Frank Parker's author site

17 Independent Irish Bookshops to visit

Want to know where to buy books in Ireland? Megan McCullum has compiled a list of the best.

Capital Nerd

IrelandFlagPicture2.jpgBOOK LOVERS WILL know how it feels to enter a brilliantly stocked, cosy bookshop and feel immediately at home.

These days, independent bookshops are rare. There’s not many of them left, so they should be treasured.

Here, in no particular order, are 17 of the best and most beautiful independent bookshops on the island of Ireland.

1) Charlie Byrne’s, Galway

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Probably the daddy of all Irish bookshops, Charlie Byrne’s has been supplying the people of Galway City with their reading material since 1989. Claiming to stock over 100,000 books, you’re bound to find something good in here.

2) The Book Centre, Waterford

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Formerly a cinema, this beautiful building in Waterford city is now home to a larger-than-life bookshop. Choose a tome and curl up with a hot drink in the store’s gorgeous coffee shop.

3) Vibes and Scribes, Cork

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Owned by Joan Lucey, Vibes and Scribes is the…

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Dan Alatorre’s WORD WEAVER Writing Contest for July 2017 – let the games begin!

Originally posted on Dan Alatorre – AUTHOR:
Announcing the July 2017 Word Weaver Writing Contest! Enter your amazing piece of writing! We have over $400 of valuable prize packages! YOU will have the month of July to enter an amazing piece of your own writing to our contest. Here’s what you do: Uh, enter a…

I Can Hear Music

Cuts in public sector spending impact people in so many different ways. With restricted budgets priorities have to be reviewed. That means balancing the costs and benefits of all manner of “nice to have” programmes. Apparently this particular head teacher does not fully appreciate the benefits of music to the extent that Stevie does. But I wonder what else might have been under consideration for ‘the chop’ had the music teacher not left?
Since living in Ireland I have learned that all of the performing arts are well supported – which, I guess, is why Ireland punches so far above its weight in all of them.

Stevie Turner, Indie Author.

Rather sad news I read recently is that weekly music lessons are to be cut for children aged 11 – 13 from an Essex school because of budget cuts.   The headmaster has reviewed music provision after a music teacher left, and has decided not to employ another one and to protect all the other subjects instead.

This is all very well, but what if one or two of the children are musically talented?  Not all children are academically minded.  I know, because I was one of the students who struggled through Physics, Maths and Chemistry but loved my English, Art, and Music lessons.  At primary school I learned to play the violin, and when I left that school and moved onto a Grammar school at age 11, my violin teacher used to arrive once a week at lunchtime to teach me.  Music lessons were not considered so important at that Grammar…

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The Long Hot Summer of 1947

My second Novel, Summer Day, was originally published in the spring of 2012. Earlier this year I re-issued it with a few changes and a revised cover, thanks to Sharon Brownlie (cover) and Katherine Hamilton Pfiel (editorial suggestions).

As it is set in July 1947 I’ve decided to make the Kindle version free for the first 5 days of July 2017. Here’s a link to a blog post about the book’s genesis: http://cassandra2012.blogspot.ie/2012/04/england-after-war.html

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Frank Parker

Yecheilyah asked some penetrating questions. My responses reveal more about me than I’ve given to any other interviewer. I’ll probably move this to the ‘about’ section of the site in a few days. Meanwhile, you might like to hop over to her site and discover some of the other authors she’s interviewed and read her delightful poems.

Pearls Before Swine

Welcome to Introduce Yourself, a new and exciting blog segment of The PBS Blog dedicated to introducing to you new and established authors and their books.

Today I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Frank Parker. Welcome to The PBS Blog! Let’s get started.

What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Frank Parker. I was born and grew up in Herefordshire, a small rural county next to the border between England and Wales. I lived for the first decade of my life in a small stone cottage beside a stream with a couple of waterfalls. We were surrounded by traditional hay meadows and grew all our own vegetables in a medium sized garden. My parents were from London originally. They were married shortly after the commencement of World War II. Dad was an airman. Two years after I was born he was killed in…

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Writing About Adoption

An Affair With my Mother by Caitriona Palmer (Memoir)

A Second Life by Dermot Bolger (Fiction)

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I wanted to read these books when the opportunity came, in order to see if my treatment of the subject in Honest Hearts and Transgression was authentic. Both books deal with adoption as experienced in Ireland in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. This was a period during which any young Irish woman who conceived out of wedlock was regarded as a pariah. Her child was taken from her and provided with a good, usually middle class, home. The mother would be ostracised by her family and told by the nuns who ran the mother and baby homes, and arranged the adoption, that if anyone were to discover her secret no man would look at her.

