding stairs. Nor is the coffee shop there on the top floor where you could get homemade cakes and buns. (A great hang-out for students and artists.) Now it's a fancy restaurant that is only opened during certain hours. Sigh. I hate the new Ireland betimes.

German Translator

The German translator of The Hunter's Moon made a flying visit to Ireland yesterday, just in time to join me for the harper's protest in front of the Irish government (see pics on my Blog). Here's Anne and I enjoying a sunny day by the Liffey River before visiting The Winding Stair Bookroom and other venues mentioned in the book. Anne brought me wonderful news. Bertelsmann (Random House Germany) are expecting great things with this book and are putting on a big push to promote it. She herself loved the story so much she travelled to Ireland with a friend to embark on Gwen's journey! Well that made me feel terrific, I can tell you.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Reader Art Work

I love when readers make art based on my work. It is both thrilling and inspiring. I've posted links to wonderful film trailers on Youtube for The Summer King (2 versions) and The Hunter's Moon. Here's a magical piece by S. Dixon who has given me permission to post it (though she didn't say if I should use her full name or not, so I shall put an initial). It's actually glimmering!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Second Tara Gig

In my other Blog I've mentioned the harpers' protest at Dáil Eireann this Saturday, September 22, at 3:00 pm, against the massive motorway that is being run through Tara of the Kings. I'll be there and hope to get a great pic. Now the day after that, Sunday, September 23, also at 3:00 pm there will be a fabulous protest at Tara Hill itself. Hundreds of people will be turning out to form the shape of a giant harp over the hill. I hope to be at that too! Famous Irish actor, Stuart Townsend, is organising this one along with the aerial artist John Quigley. Here's a sample of Quigley's work at the London Eye in England. Tara is, of course, a setting featured at the beginning of The Hunter's Moon and the end of The Summer King. Hmm, is it in any of my other books? The Singing Stone? Janey, I can't remember.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Can't Work

Oh Lordy, I tried to barrel into my next book - actually my next two books, one YA, one adult - and my brain shut down. Have to accept the fact that I am burned out. I've been five years working non-stop on the revision and expansion of The Chronicles of Faerie, re-painting that huge canvas, and I am simply exhausted. Now I keep saying that, but I have trouble accepting it. So I try to write and then my mind seizes up. Whether I like it or not, this workaholic is going to have to take a break.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Done and Dusted!

That's the revision of the fourth and final book in The Chronicles of Faerie off to Abrams New York today. The biggest change involves a major wrap-up of the evil aspect as it (now) winds through the entire series; something that was always there within the story itself but I had somehow missed it. Editorial comments are still to come and also a copy-edit, but it felt quite finished. I am taking a break for the rest of the week - from the writing, that is. Started cleaning out the shed today for Bruce's 'living room' and brought a ton of old electricals to the recycle centre. There's another ton of rubbish to go, sigh. Then I'm putting in plasterboard walls, a ceiling, lino on the concrete, an old sofa, electricals, my drum kit (out of the living room at last!) ... A woman's work is never done.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Nearly There

I have three more chapters plus postscript for The Book of Dreams and then it is done. YAHOO. On schedule, I will have it off by courier this Wednesday. Then it's time to get dug into my new work. Can't wait.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


For those of you have read The Light-Bearer's Daughter, here are some pics of one of the main settings in the book. Lugnaquillia is the highest peak in the Wicklow Mountain range at 925 metres (no idea what that is in feet, sorry) and a fairly easy climb if the weather is clear, which it was, buíochas le Dia. Headed up there with the Second Sunday group on a third Sunday (hey we're Irish, easy on the rules). Stopped about three-quarters of the way up and sheltered in a stony patch for lunch. I had Swiss cheese sambos, baklava from the farmer's market (yum), a green apple, rice crackers, and a thermos of hot tea. Oh, and chocolate that my sister Pat gave me. It was a great climb. I love getting out in the open. PS Check out the sign. It's a warning against the Irish Army's use of the Glen of Imaal as a bombing range. Just shows the risks a writer is ready to take for their work, eh?.

The Summit

Here is the summit where so many scenes were set: Dana and Ivy running to wake the King, Murta attacking them (new version), Lugh's palace of crystal which turns to face the sun (new version), Dana and Lugh meeting, the final huge celebratory party et al. You can see all of Ireland spreading out below. It's beautiful up there but very windy.

