Posts Tagged ‘travel’

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).

The Making of Lord of the Rams 2: Author Diary – Part 2

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Almost nine months into the writing of Lord of the Rams 2 and I have completed the first draft of 13 chapters. Sounds good, but there’s a lot of work to be done and real life has a nasty habit of standing in the way of progress.

Since the first diary update, I have been to Las Vegas and back. Those of you who read the exclusive draft extract from Lord of the Rams 2 in last month’s blog will know that ordering food in Vegas can be a pricy affair if you don’t keep your wits about you. Unfortunately, the food bill for dinner on the Friday night this time round put the bill from the extract firmly in the shade.  What’s that about “you live and learn”? Maybe next time!

Anyway, as a result of that trip and distractions either side of it, the writing took a back seat (i.e. was non-existent) for two full weeks. But things are beginning to get back on track and I am currently working on what I hope will be the opening chapters of the final book.

Today I’m going to write a little about the planning process of writing a book—particularly a memoir. Unlike my first effort, most of which I wrote in chronological order, I’m approaching Lord of the Rams 2 in a slightly different way.

The original Lord of the Rams could essentially be split into four parts—primary school, secondary school, college and post-college life. But the sequel is a different beast and will not be as easy to segment into large chunks as its predecessor. For me, I find it useful to split my work into segments—it helps with planning the story and defining the overall structure of the book. It also helps when editing the book and it allows me to assess chapters according to the overall sections in which they belong.

For example, with Lord of the Rams 2 I know that this book will take place almost entirely outside of Ireland. From there, I can identify which of my many trips from 2003 onwards (where the first book ended) might be of interest to the readers.

For most of these trips, I’ve initially listed a series of bullet points in a notepad detailing key points I want to cover in the book. I am also conscious that I will need to reintroduce characters from the first book (for those of you who have, heaven forbid, not read the original) and create some semblance of an overall story arc, but the bullet points are a great foundation for the overall book.

The notepad scribbles are added to all the time—following conversations with friends who were on the trips, “flashbulb” moments and reviews of the many photos charting the events of the book.

True, if I kept a diary over the years it would make things easier. But everybody has their own way of doing things—and this, unorthodox as it might sound, is mine. In truth, I have jotted down some bullet points in notepads while on some of my bigger trips in the past three years or so. These will no doubt help with getting the overall facts, figures and recollections down onto paper.

I mentioned “research” in the February diary update, and this doesn’t just involve verifying facts about tourist sites I visited. Airline tickets and hotel reservations are being retrieved and scrutinised to ensure that everything I write is as close to fact as possible.

All of this planning will eventually lead, I hope, to a cohesive book that can be split into several sections—definable by different adventures. Some sections will be much longer than others. But my overall goal is to have short accessible chapters—something I think I achieved with Lord of the Rams.

So, where exactly am I with Lord of the Rams 2?

Progess Report

Word Count: 22,923 (typed)

Chapters Complete (1st Draft): 11 (typed) + 2 (untyped)

Featured Locations (thus far):

  • Edinburgh (Scotland)
  • Oldcastle (Ireland)
  • Ljubljana and Postojna (Slovenia)
  • Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Austin, Nashville, Memphis, Chicago (United States)
  • Riga, Sigulda and Cesis (Latvia)

Purchase Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (with free worldwide postage and packaging)

Are you writing a book? Share some of your planning methods via the comments box below.

The Making of Lord of the Rams 2: Author Diary – Part 1

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

As mentioned last week on lordoftherams.com, a sequel to Lord of the Rams, provisionally titled Lord of the Rams 2: A Tale of Four Continents, is in the works. It’s a long way from completion (projected release date is 2013) but it’s definitely on the way.

Unlike its predecessor, the action in Lord of the Rams 2 will—for the most part—take place outside of Ireland in a diverse range of countries such as Russia, Mongolia, Japan, United States, China, Slovenia and Germany. Many of the old characters will be back—including Goosey, Dowd, Sean George Mara II and the irreproachable Tighe brothers—and they’ll be causing mayhem and destruction with yours truly right across the globe.