Bolger’s book is fiction and set in the mid 1990s. The male protagonist has a near death experience at the start of the book and this triggers a need to discover more about his birth mother. The book was first published in 1993 but underwent a complete re-write before being reissued, in the edition I read, in 2010.

Palmer is a successful journalist. She began the search for her mother whilst in her twenties in the late 1990s. She was eventually able to set up a meeting with her birth mother. The problem then was that the mother was married with a family. Neither the husband nor the children knew about her earlier indiscretion. She was so terrified of them finding out that meetings between mother and daughter were conducted clandestinely, hence the title. These secret meetings went on for 15 years during which the daughter continued to seek information about both sets of biological grand parents.

Angry

When Bolger’s fictional protagonist finally tracks down his birth mother it is only to discover that she is dead. The only member of the family who has remained in contact with her is an older sister who does agree to meet her nephew. She is able to provide details of the events surrounding his conception and the subsequent forcible transportation of the pregnant nineteen year old to the mother and baby home. He visits the home and later meets the older brother, now a priest. He is angry at the role this man played in the cruel treatment of his mother.

These visits provide Bolger with an opportunity to present both sides of the argument about such treatment: the culture in which the woman was deemed to have sinned and it was necessary to protect the child by giving it a second life in a “decent” home.

Both Bolger’s protagonist, and Palmer, struggle with feelings of rejection; feelings that, in Palmer’s case, are not relieved by her mother’s insistence on secrecy. Both the fictional and the real mother are consumed with a need to know that their secret child is faring well. A need that is satisfied in Palmer’s case though not in the case of Bolger’s fictional mother. I believe my own handling of that aspect of adoption was adequate.

What is notable in both these books, and in the culture they depict, is an absence of any serious condemnation of the behaviour of the men who were responsible for these young women becoming pregnant. In Britain in those years, a man who was responsible for making a young woman pregnant was expected to marry her and most did. Knowing this, few took the risk unless ready to face that consequence.

Similarities

Like Bolger’s fictional protagonist, Palmer visits the village in which she was conceived and the mother and baby home in which she was born. Palmer’s book was written six years after Bolger’s re-write and over two decades after his original. And yet, comparing Palmer’s real life experience with Bolger’s imagined one, one is struck by the similarities. Of course, Palmer’s is not the first real life account of these situations which were all to common in Ireland. The most well known is perhaps Philomena Lee’s 2009 account of her search for her son, aided by the British journalist Martin Sixsmith, played by Steve Coogan in the film Philomena. Palmer recounts a meeting with Philomena Lee.

There are other similarities: Bolger’s protagonist is a freelance photographer with a journalist friend who can help with his search, Palmer is a journalist with similar contacts. Palmer resides in Washington so, after the first few years, communication with her mother is mostly by e-mail. On the other hand, the duration of the search by Bolger’s protagonist is only a matter of months whilst Palmer’s spans several years.

Bolger enlivens his tale with a ghost story whilst in Palmer’s memoir we are treated to an account of her time in the former Yugoslavia working as PR consultant for an NGO.

Both books are thoroughly readable and provide valuable insights into a period of Irish history that has been the cause of much anguish for a generation of women.

Authors for Grenfell Tower

Lots of stuff for readers and writers here, and it’s all in a terrific cause!

jessicanorrie

I’ve never liked tower blocks. I had a friend who lived on the 13th floor of what used to be called a “hard to let” block in east London. She loved the view from her balcony, and kept flowerpots tethered in five unblowoffable ways to the railings, but even stepping on to it made me feel weak at the knees. Perhaps my knees were already weak when I arrived, because I always used to walk up the stairs. The lift was creaky and claustrophobic. Supposing it got stuck? Supposing someone scary got in it with you?

Fire 3 Cuttings from the “I”, “The Guardian” and the “Evening Standard”‘ June 17th & 19th 2017

Even posh tower blocks – skyscrapers, rather, penthouses, high rise living and the other more affluent synonyms – worry me. The only time I visited New York, I was less scared sleeping on the 34th floor than I’d anticipated…

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