Come Join Me Over Here!

Hi there!

I'm glad you've come to read my blog, but unfortunately I don't live here any more!

Feel free to trawl through my archives or look up my posts on Scoliosis which will always be at home here, but when you're ready please come and join me at my new home:

See you there!

Catherine Ann x

Saturday, 6 September 2014

The Last Post (Sort of): Lucky, Lucky, Lucky

I can't believe this is still going on. I remember nervously sitting in front of my computer in March 2013 and pressing the "publish" button, watching the views creep up painfully slowly as I sent links to my most trusted friends and they dutifully pressed "refresh" to boost my ego.

I still remember looking at my mum in amazement and crying: "Seventeen pageviews!"

Now, I've had over eighteen thousand pageviews. That number still doesn't quite make sense to me! Aside from that, I've been nominated for an award, appeared on local radio, been interviewed for television, published zines with my friend, written for other Irish websites... and generally had a ball.

In a turbulent (understatement of the century) year of great experiences and disasters, my blog has remained a constant in my life and, while at times hard work with a few frustrations (such as uploading pictures upside-down!), it's been a great way for me to escape a world of exams, study and stress, and just focus on writing for a while. As many of you know, I use a sort-of pseudonym for this blog, so it can be a welcome break to log onto that account on my computer and  just "be" Catherine Ann Minnock for a while.

A huge fear for me has been internet bullies and trolls, but so far I've had nothing but lovely comments. The only negative experiences have been spam messages trying to sell me pills that I as a female will never have a use for... By now, I'm getting a few emails each month from people with new opportunities or just lovely feedback about my blogposts. Whether it's scoliosis or the Leaving Cert, people have rewarded my personal commentary by opening up themselves and sharing with me. It's such a special thing.

Speaking of which, I think proof of how far I've come was when I was offered something which for a small-time blogger just screams success... FREEBIES! Yessss.... these came from a site called I was emailed the other week about it, and of course I didn't want to be one of those bloggers who just advertises everything, but this is genuinely a handy site. Many of my readers will be heading to university this year, and Viking sell some wonderful stationery and office supplies.: everything from notebooks and label-makers to tea and coffee!

There is the added bonus of being able to buy in bulk: a top tip I've read about heading to Uni is to club together with a few friends and buy your stationery in large packs online to avail of discounts. If you're travelling a long way like me, there's the added bonus of having your stuff delivered directly to your digs or halls!

But I digress. What I'm really saying in this post is a) thank you all for reading and supporting "Unlucky For Some" and b) goodbye.

Not goodbye from me, just goodbye for Unlucky For Some. I've decided to take everything I've learned in the last year and create a brand new blog,

It's the same Catherine Ann, the same opinion pieces and recipes, but with a more personal touch. You can click on the "Secret  Diary" tab to see what I've been up to on my new University adventure. I'm also endeavouring to make the site easier to navigate and nicer to look at too, by adding more pictures and even on occasion a YouTube video!

I'm so excited and can't wait to get stuck in to my new adventure, but it's with a heavy heart that I leave this blog, where it all began.

Of course, the site will still be here for you-and I-to trawl through the archives. I'll also be returning to add any more posts to the "Scoliosis Story", because I'd like them to  be in one place where they belong.

If you're feeling as emotional as I am about this ending (even if it is to make way for something better) then you'll be pleased to hear about the "shop" button I'll be adding to the new site in the next few weeks. This will enable you to purchase, for a limited time, a copy of "Unlucky For Some: The Zine", an edited, illustrated collection of my favourite blog posts. I'll also leave a link here when that's sorted out.

That's all for now. Thanks so much for making Unlucky For Some the luckiest place on the internet.

See you on the other side! (, site)

Catherine Ann xxx

Friday, 8 August 2014

I'm Back! Explanations and the Dublin Zine Fair!

Hi everyone!

Do you remember me? I'm that girl who used to post regularly and then disappeared for a while. Unfortunately I had to go into hospital for a few days for another small operation on my spine due to my scoliosis. I'm recovering well, thankfully, and I'll update you all about it on a future post. If you're new to the blog, you can read my scoliosis story here

Anyway, I'm still not up to writing a big long post but I thought I'd let you all know about the Dublin Zine Fair that's happening on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th August.

You can find all the details here on the website: 

...but I wanted to let you know about it because I'm going to be there! Myself and Wolf are working on a few different zines to sell, one of which is going to be an edited compilation of all my best posts from this blog!

We're going to be there on the Saturday, so if you're around in Dublin on that day we'd love for you to come and support us. Our zines will cost no more than €3 each and we've got some special offers and free gifts planned as well! You can look at all the other artists on the website.

I've attended the fair as a customer for the past two years and absolutely loved it. It's great to meet fellow writers and artists and pick up a few home-made zines!

By the way, in case I'm not making sense, a zine is like a little booklet which is handmade and self-published. It can be about anything. I bought one the other year that was a collection of short stories, and along with the compilation zine we're selling a picture book and a booklet all about happiness! There will be all sorts of things on offer, and last year there was a freebies table... so why not come along, have a browse, and come and meet myself and Wolf!

Do check out the website for details.

Thanks, and hope you're all well,

Catherine Ann x

Friday, 25 July 2014

Summer Watch and Read: Elizabeth is Missing

How do you solve a mystery when you can’t remember the clues?

A couple of years ago, Duchess mentioned to me that someone she knew was writing a novel—as she’d been asked to help with the research. We were all very excited about it but it sort of faded into the back of everyone’s minds until earlier this year when it was published… and it’s now set to be hugely successful!
That someone was Emma Healey, just 29, and that book is now the acclaimed Elizabeth is Missing.

“Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn’t remember to drink it. She goes to the shop and forgets why she went. Back home she finds the place horribly unrecognisable—just like she sometimes thinks her daughter Helen is a total stranger. But there’s one thing Maud is sure of: her friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so. And no matter who tells her to stop going on about it, to leave it alone, to shut up, Maud will get to the bottom of it. Because somewhere in Maud’s damaged mind lies the answer to an unsolved seventy-year-old mystery. One everyone has forgotten about. Everyone, except Maud…”

I had some reservations about reviewing this, since I will probably end up meeting the author at some point—it would be rather embarrassing if I had something bad to say about it!

I needn’t have worried.

The book was another one of my three day love affairs. It was thoroughly enjoyable and I can see myself dipping into it many more times throughout my life.

I received a signed copy from Tiger and Duchess for my birthday with a thoughtful message from Emma herself (thanks!).

“Elizabeth is Missing” is essentially two stories in one book. The main story follows Maud, an elderly woman with dementia. However, there is also a series of flashbacks to Maud’s childhood as she simultaneously tries to solve two mysteries: The disappearance of her friend Elizabeth in the present day, and the disappearance of her older sister Sukey seventy years before.

I felt that as a teenager, I would find Maud’s character hard to relate to, but it was actually fairly natural. The vivid description of both Maud’s feelings and the way she was treated was easy to empathise with. Think of all those times you were a child and nobody listened to you or took you seriously! And we’ve all experienced memory loss in one way or another. Now, where was I?

The story was so scattered, confused and repetitive that it really did put me in the shoes of this poor old woman. I became so involved with Maud’s thoughts that when she forgot something, I did too. A pretty spooky experience!

The story that takes place in the past was from the point of view of Maud as a young girl—completely compos mentis—and was of huge benefit to the book as it had a very clear plotline I could follow from beginning to end, rather than spending all my time trying to pick up and weave together the loose threads of the main plot.

For me, the characters are the most important part of a story, and in “Elizabeth is Missing” they were described so clearly and so well that I could see them in front of me. We’re all told to “show not tell” and this was clearly followed to a T. I fell in love with Maud right away and she was so endeared to me that I wanted to shout out on her behalf when she wasn’t being listened to, or put my arm around her and give her a squeeze when she was confused, lost and upset.

Such vivid characters made the story all the more real to me, and such sympathy urged me on toward the end.

It was fascinating to learn how the mind makes connections. Every time Maud goes to the shop, all she can remember to buy are tinned peaches, until her cupboards at home are completely full of them. We later learn that they link back to her past. In the same way, she focuses on tiny objects and collects seemingly nonsensical items that all have meaning to her life in some way. This made the book a learning curve about dementia for me… but again, we all have small items with huge significance in our lives.

At the end of the book (no spoilers!), I felt I had an idea of what might have happened to Elizabeth. This, far from making things predictable, actually added to the story as I could tell why Maud was so confused and why those around her were so frustrated. Being a few minutes ahead of her really emphasised the way her thoughts dragged through treacle, struggling to keep up with the present while stuck so firmly in the past.

This is such a new concept—to me, anyway—that I’m afraid I can’t really do the “If you like x, you’ll love this”, but to be honest I recommend it to everyone.

If you know someone who has suffered from dementia, you should read this book.

If you have parents and grandparents, you should read this book.

If you’ve ever lost someone, you should read this book.

If you ever feel lost, or frustrated, or like nobody is listening to you, you should read this book.

I really loved it, and I hope you do too.

(PS... I gather this one is being made into a TV series, too. Hurrah!)  

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Sidenote: I Understand!

A while ago I saw something on Twitter that made me kind of angry. I’m aware, by the way, that Twitter isn’t the place to be easily offended, and that’s not what this blog post it about!

It was a tweet that basically said if you had a problem with someone you should take it up with them directly. OK, fair enough. But it also said that anyone who doesn’t do this, who talks about it with someone else, is a bad person.


This made me angry because, while I know it’s not nice to talk behind someone’s back, sometimes it’s the only thing you can do. Those few words made me feel like I was being accused of doing the wrong thing simply because, when I got bullied at school, I took it up with one of the teachers rather than the person themselves, for example.  

It’s hard to stand up for yourself directly to the person you’re being hurt by. You can risk all these things I’ve experienced: being physically hurt, receiving threats of violence, making the situation even worse, or perhaps the person turning it all around on you, turning on the fake tears, and making it look like you’re in the wrong. There’s no guarantee that anyone will hear or believe your side.

I got the point of the tweet, and it was a good point. You should always stand up for yourself rather than going behind a person’s back.

But just because you should, doesn’t mean it’s easy. And if you don’t feel strong enough to do that yet, or if you’re scared, that does NOT make you a bad person. Sometimes it is necessary to explain the situation to a teacher, colleague, boss, friend, parent, sibling etc, because you simply can’t handle things on your own. This doesn’t mean you’re being “sneaky” or “back stabbing”, it just means that sometimes things get a little too much, and we can’t all solve problems on our own.

Now on to my apology. I realise I took the tweet too seriously, and that it mightn’t have been meant to hurt anyone, and that made me realise that perhaps my words on this blog have come out the wrong way sometimes.

I’ve written lots of posts about friendships and bullying in the past, and I’ve always advocated standing up for oneself. As I said in my article for,

Life begins to improve the day you decide that you no longer want to be bullied. Of course nobody enjoys getting picked on, but I speak from experience when I say that life changes dramatically the moment you stand up and say: “I will not be bullied anymore.” 

