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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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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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The International Charity Bazaar Cookbook

The International Charity Bazaar was founded in 2006 by the wife of the then Pakistani Ambassador to Ireland in order to raise money to provide relief to the victims of the devastating earthquake in Pakistan. Since then, the Bazaar has evolved and is now a firm future on the social calendar in Dublin. It had long been the wish of the organising committee to publish a cookbook of international recipes in order to raise funds.

This week I caught up with the woman who led the project, Siobhan Denham. I asked her where the whole idea started.

“As I had been involved in 2 similar projects previously in San Francisco and Lithuania — my husband is an Irish diplomat — I volunteered to lead the project,” Siobhan says. “I became involved in the Bazaar in 2011 following my return to Ireland.  We started contacting all the resident embassies in Dublin during the summer asking them to submit recipes for the book. We were delighted with the response, with almost 50 embassies contributing over 150 recipes.”

The Embassies are assisted in their volunteer efforts by a group of Irish ladies known as the Irish friends. “The Bazaar patron is Norma Smurfit – well-known for her fundraising efforts,” adds Siobhan. “I submitted what I consider very traditional Irish recipes and which I have served with great pride when I have lived abroad.  The recipes are Colcannon, Irish Stew, Guinness Chocolate cake and Irish coffee as well of course as delicious recipe for Brown Soda Bread.”

What caught your interest in the project? Have you always loved cooking? “I love simple food made from really fresh ingredients.  We are so lucky to live on an island and to have access to fresh fish.  I love to cook all kinds of fish with baked in the oven or pan fried and served with fresh vegetables.”

Why self-publishing? Siobhan says it was a straightforward decision: “We were very anxious to have a print copy of the book – the first idea was to produce a CD, but as someone who loves to cook myself, I felt that people want to have something to flick through. Thanks to Google, Lettertec popped up in my search. I was impressed by Frank’s immediate response and enthusiasm for the project and the fact that he had so much experience of producing charity cookbooks, so really after that I didn’t shop around. My first impression was a lasting one!”

All the funds for the cookbook, raised both last year and this, go to Irish charities.  For more information on the Bazaar’s history and mission, see their website www.internationalbazaar.ie

You can also find them on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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The Emancipist by Veronica Sweeney


(This article is also featured on Writing.ie)

Veronica Sweeney has been a published novelist for twenty-eight years. She wrote her trilogy, The Emancipist, after nine and a half years of research. It was first published in one volume by Pan MacMillan in 1985 and reprinted consistently for twenty years by publishing houses such as Century Hutchinson, Simon & Schuster, Avon Books, Bantam and HarperCollins. It is now being printed by Selfpublishbooks.ie as a trilogy.

“I was surprised that the publishers didn’t want a trilogy,” she says, “It was published as one book, which I had to cut in order to make the single large volume … much was left out, and I was very happy to discover Kindle, so the eBook contains material left out of the original.”

 

I ask Veronica which books or authors inspire her. “I like the works of Ruth Rendell and PD James – they produce great stories with fine writing. I love Terry Pratchett, clever writing with a heart. Other than these I read everything from Jane Austen to Eric Fleming. No Fifty Shades fan here, then? “Not much into modern romances,” she replies, “too predictable!”

 

Veronica expands her answer, revealing a characteristic charm of her work: “Publishers have always complained that my work is ‘quirky’, and I like books that are slightly different and have the author’s own voice without being too formulaic. I love it when I want to read a sentence twice because it’s so clever or insightful. I like having to admit, ‘Jeez, I wish I’d written that!’”

 

As for inspiration, Veronica names only one thing: “My mother read to me all through my childhood – following the words on the page meant that I could read at the age of three. She also read me poetry – there were loads of books of poetry in the house. So I think I grew up with the cadence of words, and their power. She bought me a book on stories from Shakespeare, which inspired me to read the originals. I read all the plays of Shakespeare at thirteen and I think … that this was a pivotal time for me, the inspiration of a rattling good yarn beautifully written. Something to aspire to, but unattainable of course!”

 

Veronica is an established novelist with an international reputation, but when she recently made the switch from traditional publishing to self-publishing, she knew she was taking a risk. “But I needn’t have worried,” she said, “It’s been fun … and – I can’t stress this enough – to be able to choose my own covers and design after twenty-eight years as a professional novelist has been the best part.” Lettertec, the printing press in County Cork with a self-publishing imprint Selfpublishbooks.ie, is producing The Emancipist in three separate volumes this year.

