Tag Archives: self-publish

The Parting by Patrick Stack

The Parting

Patrick Stack started writing at 12 after hearing a piece of verse on the black and white TV. Now he has written a full collection of poetry with Selfpublishbooks.ie - this week we asked him to share his experience.

“I’ve always had a love for the sound of language,” Patrick says. “As a child and teenager I would regularly take down one of the four volumes of The Imperial Dictionary of the English Language from the shelf in our living room and read it. This had belonged to my paternal grandfather who died when my father was 7 or 8 years old. I was enthralled by the little lithographs scattered throughout its pages to illustrate some obscure word, and fascinated by the etymological information in each entry. I was the only one who ever consulted it, and was given it to keep by my parents when I left home. My love of language has lead me speaking five languages with varying degrees of fluency. I intend learning a sixth – Korean – when time permits. It has also lead, albeit indirectly, to my working in the field of web and database programming, where I use computer languages such as html, css, php, JavaScript, and SQL.”

A poet has to take direction from other authors — we asked Patrick who he named as his idols.

“That’s a difficult one! My favourite poets during my formative period at Trinity were William Blake, Arthur Rimbaud, Gerard de Nerval, Guillaume Appolinaire, and Paul Eluard.
“Later on I developed a love for the Argentinian writer and poet, Jorge Luís Borges – I especially liked his short poems, but didn’t much like his longer more descriptive stuff.
“The minimalist poetry of Thomas McGreevey inspires me, as does Michael Hartnett’s Irish language poetry.”

How long was The Parting in the works? How did it begin?

“The Parting has been in the works for a long time. I have wanted to publish my own collection since I was an undergraduate in Trinity in the late 1970s, but back then there was no such thing as self-publishing (unless you count vanity publishing which was costly) and getting a poem published – never mind a collection – was a daunting prospect.
“Over the years I’ve produced several collections which, thankfully, never saw the light of day. The Parting is a compilation of the best poems that have survived from these, as well as my most recent work. The early surviving poems have undergone varying degrees of paring, pruning and gutting. One, ‘Tricolour’, has grown from a fragment (6 lines) written in 1989 shortly after I emigrated to Spain, to its final 57-line version completed in 2008 well after I had returned to Ireland.
“Coming up with an appropriate title for the collection proved a major stumbling block. With help from my daughter I eventually settled upon The Parting, given that the collection deals with many types of parting.”

Patrick is on the committee for the Three-Legged Stool Poets – we asked him how he got involved.

“The committee that runs the the Three-Legged Stool Poets has just decided to rename it 3-Legged Stool Poets, so I’ll refer to it as that from now on. It was started back in the early 2000s and came out of another group called ‘The Poetry Collective’ which was the brainchild of Arthur Watson. Arthur is still actively involved.
“Soon after I emigrated to Spain I stopped writing, and did not start again until early 2007 – a period of 16 years in the wilderness as it were! As I had not been writing or even reading poetry in all that time, I was unaware of the existence of any poetry groups in the Munster area. In 2007, I gave my first reading in 20 years in the Georgian House, Limerick as part of the Mozart and Wine fundraising night run by Summer Music on the Shannon. Although I was terrified, the reading proved to be a huge success. Barney Sheehan of the Whitehouse Poetry Revival was in the audience, and asked me to come and read at the Whitehouse, which I subsequently did. During that reading I happened to mention that I had been trying unsuccessfully to make contact with the 3-Legged Stool Poets, which I had been told about by somebody in Ennis. Unbeknownst to me, Brian Mooney happened to be there that night and came up and introduced himself. That’s how I came to join the group.
“Through my contacts in Summer Music on the Shannon, the group secured a regular monthly reading in Glór, Ennis in 2008 and that initiative is still going.”

Every poet has a favourite poem. We asked Patrick which poem he enjoyed writing most in The Parting and why?

“The first one that comes to mind is ‘Dog Burial’, followed closely by ‘Epithalamion.’ ‘Dog Burial’ has been around a long time, the first version dating back to 1979. It was written in memory of a greyhound, Millie, who was my mother’s favourite of all the greyhounds we kept, hence the dedication. Many re-writings later, it has achieved that terseness and minimalism which best expresses the grief of losing Millie and having to bury her in the orchard.
“In contrast, Epithalamion took only a few months to write, and has none of the terseness or minimalism of ‘Dog Burial.’ Instead it luxuriates in its richness of language. Writing it proved a major challenge. I was still frantically working on it in the car on the way to the wedding, and only completed it half an hour before the wedding reception at which I read it!”

Once a book is finished, the next step is to get it between two covers. But what caught Patrick’s interest in self-publishing?