…and I stand by that, of course I do. But I want you all to know that I realise just how hard it can be! While I think you—we—should all be able to say exactly what we feel, I totally understand that it might be the scariest thing you’ve ever had to do.

So if you’re having a tough time, I do feel that you should pluck up the courage and tell the person who’s hurting you—but if that’s too hard, approach someone else and deal with the problem as a team. It’s not “b**ching” and it’s not weak. It’s called being human.

So if I’ve ever come across as thoughtless, or talked about speaking out as if it’s the easiest thing in the world, then I wholeheartedly apologise and I want you all to know…


You might not be ready to make that step yet, and that’s OK. I just hope that one day soon you will. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Food, Glorious Food... Blackcurrant Jam!

We've got an over-abundance of blackcurrants in the garden at the moment--they grow really easily in case anyone wants to give it a go!

The other day, the internet was out so I actually did productive things, one of which was harvesting about two baskets full  of these gorgeous berries and making jam!

Honestly, I didn't put much thought into this. I  just cleaned the berries and got rid of any stalks, dirt and leaves, and chucked them in a big pot with what appeared to be just over an equal quantity of sugar--I know that you have to have at least 50%, if not more, sugar, or it won't... well, jam.

So I mashed some of the blackcurrants up a little and brought the whole thing to the boil. Rather than turning the mix down to simmer as you normally would, you have to leave it bubbling away quite violently, like molten lava, for around fifteen minutes.

And it really is like lava--don't stick your finger or anything else into the pot!

At this point I decided to consult Delia Smith, just in case, and she assured me I was doing the right thing. On her advice, I coated a spoon in the hot jam and let it cool. It formed a firm skin when touched, which meant it was ready!

I sterilised a jar with some boiling water and poured in the warm jam. It was left to cool, before some greasoproof paper was placed on top and the lid was screwed on.

The jam had set within a couple of hours and, to my surprise and delight, it actually looked like jam!

...tasted like jam, too. 

I'm not really sure how long this will last as it's the first time I've made jam properly, and I don't think I sterilised the jar quite so scientifically... but I'm not too worried about that. The stuff is disappearing fairly quick!

Friday, 18 July 2014

ANOTHER Tag! Who Are You?

It’s another Tag! These are so much fun. I was tagged for this one by my friend Zoe at Zoe Figgle,Just A Girl. Her tag was a really interesting read so here’s my go at it! If you’re a fellow blogger and want in on the tags, leave one of us a comment.

1)      Where were you born?

Cambridge, England.

2)      Were you named after someone?

No, but my middle names are after my two grandmothers.

3)      If you have children, how many do you have?

I don’t, as I feel I’m too young. But I’d love to have children eventually—can’t imagine not, so I really hope things work out. I’d like to have as many as I can afford, and then I’ll probably end up with one more, because that’s just how things go…

4)      How many pets do you have?

I have a cat called Draco or Buster (that’s an ongoing argument between Ferret and I). Here’s a picture of him!

5)      Your worst injury?

I’ve not had many, thank Goodness. Most pain I’ve been in was due to spinal surgery but most pain inflicted by mistake was probably when I was a kid (I get to say that now!) and Ferret shut my hand in the bathroom door, didn’t believe me when I screamed at him, and proceeded to lock the door. Ouch.

It did teach me to think twice before trying to barge in on someone else’s bath. You live, you learn.

6)      Do you have a special talent?

I’d love to say writing?

Also I can make my tongue look like a flower. It’s really my only “party trick”.
I won’t post a picture as people tend to be 50/50 on the awesome/gross opinion.

7)      What’s your favourite thing to bake?

When I don’t feel like trying something new, I make lemon drizzle cake. I got the recipe from Tana Ramsay but have probably adapted it since.

8)      Favourite fast food?

I love SO MUCH FOOD but I had McDonald’s twisty fries today so I’ll say them. (Incidentally that occurred two hours after I had officially declared myself “on a diet”).

9)      What’s the first thing you notice about someone?

“Well, most lads would say eyes, but they’re lying. It’s your nunga-nungas.”

In all seriousness, I’m not really sure. I usually notice who the louder, more confident people are and who are the quieter ones, then go and talk to the quieter ones because I find them more interesting. You know, mysterious and what not. Something about still waters being covered in interesting pondweed.

10)   Favourite smells?

Well foody smells are lovely like vanilla, coffee and Christmassy spices like cinnamon or nutmeg. I also like smells that remind me of something like pine needles (Christmas again!) or my mum’s hand cream because it always reminds me of her.

11)   Why do you blog?

“For the lols.”
I really enjoy it, I love to write, and people are very very nice to me about it. Someday however I’d love to get more successful and make some squids, and say if I wrote a book it would be useful to sell that *jerks awake*.

12)   What song do you want played at your funeral?

I want a song everyone hates to be played at my funeral and I’ll tell you why. Every time I go to a funeral and a song is played, I associate the song with a sad memory and it always makes me cry. I don’t want to ruin everyone’s favourite song.

Failing that, I dunno, maybe “Burn Baby Burn” if I get cremated or something funny because I think it’s important to remember that even if someone dies and it’s sad, it’s still OK to laugh.

13)   What is your least favourite thing about yourself?

Can’t blooming stand me. Where do I start?
Kidding, I’m OK I guess. Probably that I waste a lot of energy trying to help those who don’t want to be helped. In that way and others, I don’t prioritise well.

14)   Any pet peeves?

I’ve thought of tons, so this could turn into a whole other blog post. But today’s winner, after a scroll through Facebook to get me nice and peeved off, is…

The Bathroom Selfie!

