Archive for the ‘Self-Publishing’ Category

Strange Things Doctors Say …

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

‘Ya have to go to the doctor. Seriously.’

I had a lump on the side of my head that was pushing my ear out west like a signpost, and yet here I was in the office working away with not a care in the world. One person after another told me that such a sudden anomaly deserved the attention of a doctor, so at last I relented. Anything for a bit of peace and quiet.

Source: google.es via Emme on Pinterest

My regular doctor was on holidays when I arrived at the medical centre on a hot June afternoon in 2006. The replacement doctor welcomed me into her surgery, and I explained my symptoms. She then proceeded to march me up to a wall-length mirror and, standing behind me, she said:

‘Do ya see that now?’ Ya have a big lump there at the side of your head.’

‘Yes, I know,’ I thought. ‘That’s why I’m here. Where did they get her from?’

Sitting me back down on a chair, the doctor’s next question did little to reassure me that I was in capable hands.

‘What do you think it is?’ she asked.

Wonderful. I’m paying 50 odd euro for the privilege of diagnosing myself. I could have done that back in the office. However, I decided to help her out.

‘I don’t know,’ I said, shrugging my shoulders. ‘Maybe something glandular.’

‘Yes,’ she exclaimed rather excitedly. ‘I think you’re right. It looks like something glandular.’

And with that, she wrote out a prescription (more money) for antibiotics and told me I’d be right as rain in a few days.

Turns out it wasn’t anything glandular, but an early symptom of mumps that, over the course of the next three days, left me bed-ridden with a high fever, chronic diarrhea and a nadge bag the size of a football.

A day or two after I returned to work, I got a call from the medical centre. My regular doctor was back and wanted to see me. My guess was that the replacement doctor had killed most of his patients in his absence, and he was now trying to save the last few who remained.

Fortunately, I was in somewhat better shape a few years later when a health practitioner visited my place of work to offer free health check-ups. After conducting a quick-check cholesterol test, she seemed very enthusiastic about my results.

‘Your cholesterol is perfect,’ she said. ‘God, I wish I had your cholesterol.’

Moving onto the urine sample I had brought into the examination with me, she held it aloft in the light and stared in awe at it.

‘That’s very clear,’ she said. ‘You must eat lots of fruit and vegetables.’

‘Not really,’ I stated truthfully. In fact, at that time at least, I seldom ate five a week, never mind five a day.

‘Ah ya do,’ she said, not believing me for a second and taking another look at the urine sample. For a moment, it looked as if she wasn’t short of guzzling it down like a thirsty gazelle.

Although the diagnosis was good on that particular day, it was even better back in 2006 when the doctor confirmed that I had likely been enduring mumps instead of the glandular problem diagnosed by his colleague.

Completing his examination, he confidently assured me that the future was very bright indeed.

‘You’re going to live forever,’ he said, face beaming.

‘Ah now,’ I thought to myself. ‘Bring back the other lunatic. At least, she’s a bit closer to the mark.’

Ronan Smith is the author of Munterconnaught’s best selling comedy memoir, Lord of the Rams. Described as “a real treat to read that you will devour” (The Irish Post), “a diverting and entertaining read” (Evening Herald) and “genuinely funny” (Books Ireland), the book can be purchased for €10 (including worldwide P&P) directly from the author via http://www.lordoftherams.com/buythebooksigned.htm. Read FREE extracts of the book at www.lordoftherams.com.

FREE Lord of the Rams Story – Part 2

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

It’s fitting—given that Saint Patrick’s Day falls this week—that Part 2 of this exclusive Lord of the Rams story takes place on a 5-day Saint Paddy’s Day holiday to Latvia in 2006.

After celebrating the public holiday in Riga, partaking in some hair-raising bobsleighing in Sigulda, and ordering dinner from an unusual menu in a Cesis restaurant, our intrepid adventurers set off to find a good pub in what is a very small and quiet town.

