Colour versus black and white

I found a couple of broken, half-dead tulips in my garden the other day. Instead of throwing them on the compost heap, I decided to try to revive them and put them into a vase of water. To my delight, after a couple of days they did recover a bit.

flowers in vase

As they started to decay, I realised the flowers became more beautiful as their petals dried up. I took some photos of them with my husband’s stained glass window as a backdrop. I thought that the colours in his glass complimented those of the flowers.

dead tulip  dead tulip 2

I was delighted with the results, then the experimental in me took over and I turned them into black and white.

dead tulip B&Wdead tulip 2 B&W

Now I’m not sure which I like best.

Do you  think the colour photos are better than the black and white pictures?

What is your book about?

During National Book Week in the UK, I visited a school to give a talk and a teenager asked me, “What is your book about?”

Well, I opened my mouth and nothing came out.

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Mental images flashed through my brain, but no words.

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I stammered a bit and after a few seconds that felt like hours I managed to blurt out a rough synopsis of m YA dystopian/sci-fi book series, The Song of Forgetfulness. ‘Echoes from the Lost ones and the second book, A Silence Heard, is about a future world where mankind’s numbers have dwindled due to climate change, famine and plague.

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Animals are all but extinct and those that are left in NotsoGreatBritAlbion, are divided into forests dwellers and ultra hygienic City dwellers. Then there is the enemy – Agros who control the supply of food to the inhabitants. When they stop doing this and start raiding settlements to kidnap special children known as Meeks, hunger and fear prevail. The heroine, Adara, has a unique talent that she can use to call the only edible creatures left, the birds, to land. When her brother is abducted, she must leave the comforts of her hygiene home and go to look for him.’ Finishing with, ‘So, it’s a coming of age tale with a difference.’

venom silence amazon

Needless to say, I was mortified by my response. All I did was tell them the plotline, not the content, the meaning. I began an internal dialogue as I plodded back to my car, stomach churning and armpits sweating. Well, this what I think my book is about. Overcoming hardship in the face of disaster. Finding friendship amongst so-called enemies. Discovering true potential and understanding who you are in the grand scheme of things. Knowing what strengths and weakens you have when faced with life threatening situations. Becoming the person you want to be rather than the person others think you are.

IMG_3400 (1)I drove away and thought, why did I find it so hard to answer such a simple question? Then I asked myself, is it a simple question? As the author I know the plot of my story and the characters, and what happens to them, but having read the many reviews, and how readers have interpreted my tale, I realised that there is nothing simple about the message I’m sending to potential readers. I have included issues concerning mankind’s future, how technical advances can help and hinder, how power corrupts and, that I’m not the only person qualified to say what my book is about.

I will now list a few snippets from reviews:

‘A story of trust and faith “Echoes from the Lost Ones” is an adventure that takes you to a time and place like no other.’

‘A haunting tale of survival and determination.’

‘I enjoyed how McDonagh has broken down and restructured the system of spoken language to illuminate thousands of years of evolutionary changes while still being able to communicate the basic elements of humanity – civility and good-will.’

‘A world in which morals do not exist and yet somehow this little band manage to maintain a sense of compassion and humanity. It is a fight for survival against a cruel and destructive enemy who tries to obliterate any good left on the earth.’

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Some readers saw things in my narrative that I did not. How fabulous is that? I have decided that the next time someone asks me, ‘What is your book about?” I’m going to ask them to read my novel and get back to me with the answer.

So, if you’re interested in letting me know what my book is about, you can purchase them on Amazon. Oh, and you can look at a couple of trailers too:

Book trailer 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJ-AmBW-QjQ

Book trailer 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQ8o_mBopYM

http://www.amazon.com/Echoes-Lost-Ones-Song-Forgetfulness-ebook/dp/B00CXSZIGS/ref=sr_1_1_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1408436005&sr=1-1&keywords=echoes+from+the+lost+ones

http://www.amazon.com/Silence-Heard-Song-Forgetfulness-Book-ebook/dp/B00JMPWRX2/ref=pd_sim_b_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=16567ZZQKBJ2G2VWY2J8

 

 

Haikus for Boris the Feral Cat – in honour of National Black Cat Day

boris up closishSince it is National Black Cat Day, I thought that I would re-blog this post relating the story of a plucky feral cat we named Boris. He has overcome so much and is now a loving and talkative feline that loves to play and be cuddled.