Seriously, girls? Your outfit is lovely, your makeup surely took a lot of time, so why would you ruin it with a sanitary towel bin in the background? Just no. I have never taken part in one and never wish to. I also think that it spoils the sanctity that is the ladies’ room. I think men would probably prefer not to know what goes on in there.

I’ve also heard people having a good time at a party or a club, and deciding to leave the party in order to take pictures in the bathroom.

Bathrooms smell. Stop it.

15)   What’s the last thing that made you laugh?

When Crow, who’s known me for over a year, asked if I watched the match last night.

Good one. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Busy Little Life: Life Update

Since I’ve been doing so many different things lately, I decided to give you two separate updates: one on writing, and one on life! You can check out the writing one here.

So I finished school at the end of May and did my last exam on the 12th June, which I’ve already mentioned. That same day, Ferret and his girlfriend came over for a visit. We did all the usual, touristy stuff, visiting places such as Kilbeggan Distillery in county Westmeath. I think she got the idea that all us Irish people are interested in is drinking…

What's everyone else having? 

...I know. Mad. 

In all seriousness, though, the distillery is a really interesting place to visit if you’re at all interested in local/national history, or free booze. Personally the whiskey wasn’t really my thing—nearly took the skin off my mouth—but there you go. They also sell a great selection of whiskey infused marmalades which were more my cup of tea.

Heather and Whiskey was my favourite!

Next up, my mum’s friend from college came for a visit—it’s so great that they keep in touch! She’s also Tiger’s godmother. More touristy-stuff happened, and then it was time for…

My birthday! That’s right: I’m officially an adult now. I can’t recommend the adult part, but the eighteenth birthday part was fab. I was determined to have a lovely party after last year’s fiasco, and so I decided on a barbecue on the day, and to go out with Wolf the following weekend.

It was absolutely brilliant. I was spoiled rotten and it made me feel so loved. I haven’t had the best year and the party reminded me that I’ve actually got some pretty cool people in my life! I got loads of lovely presents which I won’t list off, but I will mention that I got a signed copy of the popular new book “Elizabeth is Missing” by Emma Healey from Tiger and Duchess who know the author. I mention this because I’m going to review it soon as part of my “Summer Watch and Read”.

Another of my three-day love affairs

The following Saturday, I met with a few of my school friends for a meal at the best restaurant in town. We all ate ourselves silly, obviously, and had a great time catching up. It felt really odd sitting beside the people I sat beside at lunchtime every day in the canteen, but this time we were dressed up and eating dinner in a post restaurant. It was a little bit unnerving but again, it reminded me of the awesome people I know. These were the reasons why, when I would come into school feeling awful and wanting to cry, I’d have forgotten all about it by lunchtime. I love you guys! (Sorry, awkward, moving on…)

Afterward, Wolf and I went for cocktails to celebrate… well, the fact that I’m now allowed to drink cocktails. We went to a bar with a live band (i.e. every Irish bar) and tried a few different drinks. As much as I love being part of a large circle of friends, it’s so nice to get together and have a proper chat with her.

"She's such a Samantha."

So what else? I’m struggling to remember—it’s hard being interesting. I went to the cinema with Crow to see Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie, which I’m also going to review soon. I dragged him to it as revenge for Godzilla (which I actually enjoyed, but let’s not admit that), but to be honest, I didn’t think it was all it was cracked up to be. What did you guys think, if you’ve seen it?

Then it was off to Galway for two nights with my four oldest friends here in Ireland. I was the one who planned the trip—so it was all on me if things went belly-up, but thankfully we made it home in one piece, with smiles on our faces if a little worse for wear! I’ll tell you all about the trip in another post.
I went up to Dublin with my cousin for her birthday last week, and then she had a party the following weekend (our birthdays are a week apart, and were both on a weekday this year, so we postponed the partying till the weekends!) which was brilliant too, but very tiring after Galway.

Ready for the off! 

So for the last couple of days I’ve done nothing, which has made a hugely welcome change. However, being an adult now means I have to organise myself a bit more. I’ve had to send off Identification Forms to universities and student finance services both here and in the UK. It complicates things a fair bit when you are Irish by descent, but were born in England, but live in Ireland… all kinds of paperwork are highly suspicious of you, and there’s a lot of explaining to do. I don’t think being an adult is going to work out for me at all.

Fortunately, with all that’s going on, I simply haven’t had time to worry about my exam results.

One month to go!

Catherine Ann x

Oh! And I've joined Tumblr! So if you want to follow my posts or ask me a question, you can find me here:

Sunday, 13 July 2014

I Haven’t Forgotten You! Writers’ Tag.

Hello, hello, hello everyone! Just a quick note to say I haven’t forgotten you all. I’ve been really busy over the past couple of weeks and actually found it nice to take a break from writing. I’ll tell you all about what I’ve been up to in my next post, leaving you with just a few clues in the meantime…

(Pictures from my Instagram (catherineannmk))

…but for now, I’ve found a short tag to do while I gather my thoughts etc for a real, serious post.

Unfortunately, my blogger friends seem to be dropping like flies at the moment and I’m not sure if I have anyone left to tag! So if you’re reading this and you have a blog or a YouTube channel or something, I tag YOU! Let me know in the comments below if you do this tag so I can see your answers.
If you haven’t got your own home in cyberspace right now, why not answer the questions in my comments section?

Here we go!