Saddle of Bog

The first pic shows the place where King Lugh lay face down, a great stone on his back. See those patches of eroded bog? With her fairy sight, Dana could detect his limbs outlined in their patterns. The second view shows the purple heather on one side of the summit.

Heart of Stone

Found this on the way back down the mountain and, being the rosemantic that I am, I had to take a picture of it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Book Divas Interview

Forgot to mention this! On August 8, Book Divas - an American YA site - posted an interview with me on their blog. Go to and click on Book Divas Blog on the left hand side of the page. A few pleasant questions. My favourite bit - if you keep scrolling down - is Adrian McKinty's interview where he says he looks better than his photo, which is a real scream as he looks like someone on the FBI most-wanted list (as he says himself). His pic is almost as bad as my Canadian passport photo in which I look like a prison guard. When I brought it to my solicitor to sign I warned him, "it's bad." "Oh come on," he said, "everyone says that." Then I gave it to him and he went, "whoa!" I mean, it really is bad. Maybe I should post it for a laugh. Whereas, I look quite nice in my Irish passport, real colleeny. I know, I'll post both of them on my regular blog. But it could be illegal to post your passport photo these days.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Beavering Away

Thought I'd use a good Canadian verb to describe the fact I am working away day and night on The Book of Dreams. Not yet halfway when I'll feel better. We're with Grandfather, Roy, and Jean up in northern Quebec. This is the final draft. (Well, then there's another final draft after the editor gets it.) While I always felt BOD was the best of the four books, I am now trimming and revising to bring it up to scratch with the others! Meanwhile, here's a pic of me and Bette on Anishinabe lands in northern Ontario. We've known each other on and off for nearly 25 years. She makes the best muffins I have ever tasted. Oh, and the new YA book is coming along slowly (on the weekends) while today, I confess, I jotted down some notes for the adult shamanic book. That was cheating, as it is not on schedule till September, but there you are.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Japanese Endpapers

I promised to post more of the gorgeous endpapers from the Japanese editions. The Book of Dreams just arrived today, so here is a sample. It has been published in two volumes (you'll find the covers in the archives). Each volume has the same green secondary cover with soul-birds flying from the tree. The first volume has this lovely illustration of two sleeping soul-birds and The Book of Dreams itself. The second volume has a darling picture of my two favourite characters - guess who!
And here are Dana's madcap Canadian aunties, Dee and Yvonne. They look so cute!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Good News

So far so good, I am trundling along on schedule and feeling quite pleased with myself. At two chapters a day during the week, The Book of Dreams will be finished by the beginning of September. The weekends I have given over to the new book (first of a multi-book Young Adult Celtic mythological series) which is shaping up nicely. Now, as soon as The Book of Dreams is shipped off to Abrams, I will move the new book to the weekday slot and then ... yes ... I will begin the second new book, an adult work based on my shamanic studies, on the weekends. No doubt about it, my Muse is alive and whirring, spinning a stack of ideas into gold.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Creemore Craftsman

Since I am reworking the chapter that features Creemore, Ontario where Dana's grandmother lives (note: Creemore comes from the Irish croí mór, meaning "big heart") I am going to direct you to a fabulous blog of a local sculptor and signmaker who is also a brilliant bagpiper: There you'll see photos of Shane's magical carvings. I first met Shane and his family when I was visiting a friend who has a cottage in the Purple Hills. On discovering Creemore, I decided it was the perfect place for Dana's family. Then, of course, things spiralled and before I knew it the huge climactic scene of the book was taking place there on Hallowe'en! If you go to Shane's website you'll see loads of his handcrafted signs found around Creemore and outlying towns.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

More Endicott

Got a wonderful review from Midori Snyder on the Endicott Studio blog. Have a look at it here: First you get a look at performance artist Carolyn Ryder Cooley's fabulous (in the true sense of the word) photographs and read all about her; then you reach yesterday's post which is about The Light-Bearer's Daughter. Delighted to see in the comments that The Book of Dreams is already being mentioned a year before it comes out in America! Meanwhile I am working madly on said book to make my September deadline. The villain has changed substantially - new name and everything - as I came to understand him more in the revised versions. Definitely less of a vague thing and bit of a surprise at the end, let me tell you.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Doom and Gloom