Note: Please read Part 1 of this story prior to reading Part 2 below (which continues directly from the end of Part 1).


…………………Draft excerpt from Lord of the Rams 2: A Tale of Four Continents…………………

‘Do you know any good bars around here?’ Rams asked the fresh-faced brunette waitress.

‘There is a bar about 100 metres from here,’ she replied. ‘It is called “Boomerangs”.’ She wrote some basic directions on a piece of paper and, as she handed it to Rams, he produced a crumpled parchment of his own.

‘And do you know where this nightclub is?’ he asked, pointing at his almost illegible scrawl.

‘Ah, Vidzemnieks,’ said the waitress excitedly. ‘I am going there later with my friends. It’s a very good place.’

Rams, delighted that his little bit of research on C?sis was beginning to pay off, decided to turn the Irish charm up a notch.

‘That’s fantastic. Sure we’ll have to have a drink and a dance later so. A bit of Riverdance.’

The waitress blushed, smiled and told the lads she would see them later. With Winston and Tom still waiting for their food, the four refreshed farmers decided to head to Boomerangs for a few drinks.

‘Sure we’ll see yas there within the hour,’ said Rams to the Tipperary pair before departing Cafe Popular. Following some good-humoured banter with the friendly blonde receptionist, the lads finally made their way up the town in search of Boomerangs.

‘That’s funny,’ said the Rams, looking at the waitress’s directions. ‘She pronounced the bar as “Boomerangs” but she spelled it as “Bumerangs”.’

‘So long as it’s not The George we’re going to,’ said Eugene, referring to Dublin’s infamous gay club.

‘I’d say we’re alright, Eugene,’ reassured the Rams. ‘She wouldn’t do that to us.’

Only half a dozen customers were enjoying a frosty March pint when the four Irish lads walked into Bumerangs like they owned the place. Four of the six existing customers were propping up the bar, all of them eyeing the strangers with suspicion.

Eugene ordered four beers from the barwoman as Rams jested once again with a still hungry Terry and Bowers about their sumptuous evening meal. Although Rams had his back turned to the four locals, he noticed they were beginning to raise their voices somewhat aggressively.

‘I hope these lads aren’t going to start anything,’ Rams whispered to Terry.

Suddenly the barwoman asked the lads where they were from, and she translated Bowers’s reply to the locals.

‘I’m just going to the jacks,’ said Rams to his friends. ‘We might want to drink up and blow this joint when I get back.’

Moments later Rams returned from the toilet just in time to see the ‘leader’ of the group purchasing a large bottle of vodka and presenting it to Eugene. By now Terry and Bowers were looking a bit nervous, perhaps wondering what motives lay behind their new friend’s most generous gesture. Eugene, for his part, tried in vain to give the vodka back to the Latvian man who was now sitting on the stool next to him.

‘You’re not going to drink that, are ya?’ Rams asked as Eugene grabbed a few shot glasses from the bar counter.

‘Sure what choice do I have? He won’t take “no” for an answer.’

So Eugene opened the bottle of vodka and poured generous shots for himself, Terry and Bowers. Rams, along with all four of the locals, declined the offer of a drink. Instead he supped on the remnants of his warm beer, waiting to see what would happen next.

It turned out that Eugene’s benefactor had a basic understanding of English, and his gift to the lads now presented him with the perfect opening to start a conversation with them—particularly Eugene.

‘Where are you from?’ he asked, as if the barwoman’s earlier translation had fallen on deaf ears.

‘Ireland,’ replied Eugene, smiling and somewhat bemused by the friendliness of the man.

‘And what is your sexual orientation?’

Terry nearly choked on his vodka, and Bowers looked like he was about to shit himself as he observed all four large Latvian men staring at Eugene in anticipation of a favourable reply.

Like most Munterconnaught men, Eugene needed but a fraction of a second to reply.

‘Women, women. I’m married,’ he stuttered before following up with, ‘Anything split down the front,’ and a nervous laugh.