1.      What do you write? (short stories, novels?)
I started off writing fiction which I still have a love for, but it fell by the wayside recently because I didn’t have the time or the confidence to carry on. I’m getting back into it though, and am so happy to be.  I suppose I always aim to write a “novel”, though I call them “stories” until they’re really and truly finished!
Right now my attention is focused more on the non-fiction side of things. You can read more in this post.

2. What do you mostly write about?

Fiction-wise (that seems to be what this tag is aimed at) I write about teenagers like myself, though at this point they’re all younger than me. That’s a really fun part of it since I get to laugh about it and say “I remember when I was that age…”
I’m fascinated by characters, personalities, and the various relationships between different people such as parents and children, brothers and sisters, best friends, enemies, and even crushes or boyfriends and girlfriends, though I get a kind of sickly feeling writing about that sort of thing sometimes! It’s just a little cringe-worthy for me to discuss.
As for non-fiction, that’s all aimed at and about teenagers too—it’s all I know!

3. What's your favorite thing about writing?

My favourite thing about fiction writing is that it’s complete escapism—if I’m having a rubbish day, or even if I’m bored, I get to hide away in this world I myself have created with characters who I suppose I almost love. It’s strange, but a nice relief sometimes.
Non-fiction and blogging wise, I just love the reception I receive from fellow writers and readers. When I make a new friend through writing or when someone tells me they like my writing, it means the world and makes me feel much more confident and happy in myself.

4. What/who inspired you to start writing/keep writing?
I’ve always loved making up stories and I suppose every book I’ve read has made me want to write. Authors I’ve admired, especially in my early years, such as JK Rowling, Jacqueline Wilson, Caroline Lawrence and many more have made me want to write a story that, someday, a girl just like me will enjoy.
I began to write fiction prolifically because I was lonely. When you don’t have very many good friends, making them up can be a nice compromise, I suppose! Again, it was the escapism really. So perhaps I would have stopped when I made more friends and became happier? Yes and no. I caught the bug, and lots of my friends, very special people, encouraged me to keep going. I do write less, fiction anyway, because I no longer feel the need to write. Now, I write because I want to.

5. Who's your favourite character that you made up?
That’s an awful thing to ask! It’s painfully difficult to choose and anyway, not many of you are acquainted with any of them!
I love all of my chraracters, when I don’t hate them, and they all have little pieces of me and of my loved ones in them.
However there is one character that comes to mind for whom I have a little soft spot. He is clumsy and awkward (a teenage boy, so that’s no surprise) and extremely clever. He always says the wrong thing at the wrong time and is a complete child, but of course he has the kindest heart. I think I made him up when I was about thirteen or fourteen. Then, some years later, I met someone wonderful with all of those traits and I guess now that’s why I have such a soft spot for that particular character!

6. When did you start writing?
Well, I suppose I’ve always written at school and done little stories at home etc, but I began to write stories “properly” when I was maybe twelve. It was a tremendously exciting time and I remember running to the laptop when I had a new idea, full of delight.
I began to blog about fifteen months ago and have never looked back. Right now I’m not sure what I like best!

7. First story you wrote?
The first real and proper story I ever started is one I’ve gone back to fairly recently. It’s so special to me that I don’t really like to talk about it! We’ll see how the brand new draft goes. My favourite character features in that one.
However the first story I ever actually finished properly was called “Flowers”. It was about a girl who moves house to the countryside (Yes, very familiar indeed), and is determined to keep her distance from everyone and be really cross and miserable all the time. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the ghost next door has other ideas.
It was nice remembering that! I think I’ll dig it out and cringe at it for a while. Lovely.

8. Favourite story you wrote?
Again, the first one, the one with the lovely character, the one I don’t talk about. I suppose I just care about it the most.
But I think the one I was proudest of was one I only got a few chapters into, about two people who find themselves in an empty world. I just feel that the style of writing was the best. It was the first time I really read something back to myself and thought: “I’m not half bad!”

9. Do you have a writing schedule? Like, do you write every day or just when you feel like it?
Never for times! I do plan out my blog posts and make sure I have some up fairly regularly so you don’t all get bored and flake out on me. I always have plenty of ideas for those so I have to jot them down and decide on an appropriate time and format. This is becoming even more necessary as I branch out into zines and other websites.

For fiction, I don’t have a schedule. I write that when I want/need to. It’s my relaxation time!

10. Do you want to be published?

That is the dream! Though it’s not the reason I write fiction, I’d love for a story to be shared with the world one day, for just one or two people to pick my book of a library shelf and find some tiny piece that they connect with. However, this will involve me having the confidence and the get up and go to actually finish a whole, proper, good book!
As for non-fiction? I’m working on it… (mysterious eyebrows).

Hope you enjoyed this Tag! I really like answering them. Let me know your writing story. Happy Summer! xxx

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Busy Little Life: Writing Update

Ugh. Ugh. So tired. Have been socialising way too much. Sometimes I like to just sit quietly and stare at a wall in order to rest after all the socialising. So many friends. It’s not easy, you know…
Anyway, I’m having a great summer! I was in a beastly mood for several months due to exams and other stresses—mainly the other—and now I can finally relax! So what have I been up to?

I’ll let you know writing-wise today and I’ll tell you about the rest of my life in another post because there’s an awful lot to say… you’ve been warned!

Well, I’m back blogging fairly prolifically as you can see. I absolutely love being able to devote more time to this site. Progress includes getting enough views to qualify for monetizing the site, even if only for a pittance, as I mentioned on my facebook page.

I’ve written up a few new recipes, one of which was a vegetarian quiche which uses Gortnamona Goat’s Cheese from Cooleeney Farm. They asked me if they could feature the recipe in their August newsletter, so obviously I said yes! I’ll let you all know when that comes out—albeit in a newsletter devoted to cheese, published is published!