So I am thinking that I may have to kill off some of my characters in the new version of The Book of Dreams. Really, JK Rowling has presented a serious problem for writers of YA fantasy novels. In the old days you wrote these huge battles in which no one died. Or at least none of your major characters did. But now that the Harry Potter books have introduced death as a significant component of children's books, the average reader will no doubt consider battles in which nobody dies as "unrealistic" at best or "wussy and dumb" at worst. In fact, I was perusing the tables of children's books in my local bookstore today and was struck by the number of books hailing death as their theme. Is anyone else reminded of Watership Down and that awful warren where the chief bard-rabbit sang only of death? That was how our heroes knew they were in a place that was doomed. Is that why we sing of death to our children these days? Are we doomed?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Great Read!

The Endicott Studio's summer edition of the Journal of Mythic Arts is up and it is, as always, a treasure trove of stories, poetry, critical essays, and fabulous illustrations. This edition is specially dedicated to Young Adult fiction and they've included excerpts from The Light-Bearer's Daughter accompanied by two beautiful pictures. Do pop over and have a look (at all of it, I mean, not just my bit!): I'm going to make myself a cup of tea and sit down for a great read.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter

Damn, not getting a tap of work done this weekend! Reading the latest greatest Harry Potter. JK really and truly is a stunning story-teller. It is mesmerising. I can't stop reading it and I don't want to either. However, Finn just wrested the book from my clutching fingers. I put up a fight but she's much stronger than me. The only way I got it in the first place, of course, is that she fell asleep over it last night and I was up earlier. Hah! But now it's gone till my next chance to grab it. I guess I'll shower and get dressed and get on with the day. What time is it anyway? Omigod!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Canadian Dreams

Working away on The Book of Dreams and picking up speed at last. Up to Chapter 33 of 45 chapters. It's a BIG book for a BIG country. Here's my desktop wallpaper at the moment, reflecting exactly where I am in the story. Dana is wind-walking and dream-speaking in the West, and she has crossed the Rockies a few times now. When I finish this penultimate draft, I go back over the lot for the final polish. Deadline: September. Meanwhile, I am turning over my weekends to my new book. Can't breathe a word of it - bad luck to - but I am very excited. Do I get a life in there somewhere? In bits and pieces.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

All Hail the Summer Queen!

Yep, that's my Summer Queen speech on the Green Man website: I fear it's a tad depressive-elated; but, things were pretty desperate at the start of the summer and I wasn't able to pretend otherwise. I like the image, though, of me dangling over the precipice, hanging onto a thread from a spider's web, admiring the view. Would make a nice illustration.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Hunter's Moon - Trailer

Do I have the best readers or what? Here's another wonderful film trailer. And Johnny Depp as Finvarra, oh yes. Feeding my dreams, they are, and inspiring me to keep working.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

July 12th

Happy marching, all you Orange men and women! Let's keep moving closer and closer to the day when this festival and St Patrick's Day are celebrated by everyone just for fun. I know that isn't an easy concept for all those who have suffered - on both sides - but it's not impossible. It has been happening in Canada for years and there's no reason why it can't happen in the homeland, also. And why is this comment in the Book Blog? Because those of you who have read The Book of Dreams (which I am currently revising) know that a central scene occurred on July 12th, 1850, as recorded in Dana's great-great-grandfather's journal.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Belief in Fairies

Here's a terrific video clip by my dear friend and fellow author Herbie Brennan of the fabulous Faerie Wars series. This is only the tip of the ice-berg in terms of his Faerie experiences. If I ever get a hold of a video camera, I shall record some of mine! Yes, indeed, lots of what we write is pure imaginative fiction, but then there are the other bits ...