 

I ask Veronica how self-publishing caught her eye: “Amazon Kindle first of all – it’s levelled the playing field for writers at last. We’re back to the early days of the printing press, like Erasmus! Get a good idea and take it to the printer – before publishers and agents became involved!

 

“The whole process was very speedy,” she adds, “I think it took about two weeks, and that was mostly me being very fussy about the cover.

 

Any other reason? “Despite the advent of reading devices such as Kindle and Nook, so many people really like the physical feel of a book, and The Emancipist was the obvious choice, as it’s my favourite of all my work, the one people are always asking me about – and complaining because it’s the size of a house brick! The new version from Lettertec, being in three volumes, solves that!”

 

I also asked Veronica if she had any advice for writers thinking of self-publishing. “Anyone going the way of self-publishing for the first time really should pay the bit extra to have their book checked by a professional editor … The way I work is to finish the seventh, eighth, ninth draft, then put it in a drawer for several months and then come back to it. Self-publishing is no place for wishful thinking … the writing has to be tight and professional, or no one will buy your book but your family.”

 

How was the printed product? “Far better quality than any book I’ve had published. Some paperbacks seem to be printed on newspaper. This version of The Emancipist is a real collector’s copy, limited edition. The first run of Pan MacMillan’s was 100,000 copies! But I’m very proud of my limited run Emancipist – it’s the book I always wanted to see.”

 

Every author has her favourite. Veronica happily imparted hers: “Shannonbrook [Book Three of The Emancipist] … by then Aidan is in middle-age, and very much a product of all that has happened to him. He’s successful, but still believes he can control his environment. … When I did the book tour of Australia, half the women I spoke to said he was a thorough rat and a rogue, and the other half said he was so real that he must exist!”

 

She gleefully adds: “It was fun to create his children, who give him a great shock in refusing to be what he expects.”

 

What’s next, Veronica? “Editing – again – Books Two and Three before sending them to Lettertec, and after that I’ll be uploading my Australian thriller, Dark Obsession – though the title will now be His Dark Obsession – to Amazon Kindle. But there’ll be more books printed by Lettertec, deciding on which ones depends on which ones my readers ask for!”

 

Book One of The Emancipist – titled The Big House – is available now. Books Two and Three will be available in early December, ready for Christmas.

 

To find out more about Veronica and The Emancipist, check out her website veronicasweeney.net

 

 

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Teresa Collins’ Reiki at Hand

What is Reiki? Selfpublishbooks.ie author, Teresa Collins, has written the book on it. Reiki is a spiritual practice developed by Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui, which has since been adapted by various teachers of varying traditions. It uses a technique commonly called ‘palm healing’ or ‘hands-on healing’ as a form of complementary therapy. Through the use of this technique, practitioners believe that they are transferring universal energy (i.e. reiki) in the form of qi (Japanese: ki) through the palms, which allows for self-healing and a state of equilibrium.

Teresa Collins grew up on a farm outside Cork City in Ireland. From a very young age, she identified the sacred in nature. She qualified as a physiotherapist in Trinity College and went to live in Canada for twelve years. There she met many  spiritual mentors and pursued all things spiritual and mystical.

She returned to Ireland in 1993 bringing a cornucopia of experience and knowledge with her. She taught Reiki and wrote the first Irish published book on Reiki. She returned to the land once again giving tours to Sacred Sites in Ireland and reconnecting with the Celtic Spirituality she grew up with. Presently she gives workshops on Reiki, Angels, Empowerment and Inner Peace. She also gives individual sessions on these areas as well as reading Tarot and in  mediumship.

Reiki at Hand, her guide to the practice, is a very practical handbook  for students and teachers of Reiki. Teresa taught Reiki for twenty years and wrote this book based on questions asked during the workshops.  It is user friendly as you can find the answers to any questions you have. It has great illustrations  to accompany the text. She is a qualified physiotherapist and Reiki at Hand emphasises through out the safe use of Reiki for both practitioner and client. This book is a must for all Reiki practitioners.

Her latest book, Secrets of an Irish Mystic, explores her own mystical experiences while encouraging the reader to identify similiar  experiences in their own lives. She strongly feels that each person is a mystic but because it is not talked about it goes unnoticed. She hopes in this book to language mysticism through her own personal experiences.

If you want to learn more about Reiki or order a copy of the book yourself, contact the author on her website, her phone (00353-86-8102338) or email tercol@eircom.net

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