Are you balanced?

Ridley: I recently watched a TED talk by Nigel Marsh, author of ‘Fat, Fired and Forty’.

(Some of the TED videos are really fascinating, inspiring and just plan funny. If you ever have a few spare minutes, pop on over to TED and broaden your mind a little!)

This particular one by Nigel though, had the best quote I’ve come across in a while.

“There are thousands and thousands of people out there living lives of quiet, screaming desperation who work long, hard hours, at jobs they hate, to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.”

 

It just made me wonder, how many of these thousands of people would admit that this applies to them and if it did, have they done anything about it? I’m betting most haven’t but why not? I think I personally know of just one person who really likes what they’re doing. Are there other people out there who also give long quiet sighs, tune out their demanding bosses and gaze into the distance, imagining themselves doing something else? People seem to have just settled for what they’ve fallen into, done what was expected of them or simply don’t know what they’d actually be happy with. Even those who are in prestigious jobs like medicine, envied by people who dream of becoming doctors, hate it and would rather be doing something else.

It’s mind boggling really to think that the following scenario could be playing out somewhere in the world at this very minute but pick any two random jobs- there could be a doctor somewhere gazing over at a dancer wishing that he had chosen that route and a dancer looking right back wanting the medics life. 

Always remember, you’re currently living someone else’s dream.

 

As to a work life balance, who has really been able to achieve this properly? For me, last year I definitely would have said I was working all the time with very little ‘life’ entering into the equation-weekends, late nights, early mornings I was in work and I didn’t love it enough to be there all the time. More importantly, I wasn’t moving in the direction I wanted. This year, I’ll be doing things differently. Already I’ve put steps in place to ensure this wouldn’t happen again. At the start of the year, I changed jobs, decreased my hours and ensured the ones I do are more sociable. This has enabled me to focus more on what I actually want to achieve in life, which is write books, of course! Though my other love is art and animation, so I try to fit in a good bit of that into my spare time too!

I’m still working on the balance aspect and ultimately I’d love to keep my own hours, escape the 9-6 rat race, the long commute, to become my own boss and use my hard work to earn money for my family and not for a business belonging to someone else. With so many people unemployed, I know it’s probably a selfish desire, but then again it’s human nature to always want more…

I think everyone would like this though, to do what they love and be their own boss, am I wrong? Who out there wakes up on a Monday morning happy to go to work? And has anyone achieved an excellent work life balance? How? I’d love to hear!

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When did your love of books begin?

Ridley: I was feeling nostalgic this week. I was trying to think back on where my love of books began. I’ve always been encouraged to read. In my earliest memories, I was read to by my parents, a lot of it was Beatrix Potter (Peter Rabbit and Squirrel Nutkin) and Enid Blyton (Famous Five and The Secret Seven!)

Then after them I also had Teddy Ruxpin. 

He was my favourite toy. You slotted a tape into his back and you could read along with him. His little mouth and eyes would move as he spoke. For some reason, the story I remember most is the journey to the centre of the earth. I was enraptured as noises emerged from him as we ‘travelled’ downwards and we began our adventure. If I ever had children, I’d definitely buy one for them. I’d probably end up like the woman in this video (where supposedly they released Teddy R again in 2006? Hadn’t heard about that!)

I might mention here that some of my childhood was spent in America, so not a lot of my friends can relate to my Teddy Ruxpin experiences, never mind my Puffalump, Cabbage Patch kids, playdough (marla here, its harder to work with and the colours are darker) and books about Clifford the Big Red Dog. (Though I did love Bosco as much as every other Irish child did. Latimer can tell us about her early memories at some point, we can see how much we differ in our early years! We’ve had these conversations before, it always ends up descending into sweet discussions. Where I had buggals, twinkies and chewing gum with fake tattoos wrapped around them, she had penny sweets, macaroon bars, fruit salads, Kimberley and Mikado biscuits, Taytos-mind I ended up having all of these too-eventually!)