But if the book is at least three years away, why am I telling you about it now?

As the title of this month’s blog suggests, today marks the first part of what I hope will be a regular series (every two or three months) in which I will discuss the progress of the new book. I aim to provide an insight into what goes into writing a book—the research, the time commitments involved, the problems, etc.

I know a lot of people who have spoken about writing a book but never seem to get round to it. Well, these updates will follow my trials and tribulations, as I get stuck into the writing and editing process while trying to balance work and other commitments. It might be interesting; it might send you to sleep. But I’d welcome any comments along the way.

Just because I’m writing my second book, that doesn’t mean the process gets any easier. For one, there is a certain level of expectation (however low) surrounding a sequel to any work. Difficult second album syndrome can apply to authors too. For me, the biggest question in my mind at this early stage of the process is: can I write a follow-up that can at least equal, if not better, my first effort? Right now, I just don’t know. I think Lord of the Rams 2 has potential, but only time will tell if I can manage to pull it off!

Going back to the point I made about people who talk about writing a book but never find the time, I had that problem too. I started Lord of the Rams in January 2003, wrote less than a handful of pages and then didn’t touch the project again for a year—a failed new year resolution no doubt. Exactly 12 months later I returned to the writing with renewed vigour.

The most important rule to remember if you want to write a book—and any author will always tell you the same—is that you need to write something every week. Set a realistic target (in terms of word count) and stick religiously to it. I write by hand on A4 notepads, and my aim each week is to fill three notepad pages. This only amounts to about 800 words maximum (which explains why my first book took almost five years to complete). Sure, it’s a relatively small output but it adds up over the course of a year.

Even factoring in six weeks holidays per year (it’s important to take extended breaks from your writing so you can return to it with fresh eyes) and averaging 800 words per week, you will have written almost 37,000 words in your first year—a remarkable achievement and about half the length of a small novel (Lord of the Rams clocked in at over 72,000 words).

The main problem I had when writing Lord of the Rams is that I didn’t commit enough to reaching that 800 words target each week, and so it ended up taking me almost three years instead of two to complete the first draft of the book.

This time round, things have been going a lot better. I began work on Lord of the Rams 2 in mid-July 2009. Once again my biggest stumbling block was getting those first few words down on paper. However, once I got started, the old creative juices began flowing and I have reached my targets every week (after factoring holidays into the equation). The word count at the moment (which is no indication of quality but is an important physical benchmark nonetheless) is around the 19,000 mark—not bad for a little over six months’ work.

So, where exactly am I with Lord of the Rams 2?

Progess Report

Word Count: 17,020 (typed)

Chapters Complete (1st Draft): 9

Featured Locations (thus far):

  • Oldcastle (Ireland)
  • Ljubljana and Postojna (Slovenia)
  • Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Austin, Nashville, Memphis, Chicago (United States)
  • Riga, Sigulda and Cesis (Latvia)

One of the ways in which Lord of the Rams 2 will differ from its predecessor is that it will include references to some of the hotels, restaurants and tourist sites I’ve visited over the years. Don’t expect guidebook-type reviews (far from it) but I’m hoping that the descriptions of the locations will help bring the story to life and will allow readers to relate more to the book if, for example, they too have visited a location mentioned in the book.  This time round I have to do a lot more research in order to accurately portray the events in the book (last night, for example, I spent time trying to find out the name of the oldest restaurant in Ljubljana. It’s called Gostilna Sestica in case you were wondering). On the plus side, I have hundreds of photographs from my trips (which are the cornerstone of this new book) to help fill in the gaps, and that’s a luxury I didn’t have with the first book.

I’ll post another diary update in April or May. But first there’s the little matter of a trip to Vegas in March. All in the name of research, I’m sure you’ll understand.

Purchase Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (with free worldwide postage and packaging)


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