Being back in Ireland I always feel as though I'm visiting my previous self. Of course, in some ways our past selves are always with us. I'm still a twelve year old with braces, a film student in love with screwball comedies, a newly married twenty-eight-year-old, and a thirty-seven-year-old who landed her first book deal.
–particularly Dublin - I always feel as though I'm visiting my previous self. It's an interesting feeling. Every version of ourselves is still with us, every day, in some way, of course. I'm still a twelve-year-old with braces, a film student in love with screwball comedies, a newly married person of twenty-eight, and the thirty-seven-year-old who landed her first book deal. 

But in Dublin it's different. I almost feel as if I could catch sight of my former self ambling past on Dame Street wearing Levis and Doc Martens, and with a lion's mane of wavy hair. As though the touch of my soles on Dublin city streets year after year has solidified various ghost versions of myself. It beams the visions back to me as I round the corner onto Grafton Street, stand on the cobblestones in the Trinity College grounds, or when the light catches my eyes at certain magic angles while waiting to flag down a bus.

When people talk about love at first sight usually they mean with a person, but I had that with Dublin. Even when it drove me crazy in the worst ways, I never stopped loving it too.

I first landed in Dublin in 1990. Then I came back and came back and came back and stayed for years. Left for Canada but came back to Dublin to visit. Came back, came back, came back.

Every time it knows me. It never forgets. We have some special thing going, Dublin and me. I've written about it on the blog before and I've written about it in the book closest to my heart. I hope someday you'll get to read it. In the meantime, here are some of the things I saw while in Ireland this August.


Moody sky on Dame Street, Dublin
Dun Laoghaire pier, Saturday evening, County Dublin
Dun Laoghaire pier, County Dublin
GPO, O'Connell Street, Dublin
Grafton Street, Dublin
Kilkenny Castle grounds, August 24
Me in the middle of  charming pedestrian Kieran Street, Kilkenny
Picturesque downtown Kilkenny
Lovely Kilkenny, by the river
Homemade soup from the tea room in Kilkenny castle
If you go to Kilkenny castle don't miss the tea room - the dessert counter is pure amazing.
Love that someone gave Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott a rose! Harry Street, Dublin
Muckross House, Killarney National park
In front of the Hobbit-themed pub, downtown Killarney, bundled up for the rain
Stunning Killarney National park in the rain and mist
Downtown Killarney
Pint of Killarney in Killarney
This was the scene in Henry Street, Dublin last week. So sad to see all of the Republic of Ireland's HMV stores closing. Closest one you can find is now in Belfast, the sole HMV left on the island.
Inch Beach, Kerry. Wild weather day. Could hardly turn to face the water because of the sand gusting into your mouth. Stunning beach. Saw it once back in 98 in the sun and was in awe. But this wasn't the right day for it. Having said that, was impressed with the kite surfers out there, flipping into the air and flying.
Torc waterfall, Killarney National park
Tipperary Bridge
Happy to get some of our dirty clothes out of our suitcases and onto the line at my mother-in-law's house
The place I seriously started writing - my in-law's roomy back garden shed where we lived for several months before leaving for Canada. The location also figures largely in my YA currently out on submission.
Stray cat living in my mother in law's backyard we were all feeding. It boldly tried to get into the house one day and after being chased out and went back to calmly basking in the Irish sun.
Cabinteely Park, County Dublin

I've been waiting a long time to finally, finally be able to package my sci-fi YA Yesterday and its sequel, Tomorrow, together but that's in the works right now. The book cover and interior are all ready to go and when I'm back from vacation at the end of the month I'll be putting together a Goodreads fall giveaway. If you've already read Yesterday and want to know what happens to Freya and Garren afterwards, you can of course simply order a copy of Tomorrow. But if you happen to want the whole story all in one shot, this is it! 516 pages and a whopping 170,000 words.