I’m also working with Wolf on some zines, which is something we’ve been interested in for a while now and have finally got started. We’re really excited about it. Generally, I do the words and she does the pictures because she’s an incredibly talented artist. It’s so much fun to work with my best friend! So far we have plans for a zine about Scoliosis, informing sufferers and their families of what to expect and what their options are—I’m hoping to get an expert to check over this soon. There’s also a zine about happiness, and one including stories of various people. I’m also thinking of compiling some of my more popular blog posts into a zine, but can’t figure out if this is a lovely or lazy idea! Thoughts? Would love to know what your favourite posts have been in the past fifteen months!

These zines are all in the early development stages, so I’ll keep you informed about them!

I continue to work on my new website which I have so many ideas for. There are a lot of decisions to make as I want to go into it in a much more organised way than I did with Unlucky For Some. I can’t wait to show you guys the finished product and begin blogging in my new home!

I’ve written a follow-up article to the one I wrote for last year. It’s from a slightly different perspective and you’ll either be able to read it on their website or mine. Again, I’ll let you know.
I’m working on a top-secret project about the Leaving Cert too. I’m keeping it mostly to myself right now, but if you’re a past/present/future LC student, do get in touch so I can pick your brains!

I've also gone in for Blog Awards Ireland in the youth blog category. If you'd like to nominate me too, for that or any other category, just click the button in the top right of the screen. Fingers crossed for me! 

In addition, I’ve started fiction again and forgot how much I love it. I’ve missed all my imaginary people! I’m trying to work on one thing at a time right now, taking things very slowly and enjoying my favourite pastime immensely. 

I'll let you know what else I've been up to in my next post.

If you're a writer, is there anything you're working on right now? 

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Writing about Writing... Blogging Tips! (Part 2)

Here's part 2 of my lenghty list of advice about blogging. I hope you're finding it useful so far. Part one can be viewed here. 

·         VALUE YOUR READERS. Make them love you! Remind them how special they are, because I know that every time I gain a follower or get some views and comments, it makes what I do worthwhile. Tell them! Respond to as many comments as you can, and make sure to ask for opinions, too. Post something you think they will really enjoy if you can. Why not try running a competition to make them feel involved?

·         TRY NOT TO SWEAR! This is something I work hard at in any articles I write, and I’m trying to do it less in real life too! It’s not easy when you live in Ireland where swearing is second nature (a medical consultant once swore at me…) but that’s really no excuse! I just think it’s unattractive and unprofessional. Remember you’re not just talking to your best mates when you blog—you could be talking to a total stranger of any age or variety, and they might not appreciate too much of the F word. Or the S word. Or the C word. And so forth. (In this article, I changed another word to “peeved” just now…)

·         ACTUALLY WRITE THINGS. Nobody is going to read it if you don’t write it! Write prolifically and regularly, even if the posts are short and you’re not sure whether people will like them. The more you post, the more views and new readers you’ll get. Simples!

·         BE ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA. In the tab above you’ll see “Stalk Me On T’Internet!” Click on it, and there are all the places you can find me. I chose to make my own “writer’s profile”, keeping it separate from my “real” internet presence, which Is rather limited, and I’d suggest you do the same if you’re a bit shy or just don’t want strangers finding your personal info. Share your blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest… anything you can think of! Be present on all of these sites. Post funny updates and pretty pictures to keep people interested between blog posts.

·         DON’T BE SHY. I was terribly nervous about writing a blog, or sharing it with friends. But once I began, I got so much wonderful feedback from friends and others that I was absolutely overwhelmed. I’ve never looked back. If you’ve been putting it off or deliberating like I was, I suggest you just go for it! If you find it’s not for you, then you can always stop posting or even take it down. You never know until you try!

·         MODERATE THE COMMENTS. Change the setting on your blog to moderate comments. I think this is one of the reasons I haven’t had any nasty messages—anyone who comments on the blog knows that the comments are directly emailed to me for my approval before they are published. (Though perhaps people are just nice!) This also gets rid of spam, and means I am reminded to read and reply to everything right away.

·         BUILD SUSPENSE. If you’ve got an idea for a post that might take a while to put together, then you might write a short post on your blog, or social media update, about what’s “coming soon” on your blog. If people like the sound of it, they’ll come back!

·         SHORT AND SWEET. People are busy. A lot of the time, I’ll look for a blog post to read in my coffee break and, if I see it’s too long, I’ll read something else. Big huge blocks of text can really put someone off. Try not to ramble, and if you do feel the need for a longer post, split it into two parts over a few days (this means readers will come back for more!). That’s what I’ve done with this horrifically long novel of tips…

·         TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES. I’m what Irish natives might call “a divil for this”. I do not take nearly enough pictures to go with my posts, but I’m trying to fix that as they really do make the blog look more lively and attention-grabbing. I’m not a good photographer and my internet is so slow that it took hours to upload the multitude of snaps for my what’s in my bag post. But it really is worth the effort, so you should try your best to include one or two. I’ve recently joined Instagram, which is great because I can edit and post pictures directly from my phone, and then use them on the blog if I wish.

·         LINK TO PREVIOUS POSTS. Do you see what I did there, in the point above? If you’re writing a post and feel it’s relevant to something you did before, then insert a link for people to click on, in case they missed your previous post. It makes the blog easier to navigate and means people spend longer on your site!