One could probably have heard a mouse fart at that moment in Bumerangs—Eugene sitting sheepishly on his stool, four angry but horny Latvians salivating beside him, Terry and Bowers gulping down their vodkas, and Rams making sure he had his arse against a wall in case things turned nasty in a Deliverance sort of way.

‘What time did ya say the flight is going at, Rams?’ said Eugene, his shifting eyes indicating to his friend that a convincing tarradiddle was urgently required.

‘I think it’s leaving at three o’clock tonight. We’d want to be making tracks soon if we’re going to make that flight.’

‘Do you know how long it takes to get from here to Riga?’ Eugene asked his Latvian friend in an attempt to change the conversation and justify his imminent departure. ‘We are flying back to Ireland tonight, so we need to get a taxi to Riga.’

‘It’s about two hours from here,’ came the frosty reply.

Eugene necked the remainder of his vodka and turned to his friends.

‘Right, we’d better head for the airport.’

But the lads were already half-way out of the pub. Eugene once again attempted in vain to return the bottle of vodka to the Latvian, and then he too made haste for the exit.

‘You need to be truthful about your sexuality,’ called the Latvian after Eugene.

‘What sort of a place was that?’ asked Eugene as the lads walked briskly away from Bumerangs.

‘I don’t know but we won’t be making it the local,’ replied Rams.

—END—

Ronan Smith is the author of Munterconnaught’s best selling comedy memoir, Lord of the Rams. Described as “a real treat to read that you will devour” (The Irish Post), “a diverting and entertaining read” (Evening Herald) and “genuinely funny” (Books Ireland), the book can be purchased for €10 (including worldwide P&P) directly from the author via http://www.lordoftherams.com/buythebooksigned.htm. Read FREE extracts of the book at www.lordoftherams.com.

FREE Lord of the Rams Story – Part 1

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Happy New Year. Although I’m working away on my first fiction novel, Dirtbirds, I haven’t totally forgotten about Lord of the Rams 2: A Tale of Four Continents, the sequel to Munterconnaught’s biggest selling book of 2008. Whilst the book is on hold for the time being, I hope to share the odd (rough) extract here from time to time.

The story below takes place in Latvia in 2006—I was actually recounting it to a group of people over the weekend, and I thought it would be no harm to post the written version online. Like the Vegas story I posted last year, Part 1 of this tale involves ordering food in a restaurant. Part 2 will be published to this blog in March. Feel free to comment below or share this link with your friends.

…………………Draft excerpt from Lord of the Rams 2: A Tale of Four Continents…………………
A taxi from Sigulda took the lads to Cesis in an hour. Regarded by many Latvians as an enduring example of pre-war, small-town Latvia, Cesis was characterised by some seductive narrow streets, castle ruins and—on this occasion—ankle-deep snow. It was a far cry from the busy city of Riga, and Rams was delighted with the opportunity to visit the ‘real Latvia’.

After checking into Hotel Cesis—a charming, recently modernised inter-war hotel overlooking the main square—the lads decided to freshen up before meeting for dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. Rams and Eugene were the first to show their faces in Cafe Popular. Both men were ravenous and decided to order dinner and let the others play catch-up when they arrived. The menu was a little strange in that it contained a number of weirdly-named dishes with no accompanying text to describe what the ingredients might be. Fortunately, Rams managed to find a fillet steak amongst the unconventional list, and he and Eugene ordered one each.

Terry arrived at the table just as the waitress finished taking the lads’ orders.

‘Jaysis, I’m starving,’ he announced. Quickly flicking through the menu, he turned impatiently to the Rams.

‘What did you order?’ he asked.

Winking surreptitiously at Eugene, Rams replied, ‘the “Farmer’s Refreshment”.’

‘And what’s that, now?’ asked Terry.

‘It’s a sort of a mixed grill,’ interjected Eugene. ‘Everything fucked in on it.’