Anyway, slipping back on to this particular memory lane and away from the food one, I progressed onto reading books by Tom McCaughren such as ‘Run Swift Run Free’, ‘Run to Earth’, ‘Run with the Wind’. These were stories all about foxes and their lives in the woods (Hop-along and Old Sage Brush) One of the best Christmas presents I ever got as a child was an autographed book of ‘Run to the Wild Wood’. These books were a definite follow on from Beatrix Potter’s tales! And watching The Animals of Farthing Woods! They were all set in Ireland. I think I did start reading Irish authors after that, though not by any particular design or need to be patriotic. The primary school I attended was fantastic for bringing in authors to speak with us, who of course were Irish, there weren’t many writers from other countries touring around after all!

I got a few more books autographed after that, including Gordon Snell (Maeve Binchey’s husband) and  Marita Conlon McKenna  (Under the Hawthorn Tree-was her first book in a trilogy about the Great Irish famine and the survival of three children). I read her books when I was around 12 years old or so. They were great. I was lucky enough to meet Marita not long afterwards due to one of these school visits, I had a little stack of books for her to sign. She was absolutely lovely, even laughed when
she saw me coming. In the final autograph she has ‘Another bookworm, lots of luck!’ It was then my desire to become an author really crystallised, to have people read my work and love it like we loved her books. We’d always written short stories in English class and I’d started to write numerous ‘novels’ at home. I’d always enjoyed it.

This wish to become an author, to earn my living doing something I love, has been with me ever since.

There were numerous other fantastic authors that caught my interest as a young teen including Mark O’Sullivan (‘Melody for Nora’-about a girl living during the civil war in
Ireland), Siobhan Parkinson (‘Amelia’-also during the same time of civil unrest), Gerard Whelan (‘Out of Nowhere’-a boy wakes up with no memory in a monastery and all life outside its stone walls has disappeared) and Orla Melling (‘The Druid’s tune’-wouldn’t you want a gorgeous Celtic war chieftain falling in love with you? and ‘The Hunter’s Moon’-how about the High King of Fairie after you? Yes please!).

From then on, I was sucked into the massive world of Point fiction, Point horror, Point Romance for many a year. It was through Point that I discovered
Philip Pullman as well. I could go on and on about what else I’ve read or would like to but I’ve limited myself to just discussing my childhood, otherwise you might get bored (more so than you are already perhaps!).

 

 

These days, I have tried to honed my skills at finding the best fantasy stories with great plots interwoven with an exciting love story. It’s why I love the Young Adult genre, it often has this, along with there being numerous options within it and they’re imaginative!

 

 

So I just leave you with a question or two, when did your desire to become a writer spark? And what books do you remember as a child? 

(Instantly, does anyone else have this version of Twilight? I bought it long before Stephenie Meyer had written any sequels and I remember thinking if she wrote any more books they’d probably be quite good! This version was before the black covers! It’s kind of a strange picture really.)

Book review-Someone Else’s Fairytale by E.M.Tippett

Ridley: I seem to be on some sort of readathon. Not a deliberate one, these moods sometimes seize me. I’ll read nothing for ages and then snap up two or three books in one go.

One of these was E.M. Tippett’s, Someone Else’s Fairytale (love the title). She was kind enough to provide it free on Amazon on 1st March to celebrate being in the Kindle top 1000 books. Congratulations to her! I’d literally just visited her website and read an excerpt when she did, so it was happy timing for me. A much appreciated generous gesture on her part!

I’ve come away after reading this book with a smile and warm fuzzy feelings. Then I happened to watch the most recent Glee episode afterwards, which compounded the feeling -there were so many fuzzies I could’ve made a teddy bear!

It’s a really endearing love story, a fairy tale for the modern girl. Jason is an international movie star and all the fan girls are starry eyed for him (and squealing, giggling, crying) all except Chloe. She is completely unimpressed by him, his lifestyle and his strutting around.

This is what draws him to her.