Friday, July 06, 2007

New Agent

Just back from London where I met with my new agent. Very exciting. More about that anon, but deadlines to meet before the day is through. See pic on Blog of me with new boyfriend in Regents Park.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Summer Queen

Sent off my Summer Queen speech to the mystical magical Greenman site. Will let you know when it goes up. (If you've forgotten the url, here it is: I do believe there will be music too. I am in noble company being so honoured. The great Jane Yolens was the Winter Queen a while back. Meanwhile, even as I draw near to the end of the Herculean task of revising The Chronicles of Faerie, I am already being inundated with ideas for characters, books, films, television series, and graphic novels, all clamouring to be given life. Recently I feared that my failure to embark on truly new work these past few years might have killed my Muse or at least driven her away. But, no, seems she was just waiting for me. Soon, dear heart, soon.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Back to Work

In more ways than one (see regular Blog). But yes today I began inputting all my ideas for changes to The Book of Dreams, chapter by chapter. That should take about two weeks or more. Then another month or two to actually do the rewrite. Definitely want to make my September deadline so I can collect the rest of my advance and start on my new book! (Have already begun, actually, sneaking away to another file to write notes for it when I should be doing t'other.) Nice bit of excitement: tomorrow RTE is sending a taxi to bring me to the Radio Centre in Montrose where I'll be interviewed by Brian Tubridy (brill presenter on both radio and TV). He's doing a programme on the 1950s and I'll be talking about emigrating wayyyy back then, in 1957, by ship, when I was very very little (of course). Then next week I am off to London, England. More about that anon.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Dana's Dad at a Gig

Look closely and you'll see Gabriel playing away in the shadows. Actually this is Michael McGoldrick, the brilliant Irish flautist. It often happens to writers - you discover your characters alive in the 'real' world! FUSED is the name of the album this particular tune is recorded on and the tune itself is James Brown's March.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Yes, it's June 16, Bloomsday, celebrated the world over by readers and fans of James Joyce. This is the date on which all the events in Ulysses occurred as Leopold Bloom wandered around Dublin City, circumnavigating his thoughts. Indeed I did read the book from cover to cover. Took me three months. And even then, I doubt I could have done it if I hadn't listened first to that amazing word-for-word radio production by RTE back in 1982. It was broadcast live over three days and Canada was one of the few countries which took the full production. Brought my radio into work and lost a lot of sleep. It was utterly brilliant. You could really "hear" what Joyce was doing. PS this is the pic of Joyce dancing which hangs over my desk. The greatest gift he gave to writers is this: you don't have to be strangled by classical narrative form. If your story or your words want to go elsewhere - let them.

Pullman Put to Bed

Finished my Pullman paper yesterday for the American anthology on His Dark Materials, right on the deadline, just in time to party with the Green Party (see Blog). Despite agonizing over it in the early stages, convinced that I had lost all ability to either think or write, I am really pleased with the end result. There are even some funny bits. I'll post title and publication of that book nearer to the time it's coming out. Meanwhile, back to the drawing board, clean up the desk, and finish the revisions to The Book of Dreams, due September. But guess what. I am writing notes for my next book. Can't breathe a word about it, but I am terribly excited. It's bubbling away there in my psyche.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Wicklow Mountains

For those of you who are reading The Light-Bearer's Daughter, here are a few pics of the hills through which Dana trekked. These are of the area around Ballybraid and Mullaghcor which I was hillwalking yesterday. There are more photos of the mountains in the archives, if you want to trawl through them. And I'll be posting shots of Lugnaquillia and Glendalough and such in the near future. Now back to the grant applications which I am complaining about below.
Another view, as we head back down from Mullaghcor. (Forgot to take pics on the peak, as it was too windy.)
Here's my sister, Pat, chatting with Maggie on the side of Ballybraid before we headed up Mullaghcor. The rest of the gang are behind me, so we are the slow moe's here. Later on, we trooped for a good hour along the road that's hanging there in the forest like a brown garter snake.

Grant Gripe

A regular part of the average artist's life is filling out forms for arts grants and bursaries. I am working on two at the moment. That's it. Time to hit the bestseller list and forget about this grubby grant grabbing gig!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Getting there

Almost finished my Pullman paper. At first it was too academic and boring. Then Herbie Brennan let me read his, which is utterly brilliant and hilarious, and that made me lighten up mine. Yes, I think it is quite good now. Meanwhile, here is my desktop picture. I want to step inside it and visit. The house is in the old town of Ghadames, Libya, and has been decorated for a wedding. The town itself, a World Heritage Site, has been continuously inhabited for 4,000 years. Photo by Naftali Hilger/arabian eye, Saudi Aramco World calendar 2007 (hanging up in my kitchen).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fantastic Toronto