‘Perfect,’ said Terry, calling over the waitress and ordering the mysterious dish.

Ten minutes later Bowers walked into the restaurant only to find Rams and Eugene tucking into prime slabs of fillet.

‘That looks the job,’ he said, eyeing the steaks hungrily. ‘What is it?’

‘It’s a Farmer’s Refreshment,’ said Rams mischievously. ‘It’s a savage feed. Ya may order one.’

Bowers, like everyone else at the table, had never eaten a Farmer’s Refreshment before, and his suspicious nature directed him towards Terry for reassurance.

‘What are you going for?’ he asked.

‘The same as the boys,’ said Terry, an unwitting accomplice to Rams’s prank.

Bowers, still not convinced, decided to order the only fish item on the menu.

‘I’m sorry, we have no fish today,’ said the waitress.

‘Alright, I’ll have the Farmer’s Refreshment,’ said Bowers.

Moments later Terry’s dinner was served and, much to the delight of Rams and Eugene, it was nothing but an omelette with a small side salad.

‘A fine refreshing feed for a farmer,’ laughed Rams while polishing off the remainder of his slab of beef.

‘You’re a fuckin’ bollocks, Rams. And you too, Tighe,’ howled Terry, but he couldn’t help but crack a smile at the childish antics of the Munterconnaught pair. More laughter ensued when Bowers’s fine steak-free dinner arrived.

‘Don’t go for the Farmer’s Refreshment whatever you do,’ Bowers warned Winston and Tom when they showed up moments later and began examining the menu. As the two Tipperary men scanned the menu for something that didn’t equate to rabbit food, Rams ordered more drinks for the table. But he was already thinking about where the lads might go after dinner.

To be continued …

—END—

Want to read more? Perhaps you might enjoy my original comedy memoir set in Ireland during the 1980s and 1990s. Purchase Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (Now only €10 with free worldwide postage and packaging).

Has the Editing Process Hit a New Low?

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Critics of self-publishing often cite “quality editing”—or a lack thereof—as one of the main reasons why traditionally published books are superior products to their independent counterparts. True, many self-published books don’t pass the test when reviewed in terms of structure or basic grammar and punctuation. But I believe a significant percentage of books coming from large, conventional publishing houses are simply not up to scratch either.

No matter what way a book is published—be it self-published or traditionally published—there is simply no excuse for sloppy editing, especially basic typos and errors. Having said that, no matter how thoroughly a book is edited, it is seldom that a first-print edition doesn’t have at least a couple of medium-large errors amongst its pages (I too must raise a guilty hand. Lord of the Rams went through a rigorous review process by a number of experienced editors, but a few errors still made it into the final copy).

But when a book is so full of basic errors that it begins to prove distracting from the text, one really has to question the quality review process.

In truth, I haven’t read enough self-published books to comment on the standard of editing of same. But I read a considerable amount of traditionally published titles (in a wide range of genres) and my experiences suggest that quality control from some publishers is in need of considerable improvement—especially in books published in Ireland the UK. And let’s not forget that traditional publishing houses have finances and resources available to them that a self-published author does not—making such mistakes all the more unforgivable.

I recently read a UK-published memoir (which will remain nameless) that is by far the most poorly edited book I have ever happened upon. After noticing one deplorable error after the other, I eventually began writing down some of the mistakes I spotted.

This is just a handful of the offending items:

“Sylvesterr Stallone” Page 133

“Brian Denehy” [incorrect] then three lines later “Brian Dennehy” [correct] Page 134

“… let alone turn up turning up on the doorstep of a stranger …” Page 137

“And when I’d get therethey’d say …” Page 150

“… auditionedin front of …” Page 204

“… now standing iat the back of the hall.” Page 204

“… coming up two two months old …” Page 289

“… he met some of thestars …” Page 291

There were also an abundance of consistency issues with things like ellipses and quotation marks. Whilst these errors originally belonged to the author (and he must be apportioned a certain amount of the blame), ultimately it is up to the publisher to find and correct such errors. On this evidence, the author was severely let down by the publisher—I would expect a school child to spot some of the mistakes that are marked above. The publisher has since gone out of business, and perhaps this is the best news possible for authors and readers alike.