And if you have no idea what I'm even talking about, here are the blurb and book trailers to clue you in:

Yesterday: The future’s fast collapsing. In the United North America (U.N.A) of 2063 sixteen-year-old Freya’s losing her brother to a plague that threatens to bury a world already crippled by nightmarish climate change, terrorism, mass global migration and severe unemployment. But when Freya wakes up seventy-eight years earlier – the dystopian future entirely swept from her mind – her life is one of high school cliques and crushes, new wave music and television repeats. Until she meets a boy (Garren) she’s sure she knows yet has never met. Suddenly nothing about her life feels right. Soon Freya and Garren are on the run from people they believed they could trust, struggling to uncover the truth about their lives and fighting for their very survival.

Tomorrow: The sci-fi adventure that began with Yesterday continues with an eco-thriller where no one is safe. The future's reach is long.



A couple of years ago I wrote a blog entry about the science and technology behind Yesterday and Tomorrow—stuff that inspired  my vision of the United North America of 2063 (hint: nanomedicine and Kiva) you might find interesting if you're curious about the books too.

Last but not least I can't talk about these two books without mentioning how 80s infused they are. A sci-fi book about the future set in the 80s, uh-huh. If that sounds cool to you, and if you have BIG 80s love like I do and still get chills listening to Space Age Love Song, know all the words to Talk Talk's It's My Life and 99 Red Balloons (yeah, even Nena's original German version), this book might be your kind of thing. But don't take my word for it, here's a snippet from the Kirkus review of Yesterday:

"A vivid infusion of 1980s culture gives this near-future dystopia an offbeat, Philip K. Dick aura...The cultural homage is nostalgic fun, from Care Bears to MacGyver. But for delivering that uniquely ’80s flavor, nothing beats music. Fans of the Smiths, Depeche Mode, Scritti Politti—this one’s for you."


It looks like I need to do some dusting around here. Yep, it’s been a long time since I posted to this space. Mostly I’ve been saving up the words for my fiction writing. In recent months that means work on my young adult horror novel. But for the most part that’s not what I’m going to talk about here today. The subject I want to get into is the other thing that’s been eating up a good chunk of my time on a daily basis—the health problems that originated almost three years ago and became markedly more severe in April, 2014. If you’re interested—and particularly if you’re suffering from what medical professionals are telling you is plantar fasciitis but that won’t budge after years of severe pain—you can read some background on my feet/health problems here: The Pain of Standing Still.

Since the writing of that fall 2015 post my diagnosis is still the same—idiopathic polyneuropathy that’s causing numbness, pain, tingling and other weird sensations in my feet AS WELL AS something mysterious and as yet unidentified that the three neurologists I've seen swear isn’t caused by neuropathy but which has been creating a sensation of constant tightness and weakness in my legs, mainly below my knees. The results of these multiple issues are as follows: because I can’t feel my feet properly, I tend to stumble over them, particularly the right one. My feet hurt to a certain extent all the time but stiffen to an incredible degree if I’ve been off them for more than half an hour to forty minutes, and then stand. The odd tightness near the back of my legs which makes walking feel exceptionally weird and tiring also worsens once I’m off them and then stand again. Unfortunately, remaining on my feet for long periods isn’t a solution either because after a fairly short period walking or standing results in even worse pain.

All of this means I have become a Jack in the Box, constantly popping up!

Topical magnesium and daily Vitamin B Complex pills seem to have greatly reduced the painful foot and leg spasms that were waking me in the middle of the night. But as for the rest of my issues, unfortunately I don’t have solutions—I definitely don’t want to fill the hardcore prescriptions I’ve been written for Gabapentin and Lyrica which would only mask my symptoms, and judging by the list of side effects posted at the People's Pharmacy potentially create more problems than they cure.

So if I don’t have answers, why am I writing this post? Basically, SHOES. If you're having problems with foot pain, whether due to plantar fasciitis, neuropathy or another condition, it's enormously important that you find supportive footwear that helps take the sting, ache and electric zing out of walking. Some foot-pain sufferers swear by New Balance running shoes, others by Oofos recovery sandals, or Vionic Orthaheels, or many other brands.