Here's a fantastic new site my google alerted me to: A Toronto writer herself, Ms Bennett has compiled a list of science fiction, fantasy, and horror set in or involving that fine city. I'm delighted to see that I am included in the survey with some extensive quoting in particular from The Book of Dreams. I note that she didn't mention the Toronto Troll Transit (TTT). I had already decided to exclude the troll transport system from the new edition of the book (OTT) but I will leave the troll patrol itself chasing Dana through the subway.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Golden Compass - Official Teaser

Though Iorek is all wrong (he should be bigger, wilder, more dangerous!) and so, too, is Lord Asriel (ditto!), everything else looks fabulous. Love Serafina and also Nicole Kidman as Mrs Coulter. I agree with the film-makers - as opposed to the author - that Mrs Coulter should be blond, instead of dark-haired. (Only her daemon is golden, in the book.)Though I stand against Philip Pullman's attacks on CS Lewis and Tolkien, I do love his trilogy and can't wait to see the film.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Slow Moe

Lordy, it's Wednesday night already and I haven't done a tap of work this week! There just seems to be so many other things a body has to do - emails, business letters, accounts, shopping, laundry, telephone calls, quick trip to the gym with Finn (who is doing her exams, so must have extra motherly support). And I've decided I am heading off to Findhorn in Scotland for an Experience Week this summer and must go online and book it. Have a look at their website: Yep, another hippy dippy thing; but I do love this stuff. It comes under the heading of "magic" for me. It is how I feed my soul. So I can write. Which reminds me ... I haven't done a tap of work this week! Tomorrow.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Off to the Country

I am off to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annagh-makerrig in County Monaghan for my annual get-down-to-serious work residency. The Book of Dreams needs to be wrestled to the ground and this will, I know, do it. I have almost finished reading/listening to it (see below) and making notes. Now I must re-work the demon line to co-ordinate with the new version of The Light-Bearer's Daughter and I want to revise Dana and Jean's line, also, i.e. develop it some more. Plus there is a lot of fat and unnecessary blather to trim. Meanwhile, here's a bluebell patch in the woods near Jampa Ling, the Buddhist retreat I go to in County Cavan. I've posted a pic of the big house on my regular blog. I think of Annaghmakerrig as my heart's home and Jampa Ling as my soul's home. And I know I am very lucky to have them both!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Lewis, Tolkien, and Pullman

Ah, life and work can get very interesting at times. I've been asked to contribute to an anthology of essays on Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. I thoroughly enjoyed Pullman's books, despite my objections to his constant attacks on my two favourite writers, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. Mind you, I'm sure he would shudder to hear that I didn't think he was attacking religion in his trilogy, but rather science! i.e. I thought the Church in the alternate Oxford was a reflection of the scientific community in our world. Afterall, it's scientists who experiment on living creatures and, if they get the chance, humans. Anyhoo, I've decided to write a paper discussing the influences of Lewis and Tolkien on Pullman's work. That should be fun. The anthology - which will also include an essay by my dear friend, Herbie Brennan of Faerie Wars - is due out at the same time as the first film. The publisher is American, based in Texas,

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Alchemyst

The new edition of The Light-Bearer's Daughter is dedicated to a dear friend and fellow writer, Michael Scott, whose own book - magical and amazing - is on its way out into the world this very month also. And Michael himself has just set out for a grand reading tour of America, including Hawaii, so keep a look out for him in case he is coming to your home. Here's his website if you want to know more about him: He is already famous for his many books on Irish fairy and folklore (some with gorgeous covers by Brian Froud) but this new fantasy series - which has been snapped up by New Line Cinema - is about to send him into the mega-stratosphere. And no better man. Hup ye boyo!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Thoughts of Narnia

I'm rather cross with the edition of The Chronicles of Narnia which I bought recently, published in one volume and stating "all seven books - unabridged." Though the text is, indeed, fully intact, the edition excludes a great number of Pauline Baynes's illustrations. Had I realised this, I would not have bought it. For me, since childhood, Miss Baynes's work is an integral part of my Narnian experience. And while I am griping, here's something else I object to: the insistence that one should read the books beginning in a certain order, i.e. with the most boring of them all (again, an opinion since childhood) The Magician's Nephew. Had I started with that book as a child, I would not have finished the series! I actually started with The Silver Chair, which I loved, and then sought out the book which I truly believe is the best one to start with, i.e. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Why? Because you couldn't possibly get the full thrill out of the creation of Narnia if you hadn't already bonded with that land through the first book written about it. Nowadays we would call The Magician's Nephew a prequel - something written after the original work, but referring to events chronologically preceding it. By its very nature, a prequel requires the prior experience of the original work for full comprehension and enjoyment. A final thought: while I have loved The Chronicles of Narnia all my life and always will, I do feel that the two weakest books are the ones which really can't stand alone, i.e. The Magician's Nephew and The Last Battle. The first and the last stories in chronological terms, these books require the others in the series for emotional impact. The stories just aren't strong enough to engage you on their own, like say, The Horse and His Boy.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Lá Bealtaine/May Day