Purchase my comedy memoir Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (with free worldwide post and packaging).

A Comedy Classic

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

“All women are bastards.” Jimmy Collins—competent middle manager by day, suburban rockstar by night—has just been dumped. And he’s not taking it very well. Even a visit to his stylist can’t cheer him up. He decides to take control of the situation, convincing his friends to help him find the perfect girl—beautiful (but loyal), smart (but not too smart), confident (without being feminist), an expert bunmaker, who’s indifferent about shopping, enthusiastic about Star Trek and scornful of self-help books: the mythical babe who’s got it all—Superchick.

Happy New Year to all. In this month’s blog, I’m taking a look back at a classic book that began life as a self-published work—Superchick by Irish author Stephen J. Martin.

I first heard about Superchick while attending a self-publishing workshop in Dublin in early 2006. Given the subject matter of Lord of the Rams, the workshop host felt I would be interested in reading Stephen J. Martin’s debut novel. She wasn’t wrong.

As per the above product blurb, Superchick tells the story of Jimmy Collins and his search for the perfect woman. Originally self-published by Martin in 2002 while he was living in Australia, Superchick went on to sell thousands of copies via word-of-mouth reviews and recommendations. Martin draws on his experiences working in IT and singing in a Tokyo-based band to deliver a book that is packed with memorable characters, witty dialogue and laughs aplenty.

Those of you familiar with Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy will likely draw favourable comparisons with Martin’s work (coincidentally, Doyle originally self-published The Committments). In fact the Superchick book eventually found its way to a mainstream publisher (Mercier Press) and developed into a trilogy, with Rock and a Hard Place (2006) and Ride On (2007) bringing the saga to an end.

Although the follow-ups don’t match the magic of the original (but they certainly have their moments), here’s hoping Martin is working on something new within the humorous fiction genre. I’ve read a lot of so-called funny books over the years, and Superchick was perhaps the only one that lived up to—and exceeded—the publicity hype.

You can now purchase the first two books in the trilogy from http://www.mercierpress.ie for the ridiculously cheap price of just €3. So you know what you need to do!

A Great Way to Market and Sell a Book

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

After complaining about the lack of “comedy memoirs” on the market in last month’s blog, I came across an interesting website.

Mentally Incontinent (http://www.mentallyincontinent.com) is the brainchild of Joe Peacock who began writing stories about his life in 2002 and placing them on his site. The genius of Joe’s site is that he allowed (and still does) readers to vote for their favourite stories, and the ones with the most votes were placed in a self-published book of the same name in 2005.

His book eventually found its way into the hands of an editor at Penguin/Gotham and, as a result, Joe will release the follow-up book Mentally Incontinent: That Time I Burned Down a Hooters, That Time My Stalker Crashed on My Couch, and Nine Other Stories from My Weird Life in November.

Joe’s stories centre on all manner of misadventures (with some similarities to Lord of the Rams in terms of subject matter) that he has lived out over the years. In fact the stories remind me of Tucker Max’s infamous I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell book, but I think Joe’s stories will perhaps appeal to a broader audience since they have a much wider focus than Tucker’s funny but somewhat one-dimensional tales.

Hats off to Joe for a fantastic web-enabled idea. By facilitating online interaction from his readers, Joe has created a fan base for his books that sees his new offering sitting in Amazon’s Top 5 pre-sales humour chart. I will certainly be keeping a look out for this book in the near future (as well as picking up the original).

Joe’s first book can be purchased via a number of websites, including Amazon. And his infamous Wal-Mart revenge story (http://www.mentallyincontinent.com/article120.html) is just one of the funny stories from that book! Read more on his website http://www.mentallyincontinent.com.







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