What has worked best for me—the only reason I’ve been able to stay on my feet as much as I have, limited as this is, are Z-Coils. They reduce impact by fifty percent because of their unusual coil heel and as a result have helped me stay mobile where orthotics failed miserably (even though they were designed by a professional C-ped and revamped on four separate occasions). Z-Coils aren't the answer for everyone. No such single answer exists. They aren't cheap either, but they have definitely cut my pain and elongated the amount of time I can spend on my feet.

About a month ago, a poster on a Foot Pain message board I visit put Adidas Tubulars on my radar. I picked up a pair on sale and personally have found them very comfortable too. As you can see below, they also have a very unique heel which is quite good at absorbing impact.

I'm going for a back MRI in late September and have recently started acupuncture. I'm still fighting for my health, still trying to pin down exactly what's happening in my body, and in the meantime am still looking for helpful tools (like good shoes!) to help too. I hope if you're dealing with mysterious health problems that you keep fighting and searching for answers also. And, more than anything, I hope you feel better in the future than you do today!
 
Now, for the people with no health concerns, and no sore feet who have made it this far into the post, here are the first two paragraphs of my creepy horror novel.

I don’t do this anymore. I don’t cut left onto Bridge Road and follow it past Holy Trinity High School where the trees are shuddering together in the wind, a sign proclaiming “WELCOME BACK STAFF AND STUDENTS” squatting malevolently in front of them. I don’t swing a right into Newtown Creek, one of the more exclusive areas of Tealing, tapping my fingers impatiently against the wheel as I cruise by grass as green as a golf course but as stern and precise as a marine’s crewcut. My heart isn’t thumping erratically, like a kid making sure his feet don’t hang over the bed so the thing that lives underneath won’t grab them, while houses with porches only slightly smaller than the apartment I lived in four years ago flash by my windows.  It’s not happening. I told myself I was finished with this last time.

Recently I was thrilled to learn that School Library Journal had written an extremely positive review of my latest contemporary young adult book, Delicate. They call it a “fascinating work” and a “refreshing look at contemporary issues.” You can read the entire review at Barnes and Noble by following this link and then scrolling down to the editorial reviews section. For me, one of the best things about the SLJ review is that it recommends Delicate for fans of Stephen Chbosky, who wrote one of my all-time favourite YA books, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

So, the moment I read that I felt “infinite”, you know?

And with that, came a wave of fresh love for the young adult books I read when I was only beginning to write YA myself, years before I ever got a deal to publish I Know It’s Over (2006, and the book’s release date was in fall 2008).

Back in 2009 I blogged about how the TV show Party of Five inspired me to start writing YA, and that’s true, but the books that showed me what kind of young adult fiction I wanted to write were mostly realistic contemporary YAs that I devoured between 1999 and 2004. These types of books are still being released but in fewer numbers and often with less publishing support, as high concept fiction generally seems to rule the market. It’s a damn shame because the titles I’m about to name are the books my heart believes in most deeply. They’re novels that are emotionally complex and that fearlessly tell the truth about being a young person without glossing over problems or winding themselves around a splashy plotline and/or a series of high octane events.

If you haven’t read these books yet, and you love and admire realistic contemporary young adult fiction as much as I do, you might want to add them to your reading list. I have been remiss not to thank these amazing authors and their wonderful works earlier.

Here, complete with back cover blurb material, are some of the books that made me fall in love with contemporary YA and helped shape my own writing.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (1999)

Charlie is a freshman.

And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

Life is Funny by E .R. Frank (2000)

From the outside, they're simply a group of urban teenagers. But from the inside, they're some of the most complex people you'll ever meet. There's Eric, fiercely protective of his brother Mickey-but he has a secret that holds together his past and future. Sonia, struggling to live the life of a good Muslim girl in a foreign America. Gingerbread and Keisha, who fall in love despite themselves. Life Is Funny strips away the defenses of one group of teenagers living today, right now-and shows their unbearably real lives.

Damage by A. M. Jenkins (2001)

As the Pride of the Panthers, football star Austin Reid is a likable guy, good with the ladies. Lately though, he doesn't like his life -- or anything else -- so much. And the worst part is that he can't seem to figure out why.

Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn (2001)

Like father, like son.