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About a year ago a black feral tomcat came into our garden and decided to stay. He would come and go and catch the rats that plagued us. So, to thank him we began to give him some food. Winter came along and he shivered in the cold. We built him a kennel and he kept as warm as he could. Gradually over the months he became quite friendly and allowed us to pet him. One day he didn’t turn up. Not that unusual, especially in the warmer months, he would go off for a few days at a time, return famished and sleep for a while before going away again. This time he was missing for a week. Then we saw him squatting by the place we fed him. He stood and limped over to us. He had been in a terrible accident. His back legs were badly injured, one was very swollen and his tail had been stripped of all its fur.


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He was thin and clearly in a lot of pain. We nursed him as best we could and gradually he recovered. During the course of his recovery, he became the most loving and affectionate cat I have ever known. Now, Boris, as we called him, is our shadow and follows us everywhere when we go outside. He is so adorable and very talkative. He loves to be cuddled and plays with various toys our other cats have long forgotten about. He will never be able to join us indoors, because we have several other felines that would object strongly, but he is welcome to be our outside cat and we will continue to make sure he is warm and well fed. To celebrate his return to health, I decided to do some slow synch flash photographs of Boris at play, and write some Haikus to go along with the pictures. I have fiddled with the photographs to try and make them look more like paintings or pastel art works.

So, here’s to Boris. One hell of a cat!! Boris blue

From out of the blue

Whiskers and claws, swipe at the

Mouse unused to play

Boris jumping

Feral leaves, feral

Cat, both fall and tumble in

Autumn’s blustering

Boris eyes Beyond the greyness

Red. A slash of hue amidst

The colourless day

Boris wooly bully

They become circle

For one brief moment and then

Split like a seedpod

Boris times two

He wanders solo

Shrugging off the shoulder ghost

His Doppelganger

Boris most of him

Half in the picture

Long white nails scratch at the air

Summer leaves behind  

Happy National Black Cat Day to Boris and all the other black cats in the world!!

boris handsome   boris narrow eyes  Boris beautiful

Nettle Soup and Bugs

I was picking nettles this morning to make some soup – it will be the last time this year as they are going to seed and dying off – when I spotted a rather lovely bug. Well, I had to take a picture of it, and then I saw a few more interesting things to photograph – so I did.

 

purple bug

 

buggle

 

 

spiral flower

 

white flower and bee

 

You can see more of my photographs and stuff on my new website: http://www.nicolamcdonagh.com/

Signed Paperback Book on Offer

      The official launch of my brand new website is today – Wednesday – 20th August. 

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There is information about my YA Dystopian novel series, The Song of Forgetfulness, my short story collection, Glimmer and other stories, my experimental photography, and so much more!!

echoes cover for email     SilenceHeard_CVR_LRG      Glimmer

 

To celebrate I am giving away a signed copy of one of my books, to be chosen by the winner. Just go to the site, answer the simple question and email it to me. All details are on the site. The competition will be open until Friday 22nd August, so there will be plenty of time to enter.   So keep an eye on it!

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http://www.nicolamcdonagh.com/

After The Storm

In the early hours of the morning the clouds danced in heavy boots. They crashed and clicked their metal toe caps together and created sparks that ripped into the steel grey sky. The trampling of rain on the windows soothed their vicious argument. Until another cloud got angry. They argued on kicking and clattering, until the sun came out and shut them up. After a brief silence, the birds sang and the insects went about their business. In the calm all things look beautiful – even the dead have a grace and dignity.

 

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Versatile Blogger Award

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I am very honoured to be nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award.

Many thanks to Karen Einsel for nominating me.

You can check out her wonderful post here: http://karensdifferentcorners.wordpress.com/

So, here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award – kindly given to me by Karen:

Thank the person who nominated you. In my case it was Karen.

Include a link to their blog, as I have done above.

Nominate 15 bloggers you think deserve the title Versatile Blogger. Mine are at the end of this post.

Tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself. And that’s it!!

Okay then – 7 things about me:

I do not enjoy talking about myself. I never know what to say and often come across as very silly indeed. I suppose being an actor for so many years was a wonderful way of hiding behind a character, but now that I am an author, I get asked all sorts of questions about ‘who I am’. Maybe I just don’t know.