On this very auspicious day - Lá Bealtaine or May Day - the new and improved version of The Light-Bearer's Daughter has begun her journey into the great land of America. Go well, my child. Meanwhile, on this side of the water, I celebrated the full moon and the fairy feast of May Eve (last night) by doing a fire-walk. Don't be fooled by the grey and ashen look of the ground here, caused by the camera's flash. It was all red and sparky when I strode through it! Four times. Yesiree. And on each side there was a little wall of flame and smoke. This was a shamanic first for me, but I also kept in mind both Dana and Laurel facing the feux follets in the final Chronicle of Faerie. There'll be some new bits added after this experience.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Back to Work (again)

I am finally back at work on the revisions to The Book of Dreams. It's over a month since I have even attempted to do this. I realize now that losing my annotated copy of the book had a much greater effect on me than I originally thought. Afterall, I had made notes up to Chapter 22 - almost halfway through the book! - and losing them meant I had to start all over again. An appalling prospect. But, in fact, it has been greatly helped by my listening to the CNIB/INCA (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) version of the book which is read by Irish-Canadian poet Lucy Brennan. Here's a pic of the two of us at a party which Kathy Stinson and Peter Carver threw for me when I was in Canada a while back. Thanks to Lucy, I am already up to Chapter 8 and I only started yesterday! Listening to her, I am actually enjoying my own work while busily scribbling away. You know, it's not a bad story. And what did I do all the time I wasn't writing? Well, I went quietly mad.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Tolkien Complex

Yeah, I've got one. So here's my version of author-in-a-tree, in homage to his. My sister Pat took it on one of our hiking jaunts, when I dragged her up the Powerscourt Waterfall which you are NOT supposed to climb as it is extremely dangerous. But I needed to do it for research in The Light-Bearer's Daughter. This old woods is on top of the falls. I set a scene here between Dana and a fairy woman. As you step beyond the trees you are suddenly faced with waves of green hills: the Wicklow Mountains.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Reader Mail

Often when I get letters or emails from readers thanking me for my work, they say "this probably isn't important to you" or "I'm sure you hear this all the time, so it makes no difference." Let me say this clearly: it IS important to me and it makes a HUGE difference. Like most or probably all writers, I have times when I am tortured with self-doubt and I agonize over whether I have wasted my life or if I am doing the right thing or if I should be writing something more profound than fairy tales. When readers tell me that my stories have helped them through a dark time or refreshed their souls or made them happy, I am elated. It's not enough to write for prizes or money, though these things can be nice in themselves. Einstein said, "only a life lived for others is worthwhile." And Victor Frankl, the great psychologist and survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, concluded that ultimately we need to know that what we do has meaning. So to every reader who thanks me, I say thank you.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Japanese Book of Dreams

Here are the covers for the two-volume Japanese edition of The Book of Dreams, to be published May 31 of this year. My Japanese agent at Tuttle-Mori says the colours are much brighter in person, but I think these are gorgeous nonetheless! Will try to post the two together.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

German Rights Sold!

Would you believe, I forgot to post this bit of excellent news. Yes, I have a German publisher: Verlag Random House GmbH, also known as Bertelsmann. Can't wait to see what kind of covers they do. This means I can give books to Finn's Austrian cousins (on her Dad's side) who speak German and very little English. Wunderbar!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Poems and Stories

Headed up to Baronscourt in Northern Ireland last week (halfway between Omagh and Strabane)to put on two days of writing workshops for the Pushkin Trust. Founded by the Duchess of Abercorn, it's a wonderful programme involving students, teachers, student teachers, artists (writers, painters, musicians, composers etc) and environmentalists, from both sides of the border. The writing workshops are held in a log cabin by a lake, with a wood stove and candles. I've run workshops there for adults, but this week it was primary school children. Decided to use some Native Canadian artifacts I had collected in my travels, i.e. a rain stick, a birch bark berry basket, and a moose horn. They inspired wonderful poems and stories.