Intelligent, popular, handsome, and wealthy, sixteen-year-old Nick Andreas is pretty much perfect — on the outside, at least. What no one knows — not even his best friend — is the terror that Nick faces every time he is alone with his father. Then he and Caitlin fall in love, and Nick thinks his problems are over. Caitlin is the one person who he can confide in. But when things start to spiral out of control, Nick must face the fact that he's gotten more from his father than green eyes and money.

Borrowed Light by Anna Fienberg (1999)

Sixteen-year-old Callisto May feels a deep connection to astronomy. She can name all the moons of Jupiter and even tell you the dimensions of the Great Red Spot. But she feels completely alone on planet Earth. And now that she’s pregnant, her loneliness is acute. She can’t turn to her mother, who’s always been too consumed with unspoken grief to care for her children; she can’t turn to her father, who buries himself in work and pretends that life at home is normal; and her surfer boyfriend wants freedom to catch the perfect wave more than he wants to hang around Callisto. Only Callisto’s little brother loves her unfailingly, but she can’t be there for him right now. She’s got to make a huge decision—and, for a change, that means thinking of herself first. Somehow, though, as her world orbits out of control, Callisto finds the courage to fight through the secrecy and silence that are suffocating her family, along with the strength to decide what’s best for her future

The Parallel Universe of Liars by Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson (2002)

Robin’s neighbor Frankie is like walking sex. He’s 23, hot, charming, and used to getting what he wants. When Janice, Robin’s stepmom, first meets Frankie, they lock eyes with an almost audible sizzle. Not long after, Robin discovers they’re having an affair. She is shocked, angry, curious, even jealous—but not really surprised. It’s just one more hurtful secret to be kept in this parallel universe of liars.

Surrounded by superficiality, infidelity, and lies, Robin, 15 and a self-described “chunk,” has a secret of her own—she can’t stay away from Frankie, either. But when a new guy ambles into her life, Robin must find a way to escape her own tangle of deception to capture something real.

Target by Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson (2001)

Why had the men chosen him? Savagely violated by two strangers, sixteen-year-old Grady West retreats into silence. Some hells just can't be shared. Searing and powerful, Target shows that people can go through unspeakable things and emerge whole-- and sometimes your friends can save you.

If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson (1998)

Jeremiah feels good inside his own skin. That is, when he's in his own Brooklyn neighborhood. But now he's going to be attending a fancy prep school in Manhattan, and black teenage boys don't exactly fit in there. So it's a surprise when he meets Ellie the first week of school. In one frozen moment their eyes lock and after that they know they fit together -- even though she's Jewish and he's black. Their worlds are so different, but to them that's not what matters. Too bad the rest of the world has to get in their way.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers (1999)

This New York Times bestselling novel and National Book Award nominee from acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers tells the story of Steve Harmon, a teenage boy in juvenile detention and on trial. Presented as a screenplay of Steve's own imagination, and peppered with journal entries, the book shows how one single decision can change our whole lives.

Fade In: Interior: Early Morning In Cell Block D, Manhattan Detention Center.

Steve (Voice-Over)

Sometimes I feel like I have walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I'll call it what the lady prosecutor called me ... Monster.

Slam! by Walter Dean Myers (1996)

Seventeen-year-old Greg "Slam" Harris can do it all on the basketball court. He's seen ballplayers come and go, and he knows he could be one of the lucky ones. Maybe he'll make it to the top. Or maybe he'll stumble along the way. Slam's grades aren't that hot. And when his teachers jam his troubles in his face, he blows up.

Slam never doubted himself on the court until he found himself going one-on-one with his own future, and he didn't have the ball.

Bringing up the Bones by Lara Zeises (2002)

Bridget Edelstein is taking a year off before she goes to college, to try to recover from the the recent death of Benji, her longtime best friend-turned-reluctant boyfriend. Rather than accept support from her friends or family, Bridget turns to Jasper, a wonderful guy willing to nurse her broken soul–when she lets him. As she comes to terms with life without Benji, and the truth about their relationship, Bridget learns that being able to love deeply and truly is essential, even if the one you love doesn’t feel the same. More importantly, she discovers that happiness pinned to another person is only an illusion–now it’s time to find happiness on her own.