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I experiment with the visual image and the written word. I love to take photographs of insects, especially in close up and macro. I like the patterns and textures of insects they are so varied and colourful. I find beauty in spiders and beetles and things that make most people go Yeuk!

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I am very disorganised. I have papers strewn all over my desk and floor in my room. Despite having shelves put up by my husband to store my files and folders, I still throw stuff around. Important things I do try to keep in order.

 

I use food to make poetry. I make soup out of nettles. It is really quite delicious. Nettles are full of good things, such as iron and potassium and other minerals. When asked what it tastes like, I can only say, “Green.”

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I like to stand outside and look at the sky. I especially enjoy watching thunderstorms. Where I live in the countryside, we have terrific storms with lots of thrilling lightening and booming thunder.

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I have lots of pyjamas. I get at least two pairs every Christmas. I wear them after I have a bath in the evening and would wear them outside; only I think people would take exception to my dress sense – or lack of it. Especially since I work in schools a lot.

 

I am always rescuing animals. Mice, voles, rats, birds, snakes, insects, and of course cats. I have lots of felines and can’t imagine my life without a cat or six.

kimi

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And here is my list of bloggers:

http://themirrorobscura.wordpress.com/

http://janedougherty.wordpress.com/

http://sfoxwriting.com/

http://russelrayphotos2.com/

http://jwpatten.wordpress.com/

http://jenningswright.wordpress.com/

http://donschlising.com/

http://photonatureblog.com/author/photonatureblog/

http://ryan.boren.me/author/ryan/

http://steviet3.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/my-fifth-novel-no-sex-please-im-menopausal-is-publi

http://terraverum.wordpress.com/

http://theopeningsentence.wordpress.com/

http://aewallaceblog.wordpress.com/

http://guyaldous.wordpress.com/about/

http://deidraalexander.com/

Working on a new book – Marauders of the Missing Mummies

I have been toying with writing this book about ancient Egyptian myths and religion, for years. It started life as a play written specifically for children to perform. And indeed quite a few 8-12 year olds have acted out this play and sang the song – oh yes, there is a song!  I quite liked Marauders of the Missing Mummies and the evil Erica Van Clutch.

So, last year I decided to turn my stage story into a novel. 2012-09-18 at 10-05-17 The problem is that I know what’s going to happen. For some reason this has made my progress writing it as prose very slow. Sometimes I just stare at the dialogue and can’t move on. I find it difficult to write the story because I know too much.

So, I have put the play version away, kept most of the characters and started to write it from scratch. It’s still a little slow, but now I am free to go on the journey with my characters and not really know where we are going or how we will get there. It’s far more exciting this way.

I have posted the first 400 words or so as a taster. If anyone would like to comment, I would appreciate it very much.

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Chapter 1: We Are Not Alone

Darkness pushed against Cleo’s arms and legs as she struggled to make her way through the narrow chamber. Hands outstretched before her, Cleo Dalby slid her feet forward as if she were skiing. She strained to hear something, anything, but every sound, even the skid-slap of her sandals on the stone floor, became lost in the gloom. On Cleo walked slow and tentative. Deeper into the world of corpses.

A sigh, long and weary-filled drifted towards her. A sound so sad that Cleo had to cover her ears with her hands. But it was no use. The moans became louder. A musty scent of decomposing wood made breathing difficult. Cleo inhaled deeply and heard low whispers float around her. Cleo stopped and took her hands away from her ears. Intrigued by the muffled chatter, she held her breath and listened. Different voices swirled inside her head and scuttled around her brain like trapped mice looking for a way out. Cleo let them speak.

“We, the dead, abide here. Quietly resting, hands on chest, faces tilted up to catch a ray of sunlight.”

“A futile gesture. For this far below the ground, there is only blackness and the weight of stone.”

“We, the dead, lie still, poised in readiness for our resurrection.”

“ Ah, what a wait we’ve had; so many years spent lying in a state of half remembered promises and expectations, grown dull with the passing of each century.”

“We, the dead, no longer know who we are. Memories of our past life have faded and melted into our hollow skulls.”

“We, the dead, sometimes whisper to each other.”

“ Messages from dried up lips that linger against the cold walls in trembling anticipation.”

Cleo touched the limestone with her fingertips, and thought she heard a murmuring of souls.

“We, the dead, can feel a presence.”