Monday, March 26, 2007

It's Here!

My advance copy of the Abrams edition of The Light-Bearer's Daughter arrived today and omigod, it is only gorgeous! All goldy and shimmery. I couldn't have imagined a book more beautiful than the first two and yet here it is. It is due out in American bookstores as of May 1. Readers in other countries can order it online from (Sorry, but still no sign of my Canadian publishers bringing out the new versions.) At 348 pages, it is almost three times the size of the original. This is the most thorough re-write of all the books and I am very pleased with it. Excerpts will be published in the May online edition of the prestigious Journal of Mythic Arts, They are doing a Spring Special on Young Adult literature. Will keep you posted about that.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Summer King (Trailer, Fan Made)

Look at this! A fellow blogger found it on YouTube. (Thanks, Salerio!) I think it's fabulous. You know, I don't mean to crow, but I've always noticed that my readers tend to be particularly creative and brilliant.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Good News, Bad News

Well, the good news is that my American publishers, Abrams NY, have decided to publish The Book of Dreams as a big Fall book in September 2008, so there is no rush on the revisions. In fact, the manuscript doesn't have to be in till September of this year. Given that the book is over 500 pages, this is brilliant. The bad news, of course, is that I am majorly dossing (Hiberno-English for procrastinating) at an even worse rate than usual. Still, I am reading a chapter a day and making notes and Finn is reading it too, being my first editor. Yes, I pay her. A tenner plus taxi service. Now, must go read Chapter 22.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Spadina Bus

Here it is, back again. Lost it when trying to fix a problem for Firefox users. Aside from it being a hoot, this video reflects what I am working on right now. Toronto - and Spadina Avenue itself - both feature in the last Chronicle of Faerie.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Writer on the Web

Canadian author Richard Scrimger has finally got his act together and put up a website. Of course it's a hoot, like himself. Have a look at And, yes, I clicked on the "Nothing" bar first. Bet you do too.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Lá Phádraig Punk

Here's the song that Gwen and the leprechaun are listening to on the Triumph Herald radio in The Hunter's Moon. Yep, it's The Rocky Road to Dublin by the Dropkick Murphys. Hup ye boyos!

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Lost a month's work by being a scatterbrain. I've been making notes in an old edition of The Book of Dreams as part of my revisions. Yesterday I took the book into Dublin with me (to work on the DART) and left it on a bench in St Stephen's Green. Ach, it was a sunny day, the flowers were blooming, the ducks gliding over the pond, and Finn and I were chatting away about the future. I must've put the book down and forgot to pick it up again. By the time I realised that I had lost it, the park was locked up for the night. Sigh. Back to the beginning. Meanwhile, for those of you who have read the old version, have a look at this website: Dana's daft aunties, Deirdre and Yvonne, are based on two of my artist sisters. Here you'll see that Dee is alive and well and making art indeed.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Japanese Artwork

I promised to post more of the exquisite artwork found in my Japanese editions. Here is a dotey depiction of a boggle in the mountain grasses (from The Light-Bearer's Daughter). If you want to see the gorgeous full-colour covers, click on my website above and then on Bibliography, scrolling down to Japan. This artist has achieved a wonderful blending of traditional Japanese artistic features with classical English illustrative techniques, producing an overall enchanting effect! It's obvious that he or she actually read the books which does not always happen, usually because of time constraints. I'm going to contact Kodansha to ask for the artist's name so I can post it here.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Tibet in Dundalk

Attended a reading by my friend, Siofra O'Donovan, at Hughes & Hughes bookstore in Dundalk on Saturday. I've blogged her wonderful book, Pema and the Yak, about her travels amongst the Tibetan exile community in northern India. (See archives May 2006). Here's a pic of her painting the cover of her book in a Tibetan monastery in Dharamsala. Members of the Irish Tibetan community (there are 17 thus far) attended the reading and we had lunch together, momos with chili sauce - yum! They spoke personally, as does Siofra in her book, of the suffering of the Tibetan people and the devastating destruction of their land, culture, and religion by the Chinese conquest. The powerful nations of the world do not act against the brutal Chinese dictatorship in Tibet because they do business with the Chinese government. And, of course, Tibet has no oil.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Working at Last!