Make Lemonade (Book #1) by Virginia Euwer Wolff (1993)

An award-winning novel about growing up and making choices.

Virginia Euwer Wolff's groundbreaking novel, written in free verse, tells the story of fourteen-year-old LaVaughn, who is determined to go to college--she just needs the money to get there.

When she answers a babysitting ad, LaVaughn meets Jolly, a seventeen-year-old single mother with two kids by different fathers. As she helps Jolly make lemonade out of the lemons her life has given her, LaVaughn learns some lessons outside the classroom.

True Believer (Make Lemonade #2) by Virginia Euwer Wolff (2001)

LaVaughn is fifteen now, and she's still fiercely determined to go to college. But that's the only thing she's sure about. Loyalty to her father bubbles up as her mother grows closer to a new man. The two girls she used to do everything with have chosen a path LaVaughn wants no part of. And then there's Jody. LaVaughn can't believe how gorgeous he is...or how confusing. He acts like he's in love with her, but is he?

After January by Nick Earls (1996)

Alex Delaney is waiting for the beginning of the rest of his life. Marking time till his tertiary offer, he's not expecting much, just the usual holiday in Caloundra. So he's not prepared for the girl with the nose-ring who cuts past him on a wave and draws him into a new way of looking at himself and the world.

48 Shades of Brown by Nick Earls (1999)

Australian teenager Dan Bancroft had a choice to make: go to Geneva with his parents for a year, or move into a house with his bass-playing aunt Jacq and her friend Naomi. He chose Jacq’s place, and his life will never be the same. This action-packed and laugh-out-loud-funny novel navigates Dan’s chaotic world of calculus, roommates, birds, and love.

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen (2000)

Ever since she started going out with Rogerson Biscoe, Caitlin seems to have fallen into a semiconscious dreamland where nothing is quite real. Rogerson is different from anyone Caitlin has ever known. He's magnetic. He's compelling. He's dangerous. Being with him makes Caitlin forget about everything else--her missing sister, her withdrawn mother, her lackluster life. But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?

Someone like You by Sarah Dessen (1998)

Halley has always followed in the wake of her best friend, Scarlett. But when Scarlett learns that her boyfriend has been killed in a motorcycle accident, and that she's carrying his baby, she was devastated. For the first time ever, Scarlett really needs Halley. Their friendship may bend under the weight, but it'll never break--because a true friendship is a promise you keep forever.

Every Time a Rainbow Dies by Rita Williams-Garcia (2002)

Ever since he found her battered and raped in the alley near his home, Thulani hasn't been able to think about anything but Ysa. This is the first time since his mother died that he's given a thought to anything but the rock doves he keeps on the roof of his house in Brooklyn. Now that he has seen Ysa, Thulani finally has a reason to come down from the roof. But it's not so easy for him -- especially when it seems that Ysa doesn't want him in her world at all.

Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchex (2001)

Jason Carrillo is a jock with a steady girlfriend, but he can't stop dreaming about sex...with other guys.

Kyle Meeks doesn't look gay, but he is. And he hopes he never has to tell anyone -- especially his parents.

Nelson Glassman is "out" to the entire world, but he can't tell the boy he loves that he wants to be more than just friends.

Three teenage boys, coming of age and out of the closet. In a revealing debut novel that percolates with passion and wit, Alex Sanchez follows these very different high-school seniors as their struggles with sexuality and intolerance draw them into a triangle of love, betrayal, and ultimately, friendship.

The U.S. giveaway for Delicate is now underway at Goodreads so if you'd like to enter, head on over. These books are waiting for good homes to go to! They are housebroken, independent-minded and inquisitive but prone to periods of angst.

The contest runs until June 3rd to coincide with the blog tour to support the U.S. release of Delicate. The book itself releases on May 14th, and is currently already available in Canada. More details to come...



Goodreads Book Giveaway

Delicate by C.K. Kelly Martin

Delicate

by C.K. Kelly Martin

Giveaway ends May 14, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway


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