A breath of ancient brushed past Cleo’s cheek. She shivered and rubbed her naked arms. The chill stuck to her legs and spread upwards leaving pimples of stiff-hair unease on her sunburnt flesh. She gulped and said into the blackness, “Hello? Is anyone there? My name is Cleo.”

“Found out!”

“Not Yet.”

“No.”

The voices ceased.

Cleo called again, but no answer came. The smell of rot disappeared and Cleo felt as if a dead weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She stood tall and shrugged. “The dark is just an absence of light,” Cleo said and shook the torch she gripped in her hand. “Stupid, froggin’ thing. Work.” She patted it against her palm. “Work.” Something touched her shoulder and Cleo jumped.

2012-09-18 at 10-05-20


The images I have used are from my collection of ‘sun photos’. To see more of my experimental photography, you can go to my website:  http://www.tracerlight.co.uk

 

For more information on my other books visit:  http://www.thesongofforgetfulness.com/ Image echoes cover for email              SilenceHeard_CVR_LRG

Clouds and a Suffolk sunset

 

 

Some photographs I took a couple of days ago in my garden. The colours are not enhanced. The sky went from a dark sulphur orange to this spurt of purple in a matter of minutes. Such amazing clouds!!

Truly inspiring.

 

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Presenting: The Confessional

Hi my name is Queen and I have a few confessions to make.

 

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First off before I even indulged in writing or sketching I was a fan of singing. This was the biggest indicator to the world around that I was relatively happy. I even sung in the choir during my middle school and junior high years. Now many years later I reserve my singing for the shower or when I’m doing my chores at home but I have a wonderful appreciation for people who can “sing with their chest”.

 

Excerpt from Inside of Me

I always feel
that inside of me,

there’s a song
waiting to come out.
Learning about different notes
makes me smile.
Memorizing little songs
makes me feel worthwhile.

 

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As far as relationships I’ve been in some doozies! I bet all of us have some stories to tell about the wacky things we do for love. Heck, I even had a blueprint drawn up! Yet even the best laid plans go awry like shown in Dreams of Fog(excerpt):

 

I envisioned myself

styling and profiling

with the finest of things!

 

Engaged by 26,

married by 28,

and having my tubes tied by 35!

 

Yes, everything was great!

 

But my dreams were not to be.

 

Reality clapped next to my ears,

reminding me of the shambles

that is my life.

 

surreal

 

I had to find a way to get back on track. One way of doing that was addressing my fear and taking steps to conquer it. Now I’m not advocating violence by any means but it makes me smile how Courage, Faith and Love took care of business in Loss of Fear (excerpt):

 

One night,

as the sandman held me,

Fear heard a sound—

a moving about,

and Fear, being the paranoid

Ninny She was

arose from Her slumber

to see what it was all about.

 

And from behind,

Fear was nabbed

and She tried to scream,

but I didn’t hear Her,

immersed in my own dreams.

 

Courage cut off Fear’s oxygen.

Faith tied Her up.

Love picked Her up and quietly carted Her away

so as not to cause too much fuss.

 

Once Fear mysteriously (or not) disappeared, I had to find my way to Happiness. I was sprinting after it tenaciously but just kept missing the mark. But sometimes you just have to let things come to you:

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Butterfly

I see a butterfly

I like to call Happiness

sitting upon

a yellow rose petal.

I crouch low in the grass,

anticipating capture.

When I am almost near the flower,

it decides to fly away.

 

I see a butterfly

I like to call Happiness

sitting upon

my window sill while I’m cleaning.

My movements become slow,

steadily deliberate.

I almost touch its’ feet

when it’s on its’ way again.

 

I see a butterfly

I like to call Happiness

sitting upon

the leaves of a tree,

but this time, I ignore it

and proceed to my writings,

but this time around,

it takes a seat on my knee.

 

Could this possibly mean

that Happiness is also

meant for me?

 

And as if it sensed my thought,

it again decided to flee.

 

But this time, I’m not worried.

It’ll come back,

eventually.

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For a limited time, get it NOW for $1 at AMAZON.COM !

 

On Smashwords (please enter code QK82Q upon checkout):

Reflections of Soul

For those who love paperbacks, there will be a $2.00 discount off the title via CreateSpace. Please enter code YA64DN9T upon checkout.

 Thanks to Queen of Spades for this wonderful insight into her life and thoughts.

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