Laid back and completely normal around him and his superstar status, it is Chloe who impresses everyone including his famous friends and his family. Not to mention quite a number of people have a wide protective streak when it comes to her due to something that happened in her past. This ‘something’ is slowly revealed to us throughout the story.

It is the love triangle however, that really grabs the attention. It isn’t only the handsome actor after Chloe’s heart; her alpha Texan best friend Matthew starts to see green, especially when Jason begins to woo her with extravagant romantic gestures.

We follow their struggles, the ups and downs, as well as a reappearance of Chloe’s dark past. It’s only when everything is almost too late, that Chloe realises what she feels and for who. The complications don’t end there, however, as insecurities begin to gnaw at our heroine.  

Towards the ending I had my breath held, hoping it was all going to turn out well for Chloe. Of course, I won’t tell you either way how it ends, but it’s a good writer who makes me try to stem the flow of oxygen to my brain!

So if you want a good book, with entertaining characters that suck you into their lives, grab this one!

The new world of self-publishing

Ridley: We’re only starting out on our self-publishing journey, so we certainly are nowhere near experts to be talking about it but I’m going to be doing it anyway! I’m not going to share invaluable information (and it’s not because I’m selfish, it’s because I don’t have any wisdom nuggets to share, yet! Maybe one day!). I want to write about my impressions, the view point of a beginner just starting out on this incredible journey. It’s like I’ve entered a new world. Even just peering out the window at this new place, never mind walking through the door out into it, has been absolutely fantastic.

     The people in the self-publishing community are extremely welcoming and encouraging. Or is it really the twitter and blogging communities combined? With each person at the varying stages of working on their own novels, you can find knowledge and support and great reads!

      I love that you can read an e-book, where if you love it enough, the minute you’re finished, you can pop online and let the author know. You can actually have a conversation with them. As a fan, it’s everything I would have ever dreamed of as a girl. As an author, it’s amazing instant feedback and gratification.

     Then there’s the wide range of ideas and stories that you can obtain through reading self-published works. No longer do you have to roam the bookstore and leave a little fed up having found nothing. (Though to be fair, even if I don’t find anything, I still love wandering round in the hush, inhaling that calming book smell.) It’s just sometimes it feels like there’s nothing available to read. It’s understandable that traditional publishers hedge their bets; they stick to formula and topics that have worked. It costs them too much to take too many chances. It just can get very ‘samey’ and boring.

    Not so with an e-book publisher. They don’t have the same risks. They don’t need to justify that, Such and Such by Jane Doe did well, mine is just like it. Now they can say, my book is like nothing else on the market and I think it’s a real winner. This creates a colourful and exciting pool of very imaginative and different books.

   Before I opened up my mind though, I’d always had that horrible stereotypical view that self-publishing was for people that had given up, failed to get anyone interested in their work and decided to do it on their own. No matter how good their book, the resources were never available to market it to anyone other than close friends and relatives. How many garages across the country are cluttered with boxes of glossy books filled with words no one has ever read?

   No longer is this the case.

   The power, the influence of the internet just continues to increase and it’s not a selfish medium. It lends this power to anyone who looks for it. Through it, we can reach almost every part of the world.

   Even if your book is about the eating practices of a specific worm from a never heard of forest on a distant remote island, someone somewhere will be interested in it. Even if it’s just one person, it’s one more than you could have touched with your writing before this. Better yet, you will have found a kindred spirit.

   Dreams are what get us all up in the morning. So many people gaze out their windows and fantasise. Maybe they envision becoming an international dancer, an actor, an animator, a trapeze artist, a fireman, a wealthy CEO.

  Now though, for those of us dreaming of becoming authors, we’re incredibly lucky. We’re in a new age where we can make it happen. We’ve been handed the tools to enable us to achieve our dreams.

  Not many can say that.

  So for anyone reading this, dream big and reach for the stars. They’re there for the taking all you have to do is believe it.

All photos in this post are from freedigitalphotos.net