I think that my best tip for blogging, however, is to totally ignore everything you’ve just read. Sure, you might find something helpful above, but if we all followed this advice there would be about a billion “Unlucky For Some”s on the internet, and not much of anything else. Your blog is yours, and nobody can tell you what to put on it. As long as it’s not offensive, pretty much anything goes. Be as creative as you like and, while you might take inspiration from elsewhere, never try to be the same as another writer. Your own voice is unique and it’s what people will love.

Have you got any blogging tips, or has this post inspired you to give blogging a go? Leave me a comment as I'd love to hear about it. 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Writing about Writing... Blogging Tips! (Part 1)

I still class myself as new to this whole blogging bandwagon, but I’ve been at it for about 15 months now! I’ve decided to give a little advice about blogging. Not necessarily tips for people to follow, but just a few guidelines I have for myself. You might find them useful, but you don’t have to pay them any attention if you’re thinking of starting a blog. This is pretty much “How to write this exact blog”. Nevertheless, here are a few things I like to stick to.

I realise I basically give the same tip in five different ways throughout this list… there’s some advice: don’t do that.

·         KEEP YOUR FONT CLEAR. Nothing annoys me more than trying to read a blog that’s got tiny, swirly writing or has funny colours like purple on pink, or blue on green. Reading something off a computer is not always a pleasurable experience, so you want to make your blog as easy to read as possible. Pick a normal font people are used to, like Times New Roman, Arial or Georgia (which I’m using). If you want to make it more creative, that’s great, but make sure it’s clear enough and big enough to read. Try asking your friends if they think your blog is clear enough.

·         NEVER WRITE WHEN EMOTIONAL. My rule is that when I’m angry or upset, I write fiction. I wait until I’m happy to work on blog posts. This usually ensures my posts have a nice tone to them and are a bit more coherent. If you do want to write something like a rant or just a normal post while you’re unhappy, my suggestion would be to write the post, but not post it straight away. Edit when you’re in a better mood.

·         DON’T WRITE ABOUT SOMETHING THAT’S JUST PEEVED YOU OFF. This is kind of similar, I suppose, regarding waiting ‘til your emotions have died down before you write about something. I sometimes write about problems like bullying, and my mum has warned me not to do this in too much detail: “In five years’ time, you might feel totally different about it.” You’re often better off to wait until you have some perspective on the matter.

·         PERSONAL, BUT NOT TOO PERSONAL… I decided right from the beginning that there were certain aspects of my life I was happy to share, and others I wanted to keep private. I’ve found a lot of my more “personal” posts, often just about my daily life, have proved very popular. Readers love the personal touch. That said, it’s important to have boundaries, too. Perhaps you might make a list of things you don’t want to mention, and stick to it!

·         KEEP IT POSITIVE… again, this is similar. I write my blog for you, the reader. It’s not your job to listen to all my moaning and complaining. When you blog, you’re selling yourself and your life to the reader to make them come back for more… so make it sound fun! Tell them all the exciting things that are going on in your life, everything you love, what makes you happy… leave the sob stories for your real life friends.

·         WRITE IN ADVANCE. You might become busy one week, or just not fancy writing a blog post. My suggestion would be either to have a few “backup” posts prepared which you can stick up, or stay a few posts ahead of yourself. I don’t know about other sites, but blogger allows you to schedule posts for whenever you want. Yesterday I didn’t go near my blog, but a post was scheduled to go up for you guys to read. Because I love you and never forget about you!

·         PROOFREAD THE BEJAYSUS OUT OF IT. Check all spellings, punctuation and grammar. I personally am rather picky about this, but even normal people will judge your blog just a little if it’s full of mistakes. It simply doesn’t look professional.

·         ASK A BETA READER TO HELP. Aside from spelling and grammar, you might often need someone else to check if your post reads well, so why not ask a friend? Sometimes when I give my opinion, I want to check that it doesn’t upset anyone, so I ask a friend to read it as if they were the most easily offended person on the planet, then only post it on their say-so.

·         DON’T BE TOO CONTROVERSIAL. This is a personal one for me, if you want you can be as controversial as you like! In my opinion, you can always tell when a blogger is just writing something to show off how “out there” or “unique” they can be. If you express an unpopular opinion, for example a hatred of a certain group of people, not only are you being incredibly rude, but you’re alienating a lot of your readership. I would hate for that to happen, or for anyone to get offended by something I’d written down, carelessly or on purpose.

·         READ OTHER BLOGS. I’ve actually found bloggers to be the nicest people around! You should follow and read a variety of blogs. Not only will you learn and develop your own style from reading ones you enjoy, you might also make a new friend. Leave comments on people’s blogs, and maybe put your URL at the bottom. They might give you a visit, and you never know… you could gain some new followers and friends!

I had so many ideas that I’ve decided to split this post into 2 parts. Part 2 will be up on Saturday…watch this space!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Happiness... It's OK to not be OK.

Just found this post saved in my archives. I wrote it when I wasn't OK, and I wasn't OK for quite a while. I'm feeling better now though, I hope you'll be pleased to know! I think perhaps I didn't post it because I have a rule not to write blog posts when I'm feeling too emotional, in case quality is compromised or it becomes too personal. But I think this one is alright, and I'm going to share it now for anyone who's feeling... not OK. 

Nobody likes a whiney so-and-so. It’s not fun to mope around all the time, is it? You don’t want to be that one person who always complains or gets upset.

But sometimes, just sometimes, that’s OK.

Remember that you’re not going to be happy all the time—and you don’t have to pretend to be either.

There are very few, if any, truly evil people in the world. But what people can be is careless, selfish, plain silly… that goes for all of us. This means there are plenty of occasions when humans make other humans feel like crap, and for whatever reason think it’s OK to do so.