Have finally begun work on the last Chronicle, The Book of Dreams, after weeks of dithering, recovering from flu, and exploring my Buddhist leanings. The e-files are broken down into chapters, I've been reading and making notes, and now I am drawing up the big wall chart that shows me what is happening in each chapter. So there I am, working away on the chart, when in comes Hamish, a big fat wet cat who walks right across it and leaves muddy paw prints all over it. Appropriately enough, I guess, since he appears in Chapter 3 as the King of Cats. And I'm delighted it's raining. That's why Ireland has so many writers. What else is there to do when it's lashing outside?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Japanese Edition Ahoy!

Heard today that the Japanese edition of The Book of Dreams will be published in April of this year. Can't wait to see it! I understand it will be in two volumes. Kodansha do the most exquisite covers and there are always smaller illustrations at the beginning of the book such as this one at the front of The Summer King (Granuaile's galley). I'll post some of their other illustrations plus the maps of Ireland in Japanese. Honestly, I just adore foreign translations. They are so exciting.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Summer King in Slovenian

Copies of the Slovenian edition of The Summer King arrived today. Findabhair took one look at Ian on the cover and said, "hello, hello." There is a nice pattern to the artwork of this Slovenian series. Each cover depicts attractive young people and a central image of a moon disc with the shadow of an animal figure featured in the tales, i.e. here you see Laheen, the great golden eagle. The Light-Bearer's Daughter cover (see below) shows the shadow of Dana's wolf guardian, while The Hunter's Moon cover (in the archives) presents the Faerie king on his horse. Nicely done.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Gaeilge Abú!

I have written in my personal blog about Mark Abley's Spoken Here, a book concerning endangered languages. Here I want to speak about its relevance to my own work. The use of the Irish language in The Chronicles of Faerie is no light matter. Yes, its chief role is literary. As the true language of Irish síscealta - fairy tales - it bows towards the Source, the creative Well of my ancestors, from which I draw my inspiration. Thematically, it implies esoteric and ancient knowledge; the power of arcane words which can 'spellbind.' It is also used to enhance the poetic and lyrical weave of the text. Like Tolkien's elvish languages, Irish is a silver thread that shimmers through the stories. But there is another reason why I use it. A political and racial one. As Abley clearly points out, our mother tongues will only survive when we go beyond cherishing them and insist on using them.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Slovenian Edition

And look what arrived today. The Slovenian edition of The Light-Bearer's Daughter. These covers are quite different from the usual. (The one for The Hunter's Moon is somewhere in the Archives.) They accent the teen girl heroes instead of the faerie fantasy. It's interesting to see what is the chief element in different countries, i.e. fairies, landscape, character, magic or whatever. The Summer King is also out in Slovenia but I haven't got a copy of it yet. Will post when it arrives. I love getting these foreign editions. Quite thrilling even if I can't read them. (At least I know the story.) I've been giving my extra copies to the library as Ireland is now getting immigrants from all these countries. Oh, latest news. German is the next language up, hurrah. (Couldn't find hurrah in my English-German dictionary.)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Green Man

Do pop over to Wait till the green masks stop winking at you, then click on "What's New" when the Main Menu shows up. There you'll read about me serving bar in the Green Man Pub. Virtual reality is wondrous and wyrd. And it's a fabulous site if you haven't visited before!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Short Story Competition

Irish Dancing & Culture Magazine - - are sending me the finalists in a short story competition set up with a feature they did on me in the November edition. I gave them the idea of a fairy wanting to compete in the championships. I took a line from the song "The Girl With the Buckles on Her Shoes" which goes to the air of the set dance, King of the Fairies: a fairy dancing to the fiddles as they sing. (When I was 16, I toured Ireland with the Irish-Canadian Choral Society and danced a solo of that dance as the choir sang the song. My claim to fame: I danced for the Irish President, Eamon de Valera, at his official home in Phoenix Park. ) I'll be reading the last five entries, ranking the winners, and offering comments. Normally I don't read anyone's work, because of time and legal restrictions, but I'm looking forward to this.