“Getting a collection published by a ‘reputable’ publisher in Ireland is very difficult. And even if your work is accepted by one, the waiting time can be counted in years. An added complication for me is that my poetry is not mainstream and, I suspect, does not tick the necessary boxes to satisfy the status quo’s ideas of what constitutes acceptable poetry.
“Having acquired the skills necessary to do page layout through my years as a Desktop Publishing tutor for Clare VEC, I decided I would do just that. Some research on the web lead me to Lettertec’s website. I liked what I saw and made contact.”

We asked Patrick how he found the self-publishing process:

“The process of putting the book together was daunting, and proved to be a lot of work once I started,” Patrick says, “I used my web developer skills to help select from the 113 poems I have in an online database I set up for the purpose, and to put them in order. I adapted a jQuery re-order plugin which I attached to the database to help in getting them into the right order. This took about three weeks to do. I then used an open source Page layout program – Scribus – to put the collection together. This took about 2 months.
“The least daunting, most efficient part was the production of the finished book. All I had to do was deliver the pdfs to selfpublishbooks.ie and they did the rest. I was amazed to get delivery of the book a week ahead of schedule. That is great service!

“The finished product is excellent in every way. It is as I had imagined, only better. There is nothing to compare with the feeling of reading from your own book – it gives a feeling of confidence, of completion. It beats the hell out of reading from notebooks, loose sheets and the backs of envelopes!”

So what’s next for Patrick?

“As an active member of 3-Legged Stool Poets, I’m excited at our upcoming initiative to plunge into performance poetry for our Winter season which kicks off in October 2013.
“Besides promoting The Parting through readings and Social Media, and my website, my next project is to finish the long poem entitled ‘The Day the Revolution Came,’ which I’ve been working on for the last four years. Currently I’m about half-way through at 215 lines in 4 cantos. Once finished I will publish it as a standalone work, though the title may well change!”

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My Watchmaker’s Time by Joe Clarke

Watchmakers Time A5 CoverHR

Joe Clarke’s first novel, Mirrors Don’t Tell Lies, was almost 6 years in the making having undergone a series of rewrites in the process. His latest publication, My Watchmaker’s Time, followed along in a similar vein although taking a year or so less to complete. This week I had a quick chat with Joe about his new novel from Selfpublishbooks.ie.

“Once finished I had no real ambition to publish either works but subsequently gave in to family promptings,” Joe said, “I felt, at the time, that something as beautiful as the written word, especially in book form, was a fitting legacy and I am very proud of what I have achieved thus far.”

Following on and prior to his early retirement Joe also dabbled with poetry, writing scores of poems along the way.
“I love the simplicity of telling complexed stories in just a few rhyming verses,” Joe admits, “Occasionally I target the humour of topically funny stories via my email inbox or headline banners and make them real. I believe that poetry is as complicated or as simple as the writer cares to make it. I have written poems about life, death, love and hate with more than a sprinkling of adventure thrown in. When I eventually reach the milestone of having written 250 poems I will then seriously consider publishing them in their entirety. Prose versus Poetry is such a tight call for me simply because both play such a huge part in my life. I’d say the one starting with the letter ‘P’ wins hands down.”

 

What was it in this second novel that kept him engaged? “I really enjoyed writing My Watchmaker’s Time as it gave me the opportunity to think outside the box, steering away from the conventional,” he maintains, “The novel is made up of a series of short stories spanning centuries. It revolves around the life of Bryan Barnett, a pretty regular type of guy, who must seek his redemption through a series of tasks set up by a Higher Power. My favourite chapter tells the tale of Abe and Lucy, a pair of young ambitious hopefuls, during the great ‘Californian Gold Rush’ of 1849. Their original naivety in searching for gold saw them swiftly change direction when they accidentally struck rich. Setting up a series of hardware stores throughout the States brought more wealth than they at first had imagined. It’s a gripping story of rags to riches that more than just pulls at the heart strings. Really one to enjoy!”

 

How does My Watchmaker’s Time compare to Mirrors Don’t Tell Lies? Joe pauses on this. “To stand back and compare both books is very difficult to do, given their diversity. Aesthetically, both compare equally well although I will always have a special fondness for my first book, which is understandable, I suppose. I would like to once again thank Selfpublishbooks.ie for making my words come to life in the form of an exquisite book. Special thanks go to Shelley O’Reilly for the fantastic work done in producing such a stunning cover. Huge thanks also to my wife Terry for her support throughout. Without all of your help it would be but just a dream.”

 

So what’s next for Joe? “I am currently working on my third novel, The Case of the Missing Letter, a detective story with many twists and turns. It’s shaping very good at the moment but is still someway from completion. When inspiration isn’t there, you know, it just isn’t there and right now I am in that place, time for golf? I have no doubt that a few weeks away from the computer and on the golf course will do the trick, yet again. Funny old game this writing!”