What should we do when this happens? When a stranger is mean, it’s easy to just decide: Oh, I don’t like that person.

But when it’s someone you have to spend all your time with, it can be the scariest thing in the world to say, “I really don’t like the way you…”

And in an ideal world, you shouldn’t have to. In an ideal world, you and I should be able to tell when we’ve done or said something bad. When we’ve let someone down. When we’ve made someone unhappy.

And if we do, we apologise, and life goes on, and maybe it goes back to normal and maybe it doesn’t.

However, if someone thinks they’ve done the right thing, but someone else ends up getting hurt, it’s necessary to tell them that the way they’re acting isn’t OK. That we’re not OK.

It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to our enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to our friends.

Being part of a relationship which might be a little… unbalanced is a very tricky situation. When you feel like you’re giving and giving, and that person isn’t there for you, then it should be OK to let that person know.

Whether you tell them it’s not OK—and in this case, we need to tell people right away, not let things build up inside till we go mental (ahem)—or decide that you’d be better off with people who treat you right, you need to be proactive.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to hurt and hurt but pretend to be OK, because saying you’re not OK is too much effort.

But the bottom line is this: the world is full of people trying to be happy, and sometimes that means that the happiness of others suffers.

Don’t be the one who sacrifices someone else’s happiness, but don’t be the one who makes that sacrifice all the time either.

You have the right to spend time with whoever you want.

You have the right to get upset.

Just not forever. 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Summer Watch and Read: The Casual Vacancy Review

Last week, I read my first ever “new” book since the onslaught of the Leaving Cert. I’ve been so tired from studying in the past few months that I’ve only had the time to re-read, dipping back into old, comforting favourites.

I was so excited to sink my teeth into something new, so I got started with the Casual Vacancy, by JK Rowling.

I must admit it was a bit of a summer love affair: I took the book everywhere with me, I fell asleep next to it, I woke up in the morning and opened it up again. I read it in three days straight. It had me totally hooked and if that’s not the sign of a good book, then I don’t know what is.

Blurb: “When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. 
Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty fa├žade is a town at war. 
Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. 
And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? 
A big novel about a small town, 
The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.

In case you haven’t heard of it (where have you been? Even I’ve heard of it!), The Casual Vacancy is JK Rowling’s first book to be written outside of the Harry Potter Series and its additional books.
Not much was given away by the title, but basically the book delves into the lives of various people and families from a small English town where the Parish Council is God and gossip and secrets are traded like currency.

For me, living in the Irish countryside, this was all very familiar indeed.

Rather than focusing on one or two main characters, the book offers glimpses into the lives of about a dozen people, yet somehow we get to know them all thoroughly through the little snapshots Rowling offers. It’s really fascinating to see how various people’s lives can intertwine and effect one another—or not, as the case may be.

In this way, it was very reminiscent of the work of Maeve Binchy—if you enjoyed such novels of hers as Evening Class or Circle of Friends, then The Casual Vacancy is probably for you.

However, the sheer number of characters mane the story a little hard to follow: I found I had to keep flicking back and reminding myself that “he’s her son” and “they work together” and so forth, but the best thing to do was just to relax and get on with reading the story—everyone became familiar soon enough.

The book is certainly not a bundle of laughs, if that’s what you’re looking for! It begins and ends with death 
and in between deals with issues such as addiction, bullying and poverty to name but a few. It also presents a negative view of family life and marriage with couples constantly involved in power struggles, or one person finding their partner is no longer the person they married. While at times, it felt like the author was almost trying to be controversial or shocking, it also serves to make the story very realistic and eye opening—imperfections are dealt with in total honesty. No character is idealised or given the “Hollywood treatment”, which I find I appreciate a bit more in my old age (!).

I found the four main teenagers in the book to be a little predictable: they obsess over the opposite sex, hate their parents, hate themselves… they practise and enjoy all of the things an adult these days might presume teenagers do. That being said, Rowling’s perception of youth wasn’t far wrong. Teenagers can be fairly predictable.

I think the thing that fascinated me the most, and probably the most uplifting feature of the story, was the huge effect Barry Fairbrother has (or had) on the lives of the people of Pagford. He is just a drop in the ocean, as it were, and the alarming ripple effect he has caused within the community is sadly only noticed after his death. We only meet him when he dies, but he seems to have been an extraordinary person and who has had a huge impact on the teenagers and adults we meet–often positive, occasionally negative.
That said, he is the exact opposite of this: he is totally ordinary. It really brings home the message that we don’t appreciate how important each and every seemingly insignificant person is in this world, often until it’s too late. I think we should all try to be a Barry Fairbrother, is that’s possible!

Overall, I’m not bursting to read this book again right away, but I’m not one to pretend a book isn’t amazing when it clearly is. I was addicted to this book and the story is really well written. All elements are tied together nicely, the plot is tight and the writing style is, as was expected, second to none. JK Rowling certainly hasn’t disappointed, nor would I have expected her to.

I was delighted to find that The Casual Vacancy is being made into a TV series in the next year or so! I think it’s a brilliant idea as I’d love to see all the characters brought to life onscreen, but feel that the story wouldn’t have held its own as a film. It appears that Sir Michael Gambon is to play the character of Howard Mollison—I can’t imagine him as such an unpleasant person (spoiler alert, we hate Howard!) and it seems like a desperate attempt to cling on to something Harry Potter, but of course the man is a great actor, a total chameleon, and will bring all his skill and charisma to the production.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this review. It’s the first I’ve ever written for the blog, and it’s been great fun. Let me know if you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on books, TV shows, films or even products!

Catherine Ann x