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Mirrors Don’t Tell Lies

 

Mirrors Don't Tell Lies A5 Cover

Joe Clarke, golfer, traveller, fisher, has always had a healthy fascination with the written word. His first novel, Mirrors Don’t Tell Lies, has been reprinted this year by Selfpublishbooks.ie and we caught up with the author this week to chat about it.

 

Mirrors Don’t Tell Lies was my first novel,” Joe says, “It caught the bug from talking to another author friend in the States. I set about writing this book almost 5 years ago initially taking 5 months to complete. I have since rewritten it twice adding another 4 months on to this time-frame. With a love for detective movies, crime and the solving of same was always going to be the topic for my book. Pretty much with an open mind, no set agenda, I let my imagination run wild all the time developing the story and introducing characters as it went along. I have changed the original ending adding another chapter in the process.

 

“From my teenage years I had a love for writing although in those days I favoured lyric writing, hoping it would give me my big break but alas it didn’t happen. For a time I also contributed to the Drogheda United match day programme. In the subsequent years following on from my retirement I initially wrote poetry which I still very much love to do.

 

I asked Joe what his favourite part to write was. “Chapter 19,” he says, without a doubt, “when protagonist Tom Doyle who is a much accredited, well-respected retired Scotland Yard detective suddenly gives in to his softer side when he once again, after 5 years, meets up with his only daughter Susan and two grand children Elle and Toby who he knew nothing about.”

 

Sounds intriguing! Joe talked a little about what made him rewrite and reprint this book. “Since I finished the re-write of my first book my family have asked me to publish it but I always felt that the expense simply didn’t justify it. However, when I checked it out I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it wasn’t nearly as expensive as first thought. Having had no prior experience with publishing I adopted a very nervous and cautious approach. Daunting would probably describe the initial phase but with the help and assistance of Sharon, my fears were quickly allayed. As you can imagine it was a big learning curve for me but I must say that I found the whole process a pleasant experience.”

 

I asked Joe what the physical book was like: “The finished product was beyond my expectations and I am obviously most pleased with it.”

 

So what’s next for the mystery writer? “My next publication ‘My Watchmaker’s Time’ is already written and is currently being proofed. I expect to have the final file ready in three weeks and intend to then publish it through Selfpublishishbooks.ie. I then intend to write my third novel but haven’t yet decided on a plot. Watch this space!”

 

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Literary Mixtape: What’s Happening This Week

#10

What do we make of Marcel (Proust)?

#9

More children are using libraries

#8

Self-Publishing 2013 with Catherine Ryan Howard

#7

The Book Thief film adaptation

#6

Sylvia Plath: Reflections on her legacy

#5

The National Emerging Writer Programme

#4

A new look into Jane Austen

#3

On Richard III being found in a Leicester car park.

#2

How much should you budget to self-publish your book?

#1

Get a free copy of Poetry Magazine!

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Going to College as a Mature Student

Going to College as a Mature Student

This week, the team at Selfpublishbooks.ie caught up with Denis Staunton. I asked Denis about himself and what may have prompted him to write Going to College as a Mature Student.

“I am originally from Limerick, now living in Cork, married with four grown-up up children,” said Denis, “I have been involved in education at many different levels and in several different contexts for the past thirty-five years. I have worked in the non-formal education sector as a community youth worker, in the in-formal sector as an adult education co-ordinator and in the third-level sector as a lecturer, researcher and policy formation. I know the Irish education system from both the outside and the inside.

“When I left secondary school I knew what I did not want to do but not what I wanted to do. I did not want to work in an ok kind of job, with ok kind of money, in an ok type of office. I felt there was something better out there waiting for me through education. I discovered a ‘thing’ called Sociology and went to UCD as a mature student to study for a degree in Social Science. I loved the challenge of learning and became a lifelong learner.

“Professionally I have worked as a youth work in the inner city of Dublin; Community worker in Donegal with the Combat Poverty Programme; Training Officer with a Community Development Organisation in Cork and for the past twenty five years in University College Cork (UCC) teaching in the Department of Applied Social Studies, Assistant Director (Academic) in the Centre for Adult Continuing Education and Director of Access.

“I have always studied topics related to my work. For example, I completed my Masters in the area of Burnout and Stress among Youth and Community Workers and my PhD was entitled ‘Was it worth it?: The occupational benefits of getting a degree qualification as a Mature Student.’ ”

Where did he get the idea for this book?

“It arose out of the many interviews I carried out with mature students for my PhD Thesis. Reflecting back on their educational journey through college many mentioned the fact that so
much time and stress could have been avoided  (especially in the first year) if they had known more about the academic cultural expectations and the skills and strategies required to become a competent student.
It took me three years to complete. It was hard work but I adopted a simple strategy: no matter what, do an hour every day and write 200
words. It’s amazing how quickly the words add up and after a year a
‘shape’ begins to appear. Year one was given to reading, researching
and drafting (enjoyable part), Year two focused on structure, clarity
and purpose (the self-doubting part), Year three (the really hard
part) was entirely given to rewriting, rewriting and more rewriting.
Receiving written feedback from ‘critical colleagues and friends’ is
essential during the rewriting phase.”

I was curious to know if Denis always enjoyed education. “Yes, love libraries and books. Always reading – even if pottering
around the house or garden I listen to audio CD’s. This allows me
experiment with all sorts of reading material. If I really like one I
can always get copy of book to read at my leisure or study in detail.”

What books or authors inspired him?

“I am more inspired by ideas and certain organisations. However, since
education is my primary interest I have been influenced by
educationalist such as John Dewey, Paulo Freire, Pierre Boudieu,
Malcolm Knowles and Jack Mezirow to mention but a few. I admire the
work of organisation like UNESCO, Amnesty and One in Four.”

Surely there must have been something in particular about this project that attracted him.

“I most enjoyed researching and writing about working with your brain
(chapter 6). Learning how the adult brain works put me in touch with
new research from a number of scientific fields, such as neuroscience,
cognitive science and developmental psychology. Up to a few years ago,
the prevailing notion was that we were born with all of the brain
cells we were ever going to get, and they steadily eroded in a
depressing journey through adulthood and old age. It is now thought
that throughout life, the adult brain is losing connections at the
same time it is creating new connections in the region of the brain
involved in learning. This notion of creating new connections is
called ‘brain plasticity’, namely, the adult brain has the ability to
change its structure and function in response to experience. This is
really good news for adults who return to study as it shows that
intelligence is not fixed but changes as we learn. The popular phrase
‘use it or lose it’ certainly applies to the adult brain.”

What was it about self-publishing that caught his attention?

“The book I wanted to publish was in the middle between purely academic
focused work, on the one hand, and a non-fiction or fiction book for
the general reader on the other. My book was aimed at a particular
audience and even within the field of education mature students
represent a small percentage. Self-publishing, therefore, was an
obvious option, apart altogether from the financial costs involved in
producing a book as well as any financial rewards.

“I certainly did on-line research but in the end opted for a company
near where I live. From my previous experience of working with
publishers and printers being able to visit the site and get to know
the staff personally helps considerably. Lettertec in Cork ticked all
the boxes for me. I got very helpful advice, practical support and a
professional published finished product.

“It worked for me. I was able to get assistance in editing, graphic
design and production quality. This meant that I could bring a
finished product to the university and to work in partnership with
them in bring it to the target audience.”

What’s next for Dr Staunton?

“Right now I am taking time out to reflect and relax before I
decide my next project.”

And we can’t wait!

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Young At Heart

Phil with Minister Kathleen Lynch and Frank Kelly of Lettertec

Young at Heart – a Celebration of Ten Years is a compilation by Phil Goodman which chronicles the activities of a group of volunteers in the Douglas area who meet on a weekly basis and call themselves ‘Young at Heart’. The book was launched at St Columbas Hall, Douglas, Cork on November 26th by Kathleen Lynch, Minister with special responsibility for the elderly, pictured above with Frank Kelly of Selfpublishbooks.ie and Phil Goodman.

This group was formed by Phil ten years ago who saw the need to focus attention on the ageing members of the community in Douglas and has since evolved from the regular weekly social night in St. Columba’s Hall, to the formation of the Douglas Care Ring that has been set up to care for the needs of the elderly people living in the Douglas area.

The book charts the Young at Heart groups activities over the past ten years from visiting Áras an Uachtarán and Dáil Éireann to  Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament in London. It details the various weekly activities that the group enjoy such as Bowls, Bingo and visiting Douglas Community School to learn basic computer skills.  There is no end to what this group can do!

In her own words, Phil explains why the group was formed, “We all need meaningful interaction with other people.  There was a need for this age group to meet and socialise together to keep them young and active.  This was the genesis of the name Young at Heart.”

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Week Round-Up

A lot has been happening in the literary world this week, so here’s a Top 10 Hot Spot list of all the latest news & views.

cassettetape

# 10

Most overlooked books of 2012 – a literary mixtape 

# 9

Jamie Oliver and JK Rowling battle it out for Christmas top spot

# 8

Overwhelming response to Foyle’s revamp plans

# 7

The Casual Vacancy as BBC show 

# 6

Self-publishing case studies

# 5

Angela Carter named best writer of a century

# 4

What writers can learn from Literary Death Match

# 3

Mo Yan delivers Nobel Prize Speech (with some controversial notes on censorship)

# 2

NaNoWriMo churned out 3 billion words this year

# 1

Book-scanning robot coming to a library near you?

 

~Bonus~

Book Christmas Trees 

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